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Size Portraits

and Description

Smaller Sizes of
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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



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Stamp Photographs

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Smaller Sized Portrait Photographs - setting the context

As the number of photographic studios in the UK grew through the last quarter of the 19th Century, competition started to force down prices and so some looked for new markets and for new products beyond the long established "carte de visite" and "cabinet photograph" formats. In the 1870s and 80s some of this competition came from studios and individuals producing Ferrotypes. The story of the Ferrotype can be followed on our site here. After 1904, many professional photographers produced prints in the new postcard format, which could be used for postal communication as well as more traditional purposes. Some photographers gained a competitive edge by introducing other"cheap work", developing smaller, less expensive portrait formats, saving on materials, and marketed these, sometimes as novelties, to those who otherwise may not have been able to afford a likeness. Some photographers shifted primarily to these smaller portrait formats, while others added them to their existing offerings. So, we find, from around the 1890s to perhaps the 1920s, a variety of different offerings and formats of tiny portraits which family and local historians might encounter. Specific names were given to some of these formats at the time, but there was a lot of variation and lack of precision in nomenclature. Taken together, these smaller sized portraits are a whole body of work which photo historians have not yet considered as a genre or given a collective name.

Rather sadly, the very knowledgeable photo historian, Roger Vaughan, wrote:

"In every collection there is a small amount of dross left in the bottom of the drawer - well here is mine! - I do not fully understand what they are, but they appear to be early 20th century, and from some sort of photo booth? They have numbers above their heads 302, 304. .... The small size of these (2 inches by 1 inch and a half) makes me wonder what they were for? Just a cheap format perhaps. [I am told that they were suitable for cutting up and putting in lockets]" He illustrated this page with just a few tiny portraits. ( and ends with the request. "if any of this means something to you, let me know".

Roger Vaughan's comments probably represent the views of today's collectors and photo historians. This site is an attempt to introduce a common language to describe some of the "cheap work" which family and local historians might encounter. Below are some of the names and descriptions from the period.

The shrinking carte de visite

The standard carte de visite, introduced in the 1850s, was a photograph pasted onto a slightly larger card mount. . The mount, which was approximately 2.5 x 4.15 inches, usually carried printed information about the photographer, often within an elaborate graphic design, on either the face or reverse or both. Costs could be reduced: by using cheaper mounts, perhaps without any customised printing, perhaps printed with a rubber stamp; by reducing the size of the photograph stuck to the mount; then by reducing the size of the mount itself as well as the size of the photograph. The name"carte de visite" could be used to describe all of these variations. The composite photograph below illustrates these trends - in the top left hand corner is a fairly standard cdv by Gates Brothers, Cambridge. The top row has four other identical sized mounts but with reducing sizes of photographs attached; all four mounts have no printing on the front or rear, but instead bear the photographer's details impressed into the card with a hand embossing machine (the photographers are, left to right, Geo Pendry Nottingham, Geo Pendry Nottingham, J.Kerby and Son Ipswich and Harwich and Frank Hull of New Barnet). All of these top row images would probably have been sold as "cartes de visite" and would be regarded as such by today's collectors. The next two rows show a gradual reduction in the size of both the photographic images and the mounts, the smallest of these is a photograph just 0.85 x 1.2 inches on a mount 2.4 x 2.85 inches (by G Wilson of Grange). Would the photographers concerned have sold any of these as cartes de visite, or under some other product name? Today's collectors would probably not call these smaller versions "cartes de visite". They are smaller sized portrait photographs, dressed up as something better and more traditional, by the simple expedient of sticking them onto a cheap card mount.

Collection of shrinking cartes de visite

The shrinking Cabinet Photograph

The cabinet photograph, or cabinet print, in use since the 1860s, was a big brother to the carte de visite, typically the mount measured ​approximately 4.25 by ​6.5 inches, the image was slightly smaller. No doubt a number of photographers cut the cost and price on cabinet type products by reducing first the size of the photographic image on the cabinet mount, then reduced the quality and finally the size of the mount itself. The image below, an example portrait of an unknown young woman, by The Novelty Studio, 184 Union Street, Plymouth (c.1913-15), is just under 2 inches in diameter on a mount measuring 3.25 x 5 ins. These would probably have been sold as cabinets.

