stickyback photographs



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Size Portraits

and Description

Smaller Sizes of
Portrait -
in the UK

Smaller Sizes of
Portrait -
Rest of the World

Smaller Sizes of
Portrait -
Mystery Photos

Smaller Sizes of
Portrait -
by name

Spiridione Grossi
and origin of
the stickyback

Smaller Sizes of
Portrait -
and artefacts



Related later genres

Stamp Photographs

Photo Booths


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Photographers in the rest of the world producing smaller sizes of portraits

In the information below we have tried to identify a range of photographers who traded in smaller sizes of portrait photographs, from chance survivals. Many of these photographers would not have used newspapers to advertise, preferring instead to advertise extensively at their premises. Others will not have advertised at all. Survivals of smaller sized portrait photos are not that common due mainly to their small size and confusion with later photo booth images. This is a work in progress and much more awaits discovery - we would very much welcome any additional information on these photographers and their works which you may come across.

Relevant photographers have so far been found in: Tasmania, France, Germany and Belgium


We were delighted to hear from Priscilla Cox in Tasmania, who recently found the mounted Stickybacks photograph shown below abandoned in the loft of her house. The house dates back to the 1820s. The photo measures 1 1/8” x 1 1/8” and the mount, with brown stars, measures 2 1/2” x 3”. The mount has the name "Stickyback Photo Co" printed on the face. This precise company name has not been found on UK advertisements. Priscilla believes this was taken in Tasmania rather than the UK and has found a number of newspaper advertisements for a travelling stickyback photographer in Tasmania. The North West Post 24 Aug 1910 p2 states "Stickyback Photos - The Stickyback Company announces that their Devonport season is drawing to a close. the privilege of securing 16 photos for 1 shilling has been largely availed of and samples of their photos taken in Devonport are now on view at Messrs G and A Ellis, Ulverstone, which will be the next town visited." The North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times 30/8/1910 p2 reported "Stickyback photos have been all the rage for the last few weeks. The studio closes in a few days time".

Stickyback mounted on star design mount


The French photos below appear to be of a similar type to the Stickyback - the uncut multiples clearly depict the same image, rather than the changing poses in a strip of photobooth portraits. The images have a plain background and an information strip shows the photographer's details and a job number. Sizes are not dissimilar to Stickybacks photos. The Stickybacks name does not appear, but clearly the concept travelled to the Continent.

In 1911, in a letter to the editor on the subject of photographers’ assistants in France, Godfrey Wilson, who had worked for some years in that country wrote: “I am very strongly convinced that the French professional portraitists may be divided into two distinct classes, the tip top men and the third rate, stickyback or postcard man. Good middle class workers seem to me to be very scarce indeed throughout France
British Journal of photography June 16 1911 p466.

French Stickybacks?

Address: 43 Boulevard St Martin Paris, 26 Rue de Rivoli Paris, 5 Boulevard Ornano, 81 Faubourg du Temple, 11 Faubourg St Martin
Possible Practitioner: LA PHOTO MECANIQUE
Operating dates: 1914 - 1922?
References: The photographs below very closely mirror the UK Stickyback, although the name "Stickyback" is not used. The firm's name is probably best untranslated, although it could perhaps be translated to "The Photo Workshop" or similar. Note that the WW1 uniform postcard portrait has included in the image a number 253 just visible in the lower LH edge.

La Photo Mecanique, portrait of two young men in hats

group of three stickybacks from Bd St Martin

La Photo Mecanique, portrait of mother and child - dated on reverse 1922

La Photo Mecanique, cut pair of portraits of an unknown man

La Photo Mecanique, postcard portrait of young man

La Photo Mecanique, detail of addresses from postcard reverse

La Photo Mecanique, postcard portrait of a French soldier WW1

La Photo Mecanique, Negative No on edge of postcard print

Address: Rue Neuve 50
Possible Practitioner: not currently known
Operating dates: 1910-20?
References: See example below of two imagers in strip of man in military uniform Width 1.1 inches, height (of the pair) 2.9 inches

French Stickybacks from Rue Neuve 50

Address: 65 Rue Cathedrale
Possible Practitioner: not currently known
Operating dates:
References: See below single image of a gentleman with massive curled moustache and bowler hat. Measures 1.1 x 1.6 inches

French stickyback, Rue Cathedrale


Address: Kirchgasse St
Possible Practitioner: Foto Automatic Union
Operating dates: NK
References: See below photo of man in uniform - signboard contains the above name and address. Size 2.2 x 1.8 inches. On reverse in manuscript "Henri Armand Papa"

Portrait of man in uniform from Kirchgasse st


See our page on photographer and inventor Spiridione Grossi, who had a business in Brussells which may have been a stickyback studio - as yet details unknown. In one of his French patents, Spiridione jointly applied with Belgian, Alfred Lachmann, who may, or may not have been part of Spiridione's business in Belgium.

Top of page is a non-commercial web site for local and family historians, exploring smaller sized portrait photographs and those who worked in this trade.
This page was last modified: 06 December 2020, 19:54

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