Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Trove Tuesday : Metcalfe & Glaister [Photographers]

This week I will be using the digitised newspapers on Trove in an attempt to help narrow the date range for another photograph in the carte de visite collection.

Metcalfe & Glaister - photographic artists

On the back of one of the photos is the name of Brisbane based photographers Metcalfe & Glaister. 

[small print]WATSON & CO:LITH:

Queen Street Brisbane studio

From the details provided on the photo, Metcalfe & Glaister operated a studio in Queen Street Brisbane. According to a public notice printed in The Brisbane Courier in 1875, Metcalfe & Glaister took over the business of J. Watson from 23 April, offering a range of new styles of photographic portraits.

Source: Classified Advertising. (1875, April 26). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 1. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1397960

According to The Queenslander, the pair entered the 1875 Queensland Exhibition held on 8 July, with Metcalfe & Glaister receiving a Certificate of Merit for photographic portraits.

Tragedy strikes the Metcalfe & Glaister partnership

On Wednesday 8 August 1877, Mr Glaister is poisoned when his supposedly drinks a photographic chemical, cyanide of potassium, instead of gin! This mistake unfortunately results in his death . Reports of Mr Glaister's death was reported in several newspapers the following Tuesday, including the interstate Sydney newspaper, the Evening News

Source: Sad Case of Accidental Poisoning. (1877, August 14). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 2. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108189526

No doubt the interstate reporting of this sad news is a testament to the notoriety of Metcalfe & Glaister as photographers. Within Queensland, reports of the incident where also published in the Rockhampton Bulletin, a transcription follows:
A distressing case of poisoning occurred in this city on Wednesday morning. Mr, Glaister, of the firm of Metcalfe and Glaister drank a quantity of cyanide of potassium (a chemical used in the photographing business), and died from the effects of the draught in about an hour. It is believed that he mistook the chemical for gin, as he had only a short time previously sent out for a glass of that spirit. He was from thirty to forty years of age, and has left a widow and child. 
Source: Brisbane, August 10. Brisbane. (1877, August 14). Rockhampton Bulletin (Qld. : 1871 - 1878), p. 2. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article51911343

Metcalfe moves on...

A year later, there are still reports of the Metcalfe & Glaister business operating under that name - The Brisbane Courier reported in July 1878 on the display of the relatively new format cabinet and coloured photographs.

Source: Telegraphic. (1878, July 27). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 5. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1373802

Within several months however, the photographic name of Metcalfe & Glaister was replaced by Metcalf [sic] & Bennett in a new studio location in the Smith's Buildings, Queen Street, Brisbane.

Source: Classified Advertising. (1878, October 28). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), p. 1. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1376091

Based on the above information, the photographers Metcalfe & Glaister operated from their Queen Street, Brisbane studio from April 1875 through to August 1877. That said, it would appear from the newspaper articles referenced that the business kept operating until October 1878 under the Metcalfe & Glaister name.

Putting a date on the carte de visite

Conservation Architect Peter Marquis-Kyle has two fine examples of back imprints of carte de visite photographs by Metcalfe & Glaister in his online collection. The first example is very similar to the back imprint displayed above, except there is no "late J. Watson", indicating that it is of a later date.

Metcalfe & Glaister back imprint. Photo reproduced courtesy Peter Marquis-Kyle
Source: http://www.marquis-kyle.com.au/cartes/000260.php

The second example shows rather elaborate text and scroll work covering the full back and angled at forty-five degrees, indicating a later period again than the first example.

Metcalfe & Glaister back imprint. Photo reproduced courtesy Peter Marquis-Kyle
Source: http://www.marquis-kyle.com.au/cartes/000259.php

Based on the information collected and the rear imprint examples of other Metcalfe & Glaister work cited, I would put a year date for this photo as 1875.

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