Novelty Studio reduced cabinet card

Stamp Photographs or stamp portraits

There were two different types of stamp photographs. The earliest advertisement found for these is from 1863. Initially these were novelty photographs, produced roughly postage stamp sized, with a postage stamp like appearance, generally with a portrait within a postage stamp-like border and in some cases with perforated edges and or with gummed backs. An example pair of stamp photographs are shown below. These have, perhaps unusually, been stuck onto a blank carte de visite mount, probably to display them within an album. By the early 20th century a second version had emerged, with the term "Stamp photograph" being used to describe a tiny portrait whose similarity to a postage stamp was simply its small size and shape. There is much more on stamp photographs on our site here. A check of advertisements for photographic equipment from 1905-1919 shows a number of manufacturers offering stamp cameras with either multiple lenses or moveable backs, or both. These advertisements variably describe the size of stamp photographs as: 1 38 inches x 1 inch, 1 38 inches x 1 14 inches, 1 38 x 1 12 inches, 2 x 1 12 inches, 1 14 x 78 inches, nine on a 5 x 4 plate, or 9 or 12 on a quarter plate. From this we can deduce that the description of "stamp photograph" was applied to almost any tiny portrait roughly resembling a postage stamp.

Two stamp photographs

Midgets and Midget cartes de visite.

Advertisements for "midget photographs" can be found in UK newspapers from around 1883, "midget cartes de visite" from around 1889.

The title of "midget" appears to have been used to refer to many different sizes of smaller photographs. You will find additional references to Midgets in our page on relevant cameras.

The "midget carte de visite" would appear to have been a smaller, scaled-down version of the more popular carte de visite, with a photographic print pasted onto a larger card mount and usually carrying the photographer's details on the face and / or reverse.

The British midget carte de visite mount was 1516 x 2 14 inches or 3.3 x 5.7cm (according to Cassell's Cyclopedia of Photography, Ed B.Jones, 1911). A study of advertisements of photographic equipment between 1905 and 1910 shows a wide variation in sizes quoted for midget photos. These include: 1 78 x 1 12 inches, 2 x 1 12 inches, 2 x 1 inch, 2 14 x 1 inch , 2 34 x 1 12 inches, 2 18 x 1 38 inches and 12 or 9 on a quarter plate. From this we can deduce that the term "midget" was widely and indiscriminately applied to smaller sized photographs which were slightly larger that stamp photos. Of all the descriptive terms relating to smaller photographs, "Midget" appears to be the most widely used in photographic trade advertisements for employment wanted or job vacancies between 1900 and 1914.

Hawkes, 8 George Street, Plymouth, a studio then established a quarter of a century, enthusiastically advertises Midget cartes de visite on Page 1 of the Western Morning News, 23 May 1883, in the following terms:

The Carte Midget - Most popular in Paris
The Carte Midget - Takes well in London
The Carte Midget - Bound to go in the provinces
The Carte Midget - First introduction in the West
The Carte Midget - Most suitable for the present style of dress
The Carte Midget - Can be rendered at half the normal price
The Carte Midget - Noted in the extreme
The Carte Midget - You are bound to like them
The Carte Midget - Grand style for gentlemen’s half-lengths
The Carte Midget - Equally suitable for children
The Carte Midget - Vignettes are most charming
The Carte Midget - Come and see them
The Carte Midget - Most comical little pictures
The Carte Midget - Wonderfully taking little pictures
The Carte Midget - Just what has been wanted for a long time
The Carte Midget - Look at Hawkes’ window 8 George Street

Below is a selection of midget cartes de visite, often with mounts printed on both the face and reverse, and with the overall appearance of a scaled-down version of the traditional cdv.

A range of midget cartes de visite

Occasionally a photographer would include the name of the product in the text on the mount. The example below, measuring 33 x 51mm, by W.M.Harrison, has printed on the face of the mount "Harrison's Midget Photograph". (reproduced with the permission of Ron Cosens (

Midget photograph by WM Harrison. Ron Cosens

The Victoria Midget or the Victoria

This title for a photograph size appears very infrequently. The only mention found in photographic advertisements which gives a dimension for the Victoria Midget is 'four on a quarter plate', which would be: 2 18 x 1 58 inches. See also the reference to the Victoria size of Ferrotype below.

The Midget Pseudo Carte De Visite.

Another way that some photographers reduced cost was to produce something which visually resembled a carte de visite, but was in fact a simple photographic print. So, instead of having a card mount, printed specifically for the studio on the face and the reverse and producing a photographic print which was pasted onto the mount, the studios producing these pseudo cartes had a two part negative from which they printed the image and text. The example below is from D.B.Seaman, Isle of Man - the reverse of this is blank.


