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Directory of Early Photographers in Norfolk, Studio Notes, Sawyer and Bird, Norwich

Sawyer & Bird – products and prices

Geoff Caulton has supplied a Sawyer & Bird handbill that lists products services and prices. Headed ‘Sawyer & Bird, Photographers and Photo-Dynamic Printers’, it gives their studio addresses as 87 Regent Street, London, 46 London Street, Norwich, and 182 King Street, Great Yarmouth. The Norwich address is not as recorded by trade directories, but the Yarmouth address seems to suggest a date in the mid-1870s.

Cartes de visite cost 3/6 (three shillings and sixpence) for taking the negative and supplying two proofs, and extra copies cost 10/- per dozen. Tinting was extra, at 2/6 per image, while colouring prices started at 5/-. Cabinet prints were 7/6 for negative and two proofs and 20/- (one pound) per dozen thereafter. Tinting and colouring were around twice as expensive as for cartes. Vignettes were offered for both formats at no extra cost. Miniatures for brooches or lockets were 3/6 (two proofs), with copies at 1/- each, tinting at 2/6, and colouring ranging from 5/- to 42/-.

A range of larger sizes was available:

Full size: 8x6 inches (12"x10" mounted); 1 proof – 7/6; extra copies 3/-; tinting7/6; colouring from 21/-.
Extra size: 9"x7" (14"x12" mounted); 1 proof – 10/6; extra copies 4/6; tinting 15/-; colouring from 42/-.
Crown: 11"x9"(20"x18" mounted); 1 proof – 15; extra copies 6/-; tinting 20/-; colouring from 63/-.
Royal: 14"x11" (23"x19" mounted); 1 proof – 21/-; extra copies 7/6; tinting 30/-; colouring from 84/-.
Imperial: 20"x16" (31"x26" mounted); 1 proof – 42/-; extra copies 15/-; tinting 40/-; colouring from 100/-.

These prices referred not only to portraits from life but also to copies of oil paintings, drawings and photographs not exceeding the size of the originals.

Enlargements, from cabinet size upward, could be made from ‘Portraits on Glass, daguerreotypes, Miniatures, or any small Drawing or Work of Art’. Cabinet print enlargements cost 8/6 for the first proof, 2/- per extra copy, 5/- for tinting and 10/6 or more for colouring. The equivalent prices for imperial prints were 45/-, 15/-, 40/- and 100/-. Potential customers were warned: ‘Enlargements, except when made from very perfect negatives, are rarely presentable as photographs, but they can be worked up either in Black and White or Colour into charming pictures, preserving all the likeness of the original.’

Life-size enlargements on canvas were also offered. ‘Sawyer & Bird make this kind of Portrait a speciality. Their enlargements are made by a process which secures absolute accuracy and freedom from distortion, and from any small picture up to life size – they are coloured in oils by an artist of great experience, and are valuable not only as being faithful reproductions of the original likeness, but also as well executed works of art,’ The prices were 7 guineas (L7.35) for head size, 10 guineas for three-quarter size, 15 guineas for ‘Kit Kat’, and 20 guineas for small half length.

They undertook to photograph ‘Views of Buildings, Landscapes, Halls, Churches, &c., Wedding Groups, Architectural Photographs for Law and Parliamentary purposes’, as well as ‘Machinery, Works of Art, Artists’ Drawings, &c’. In addition, they had for sale: ‘A Splendid Collection of Views from Rome, Switzerland, Italy, Holy Land, Egypt, Scotland, England. Photographs of the Finest Works from the Vatican, the Uffizj (sic) Gallery, the Louvre. Portraits of Celebrities, including the principal scientific men of the day.’

Business hours were from ten to four, and customers were reminded that a previous engagement was necessary for portraiture.

(Geoff Caulton is a photographic historian specialising in photographs from the first half of the 20th century. Go to Acknowledgments for a link to his website.)

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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: 04 September 2022, 11:30

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