Always look at the back of photographReaders of my blog may be familiar with some talks I have given in regards to identifying and preserving your family photographs and the importance of checking the back of a photograph. This is particularly true with the smaller carte de visite photos, were photographers used the back to imprint their details. A breakdown of some key general dates that may be useful when attempting to date a photograph using the back imprint are as follow:
- Before 1861 - blank or small pasted label
- 1860 to 1862 - single line
- 1862 to 1870 - text includes the word negatives or duplicates
- 1860 to 1868 - rubber stamp or simple typeset trade name in small print
- 1880 to 1885 - more ornate with all over designs
- 1885 onwards - highly elaborate full of publicity information
- 1875 to 1900 - backs may include a picture
John Hubert Newman - photographer and crayon painter
On the back of one of the carte de visite photos I recently scanned was the name of a Sydney based photographer J. Hubert Newman. Newman operated from several locations throughout his career and I thought it would be an interesting exercise to try and use the digistised newspapers on Trove in an attempt to help narrow the date range for this photograph.
PHOTOGRAPHER BY APPOINTMENT TO HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR
[top medal] AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY OF NEW SOUTH WALES 1870
[bottom left medal] PRACTICE WITH SCIENCE AWARDED TO J.H.NEWMAN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS 1872
[bottom right medal] PRACTICE WITH SCIENCE AWARDED TO J.H.NEWMAN FOR CRAYONS 1872
J. HUBERT NEWMAN
PHOTOGRAPHER AND CRAYON PAINTER
12 South Head Road
Based on the medals displayed on the back, we can safely say that the photograph dates from 1872 onwards...but what time period was Newman operating from his studio in 12 South Head Road? According to the biography listing on the Design and Art Australia Online website, Newman was active in Sydney from 1862 -1900. Let's see what Trove has to say...
South Head Road studios
In 1867 Newman advertised in The Sydney Morning Herald that he had terminated his employment with the firm Oswald Allen (late Bradley and Allen). The same advertisement mentions his gallery which was located at 53 South Head Road.
|Source: Advertising. (1867, February 23). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13137748|
It is not until the beginning of 1870 that Newman moves closer to Hyde Park at 12 South Head Road.
|Source: Advertising. (1870, February 14). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13200507|
|Source: Advertising. (1870, May 30). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13206017|
In March 1875, Newman is mentioned in The Sydney Morning Herald, in the matter of the insolvency of Peak Downs Consols Copper Mining Company (Limited) in the Supreme Court of New South Wales, John Hubert Newman is listed as a shareholder of the company, with the address of 12 South Head Road
|Source: Advertising. (1875, March 11). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13353157|
South Head Road renamed Oxford Street
From my research, it appears that all subsequent newspaper mentions of Newman's studio during 1875, list his address as Oxford Street. In July he is advertising for a "Respectable boy", then in August Newman is mentioned in relation to his entries into the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition of 1875.
|Source: Advertising. (1875, July 19). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13357333|
|Source: The Melbourne Exhibition. (1875, August 21). The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893), p. 6. Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18797801|
Newman is again mentioned when the results for the photography section of the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition are announced in October 1875. Achieving a first placed medal for his photographic portraiture - interestingly Newman's address is given as 64 Oxford Street.
|Source: JURY AWARDS AT THE EXHIBITION. (1875, October 5). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 5. Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7421396|
|Source: INTERCOLONIAL EXHIBITION. 1875. (1875, October 30). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 9. Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article7423608|
During the Easter holidays in 1881, Newman notifies readers of The Sydney Morning Herald that he would be closed over the break. The address given in this instance is 12 Oxford Street.
|Source: Advertising. (1881, April 15). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13480416|
Although to date I have not found a specific date of when the address changed, Garry Wotherspoon in his The road east article listed on the Dictionary of Sydney website, states that "its lower section was renamed Oxford Street in 1875". References to the renaming of South Head Road to Oxford Street can certainly be found in the archived newspapers on Trove - the following is just one example that appeared in July 1874:
|Source: Advertising. (1874, July 25). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved May 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13336477|
Back to dating our carte de visite photograph
Taking the documentary evidence into consideration, it appears that the photographer John Hubert Newman carried out his business at his studio located at 12 South Head Road, between the years 1870 and 1874. In regards to dating the photograph in question, and based on the additional of the medals listed on the back of the photograph, the years could be narrowed down to 1872-1874, or 1873 ±1 year.