|For some time now Photograph collectors, especially those who collect Victorian Cards, have been using trade directories to date their acquisitions.
The technique is based upon the photographer's details printed on the back or embossed on the front of a portrait.
Unfortunately you may find your photograph marked with a chain name such as "USA Studios" or "Van Dyke" with a list of up to a dozen towns; this is unhelpful. We must know our photographer's name and in which town or city his studio was situated.
Fortunately most photographers traded under their own name. They took over existing businesses; they became partnerships or dissolved partnerships. They have added their own wives or sons to the business or otherwise changed title.
If we can pinpoint or bracket the date of any change in status of the business we can date a photograph.
|Far more frequently than we would expect photographers opened new premises or changed address.These changes can be conveniently found published in the
Trade Directories of the day. The best known being Kelly's Directory. These directories cover most Towns Cities and Counties and were usually published annually or bi-annually. They record businesses under an approprioate heading. Most Main Libraries and Record Offices hold a selection of their own area Directories. It is not unusual to find years missing either because they were never published or they just do not have that particular volume.
Our interest lies under the heading Photographers.
You will find Photographers who never moved or changed hands for decades.
Other times you may find an address or name only used during one possible year.
Photo historians have produced detailed listings of most towns,cities and counties.
Before you start trawling through directories check that the job has not already been done for you.