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Directory of Early Photographers in Norfolk, Studio Notes, T.H.Ely in Kings Lynn


T.H.Ely Photography comes to King’s Lynn

T. H. Ely, Beard’s Norfolk licensee for the daguerreotype process, had been operating for almost two months in Norwich when he announced his intention of setting up a studio in the west of the county.

Lynn Advertiser, 6th February 1844 (page 1):

"Her Majesty’s Royal Letters Patent
Beard’s Photographic Portraits
The inhabitants of Lynn and its Vicinity are respectfully informed that an Establishment will be opened at the New Market Rooms, Market Place, Lynn, on the 13th February, and during the Mart, for the purpose of taking these truly astonishing Likenesses.
Price One & Two Guineas, either in Morocco Case or Frame.
Photographic Rooms, Royal Bazaar, Norwich, 1844."

Both time and location had been well chosen. The town’s annual Mart, traditionally opening on St Valentine’s Day, was a major event on the local calendar; and the main Market Place (there were, and are, two) was where the Mart took (and takes) place.

On the studio’s opening day a new advertisement appeared on the front page of the local press.

Lynn Advertiser, 13th February, 1844:

"Her Majesty’s Royal Letters Patent
Beard’s Photographic Portraits
Taken in a few minutes, in all weathers,
At the New Market Rooms, Market Place, Lynn
and Royal Bazaar, Norwich.
Price One & Two Guineas.
N.B. Reduction when Families are taken."

This became Ely’s standard advertisement, and it continued to appear on the paper’s front page up to (and including) March 9th. Reporting the new venture on inside pages, the paper professed itself duly impressed.

Lynn Advertiser, 25th February, 1844:

" Photographic portraits –

We have great pleasure in directing attention to the advertisement in our first page, which refers to the Photographic establishment now open in this town. We have several portraits now before us, and they are really most extraordinary likenesses. The features are admirably delineated, for nature in this, as in other similar operations, admits of no mistake. We would advise our friends to avail themselves of an early visit to this establishment."

Business seems to have been healthy. While the masses paid their pennies to stare at Wombwell’s Menagerie, the moneyed classes paid their guineas to stare at the camera’s lens. A week later, the paper returned to the subject.

Lynn Advertiser, 2nd March, 1844:

"Photography – We have great pleasure in drawing attention to the advertisement of the Photographic Establishment, which continues to be visited daily. Such is this happy art, that it is impossible to fail in taking a likeness; the features are admirably delineated; indeed, it is altogether one of the most extraordinary discoveries of modern times. A perfect likeness is certain."

At a guinea or more a time, however, the market for the photographs was limited. Daguerreotypes were cheaper than paintings, and they could be afforded by the aspiring classes for whom portraits had previously been an unattainable ambition. But they were well beyond the reach of the majority of the population. In Lynn, as elsewhere, the strategy of the pioneer photographer was to meet the demand and move on. There are signs that, half-way through March, Ely was having to consider how much longer his Lynn venture could be sustained. That, at any rate, seems to be the implication of the sentence that was now added to his standard advertisement.

Lynn Advertiser, 16th March, 1844:

"Her Majesty’s Royal Letters Patent
Beard’s Photographic Portraits
Taken in a few minutes, in all weathers,
At the New Market Rooms, Market Place, Lynn
and Royal Bazaar, Norwich
Price One & Two Guineas.
N.B. Reduction when Families are taken :– Persons desirous of their Portraits will oblige by an early call, as the stay is limited"

There was no advertisement for Ely’s studio on March 23rd.

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www.earlyphotostudios.uk is a non-commercial web site for local and family historians, listing photographers operating 1840-1916, in Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Rutland and Suffolk. The original site was researched and written in 2011 by the late Robert Pols, photo historian and author, and this re-constructed site is dedicated to his memory.

This page was last modified: 13 September 2022, 10:33

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