James Denham Wise & The Trafalgar Photographic Company

Diana Burns sent me images of three cartes de visite by The Trafalgar Photographic Company. They show her great-grandfather Daniel Talbot (b. 1848) and possibly his cousin, the manager of the company, James Denham Wise (b. 1842) with his wife, and their son James (b. 1869). She wondered, “if the low number of the negative shown on the back was a clue to the company having just opened, with relatives and friends coming in as customers?

Image © and courtesy of Diana BurnsImage © and courtesy of Diana Burns
Daniel Talbot, by The Trafalgar Photographic Company,
37 Chandos Street, Charing Cross, London, c. 1872-1873
I think Diana is quite right in her assumption that the low negative numbers on the photographs are an indication that they were taken at a very early stage in the studio’s life. It is not clear to me from my own research who the photographer was at the Trafalgar Photographic Company, but I suspect that James Denham Wise was the business manager, and may not have taken any of the photos himself. In the 1871 and 1881 censuses he described himself respectively as “Manager Fine Art Dept.” and “Agent & Commercial Traveller Hardware Provisions & Fancy Goods.”

I found somewhat conflicting information about the dates of operation of the Trafalgar Photographic Company. The photoLondon database shows the business succeeding the tenure of Frederick Pipere (1823-1873) at 37 Chandos Street, St Martin’s Lane, Westminster and operating from 1872 until 1873, subsequently being taken over by Frederick Pipere’s widow Sarah Ann Pipere (1823 – 1909), who was there from 1873 to 1885, and operated for some of that time as the Charing Cross School of Photography. Another entry in the same database states that the studio was at 37 Chandos St, Covent Garden W.C. from 1874 to 1875.

Image © and courtesy of Diana BurnsImage © and courtesy of Diana Burns
Possibly James Denham Wise & Lucy Wise, by The Trafalgar Photographic Company,
37 Chandos Street, Charing Cross, London, c. 1872-1873
Frederick Pipere died in the second quarter of 1873, and it seems likely that James Denham Wise took over the proprietorship of the premises at 37 Chandos Street, Westminster, near Covent Garden at around the time of Pipere’s death. However, as Pipere may have been unwell for a while prior to his actual decease, it would be dangerous to assume that the Trafalgar Photographic Company only commenced after his death.

The suggestion, however, is that the tenure of the Trafalgar Photographic Co. may have been of fairly brief duration.

Image © and courtesy of Diana BurnsImage © and courtesy of Diana Burns
Possibly James Wise junior, by The Trafalgar Photographic Company,
37 Chandos Street, Charing Cross, London, c. 1872-1873
Two of Diana’s three photos have negative numbers (8 and 30) which are amongst the lowest that I’ve seen. The third photo (James Wise junior) doesn’t have one at all, which doesn’t surprise me – many studios used them irregularly, or not at all – but I still think that it would have been taken at around the same time, possibly during the same sitting, as the portrait of his parents, James Denham & Lucy Wise (neg #8), which used the same chair. Bearing in mind my deductions on the period of operation of the studio, I would suggest that all three photos were taken either in 1872 or 1873. If James Denham Wise junior was born in late 1868 or early 1869 (from FreeBMD), then he would have been about four or five years old, which seems about right. It would be natural for them to use family and friends for subjects while they were still practicising, and building up a clientele. They may even have used such portraits to advertise the business.

The card mounts have square corners, while the design on the reverse is typical of the early to mid-1870s.

Now to the identity of the photographer. I noticed that living two doors down from James Denham Wise and his family in the 1871 Census, at 127 Lancaster Road, was a photographer of Danish origin, Lauretz Dietrichson. The photoLondon database shows him operating a studio at 63 Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, Paddington in 1871 and 1872. I wonder if he subsequently worked for the Trafalgar Photographic Co. for a couple of years? There’s no way for us to know, without further information, but it is a possibility.


~ by gluepot on Tuesday, September 23, 2008.

5 Responses to “James Denham Wise & The Trafalgar Photographic Company”

  1. >http://www.cartes.freeuk.com/index.htm – you may already know of this site – but it seems quite useful for dating CDV’s from their general shape and designs – e.g. that the earliest ones had square edges and very plain designs, if any.

  2. >Yes, thanks, Tim. I use Roger Vaughan’s site all the time – in fact you will find a link to it in the bar on the left. Tim – could you get hold of me by email pse (via my profile) as I have some important info about the photos on your blog. Regards, Brett

  3. >I am afraid I have not got to the bottom of this query, but Chandos Street is over a mile from Charing Cross, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. I am familiar with Chandos Street having worked just round the corner in New Cavendish Street for the early part of my career, it was my route to the tube at Oxford Circus. It is a street of the most elegant very large town houses (now generally office use) on the estate of the Dukes of Portland. It seemed inconceivable that a photographer would ever have been in business there. However there is a (currently named) Chandos Place just yards from Charing Cross, and Trafalgar Square. This must be the address. What I have not figured out is whether “Chandos Street Charing Cross” was re-named in later years to “Place”, or was it a printer’s error?Well I spoke too soon, I do have the answer, and a link to a rather nice photo of a pub, the Welsh Harp, at 47 Chandos Place, Charing Cross, but best of all, at the top of the building, the old address sign “47 Chandos Street” proves the change from Street to Place. See http://londonpublichouse.com/LondonPubs/StMartins/WelshHarp.shtmlNigel

  4. >I found the following comment at;http://homepage.ntlworld.com/hitch/gendocs/lon-str.html“In 1888 the General Post Office and London County Council conducted a renaming and renumbering scheme to eliminate duplicate road names throughout the LCC and to renumber houses consistently with the lowest number being closest to the local post office. This means that a house located in 1851 need not be the same house today, or even in subsequent censuses. “However that information does not help you date the photo if the name change did indeed take place in 1888 for this particular property.Nigel

  5. >Thank you, Nigel, for your research into the location of this studio, which is much appreciated. You do get around! Regards, Brett

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