Friday, 17 August 2007

Jerome - "Studios Everywhere"

Alan Radford sent me these three charming hand-coloured postcard format photographs a couple of years ago.


Alan Radford, in 1931 (left), 1933 (centre) and 1937 (right)
taken by Jerome Studio of Sheffield

The photos are of Alan himself in his youth, and are of a type that was common in the period between the wars. The photos are not from Derbyshire - Alan grew up in Sheffield - but Jerome Studios did have a branch in Derby, which operated from 1929 to 1949. The first of the images has a rather nice embossed frame, and is inscribed "Xmas Greetings" in the lower margin. It also has two numbers, one stamped (14240), the other written (2B 3268) - it is not clear which of these is a negative number - and a stamp, "E. Mallinson & Son". The latter is probably the name of the manager(s) of that branch. The first two postcards have the standard "Jerome crown & wreath divided-back", while the third, and most recent, merely has a simple diagonal "Jerome stamp."


These three portraits are nice examples of hand-coloured black-and-white photos. This process of studio artists hand-colouring monochrome photos in this manner was first employed by studios in the 1850s with daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. In the 1860s, 1870s and early 1880s the process was also used for cartes de visite, cabinet cards and photographic portraits printed on other materials such as ceramics, but by the late 1880s and 1890s they appear to have lost favour, and are rarely found. The postard format was introduced for portraits around the turn of the century, but really started to flourish in the early 1900s. After the First World War colouring of photos became popular once more, particularly for images of children.

Jerome's Studios appear to have flourished from after the First World War until at least the early 1970s. They advertised as having branch "studios everywhere," but unfortunately rarely mentioned on the reverse where the studio in question was located. However, one thing which they did commonly include on the reverse was a date stamp, so useful to family historians. Most of the portraits that I have seen have been postcards, some of which were sold enclosed in card or paper folders.

Peter Stubbs has an interesting article about Jerome Limited on his excellent EdinPhoto web site, with several examples of plain black-and-white and hand-coloured portraits from the 1920s and 1930s. Maurice Fisher also has some information about the history of Jerome Studios on his Photographic Memorabilia pages.

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