Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dating the early photographs of William Coles of Watford

CDV back circa 1889
William Coles (1853-1938)

In 1881 William Coles was an assistant chemist working for Theophilus John Piggot, photographer, at Leighton Buzzard. By the late 1880s he was trading as a photographer in Queens Road, Watford, and was still trading there in 1926. For a short time around 1890 he also had a studio on the Broadway, Chesham, and by 1899 had a studio in Marlowes, Hemel Hempstead, which continued for about 10 years. His carte de visite and cabinet cards usually have a negative number and the time line below suggests dates for various backs. Later backs say "by special appointment of Princess Eulalia of Spain - possibly after the Princess's visit to Watford in 1899. As a result if is possible to assign approximate dates on his Victorian photographs from the negative numbers and printing on the back.

Cabinet back circa 1900
Unknown Mother & Child
Unfortunately few of the wonderful portraits are identified - but perhaps, if your ancestors came from the Watford area you may be able to suggest a name.

He was also selling views of many local towns and villages by the early 1890s, and was producing a wide range of view post cards in the 1900s - some of which may have been from earlier negatives. He also produced a number of post cards of news events, which are normally dated.

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