The American Midget

The first two examples below are labelled as "American Midgets". The first small photograph, 1.5in x 1.9in of a seated lady, has been inserted into a green embossed mount which bears the legend: "The American Midget, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Glasgow, Rhyl, Douglas IOM and Birkenhead." It is impossible to know the original size of the mount as it has been cropped, to approximately carte de visite size, presumably to fit into an album. The aperture in the mount measures 1.4in x 1.9in. A second, similarly cropped example, has also been added below, which has an oval aperture and silver print and decoration. As these have been cut up in a similar fashion, this may indicate that these were supplied in a strip of multiple mounts, perhaps four wide, for the sitter to cut into individuals. The photographic firm producing these two examples has not been identified. There is a possibility that the firm in question could have been The American Galleries, who were based at 7 Lime Street Liverpool. They were operating from around 1912-1918 and also had studios at Kinmel Camp and High Street, Rhyl, North Wales, and at 259 Argyle Street Glasgow. Another labelled example American Midget is shown next. This is a small portrait of an unknown young woman, her hair piled high on her head, tied at the back with a wide ribbon. The photograph is in a pale green card mount 2.7 x 3.75 inches with an oval aperture surrounded by an impressed scroll design. The image (about 2 x 1.5 inches) is held in place by a stuck-down brown paper backing sheet on which is stamped, with a rubber stamp,"The American Midget" and "J. Hamilton Christian", but no address. Christian was based in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire and this midget appears to date from around 1905-10. In an advertisement in the Peterborough Express 20 December 1905 p.3, J. Hamilton Christian offered Cabinets 10s, Cartes 5s, adding "and don't forget our famous American Midgets at 1s per dozen." Next below is a portrait of an unknown young woman, measuring just 1.35 in x 1.2 in, on flimsy photographic paper, stamped on the reverse "The American Midget, Lime Street, Liverpool". There is a dappled background and the print has faded somewhat. This may be a portrait which has become detached from its mount. The precise address of this photographer in Lime Street Liverpool is not shown, but this again suggests that the photographer was American Galleries, who were at 7 Lime Street. If the J Hamilton Christian example represents this as a specific format then the American Midget is slightly wider than the standard carte de visite (2.75 v 2.5 inches), which means that surviving examples are likely to have cropped mounts.

American Midget

American Midget portrait

American Midget by J Hamilton Christian

American Midget photograph

The Promenade Midget

Below is an example of a Promenade midget carte de visite by W.M.Harrison of Truro. The mount is black card, printed on the face only, with rounded corners and a plain reverse. From the dress of the subject this would appear to date from 1890s. The carte unusually caries the description "PROMENADE MIDGET" on the face of the mount. Its size is 3.2 x 1.55 inches. Cassell's Cyclopedia of Photography, Ed B.Jones, 1911, describes the Promenade Midget mount as 318 x 138 inches. Advertisements for photographic equipment 1905 - 1910 variously show the sizes of Promenades as: 2 34 x 1 12 inches, 2 18 x 1 38 inches and 2 18 x 3 14 inches.

Promenade Midget carte by W.M.Harrison of Truro

The Mignon(ne), or Carte Mignonne or Mignon Portrait

A French term meaning sweet or cute - appears to be the term used by some French photographers to describe midget cartes. Not surprisingly some UK photographers preferred this French term to the less pretentious "midget" photograph. The first example below measuring 33 x 60mm is from A.H.Fry, Brighton, the second measures 42 x 63mm and is from J.Turner, Bristol. The third has on the face "Mignon Portrait" and on the reverse "Souvenir". The photographer and subject are unknown. Interestingly the words "Portrait" and "Souvenir" are both spelled the same in English and French so this could be either a French mount, or one from the UK with a French flavour. This one measures 47 x 80mm. These three cartes are reproduced with the permission of Ron Cosens (

carte mignonne by AH Fry thanks to Ron Cousins

Carte Mignonne by Turner, Bristol, thanks to Ron Cousins



Painted miniature portraits were an art form, for those who could afford them, from the mid 18th century until after the introduction of Daguerreotypes and photography. Some painters of miniature portraits became photographers as photography became established. The word "miniature" seems to have been used as a general descriptive term applied to smaller photographs since the 1850s, for example "miniature photographs to fit in lockets". Another more recent example can be seen in the advertising of Alfred Julian Moore, who devised the Morrotype format shown below, but who frequently referred to "our popular miniatures" or even his "magic miniature studio". Today collectors and sellers often refer to "midget" cartes (see above) as "miniature" cartes. However this does not seem to have become the name for any specific sizes or types of photographs or mounts. However, a few photographers included the word "miniature" in the way they described and advertised the format of their products. Some examples follow.

The Royal Miniature

The image below is of a small portrait, about 2 in x 1.5 in, in an ornate embossed card mount 3 in x 2.25 in. The mount is labelled "The Royal Miniature" and on the reverse is shown the studio - "Sticky Backs, 48 Biggin Street Dover and Atlanta Pier Road Ilfracombe". Was "The Royal Miniature" a size and type of product produced by a number of photographers, or simply a grand name given by a Sticky Back photographer to a mount used for his portraits?

Royal Miniaturereverse of Royal Miniature

The Coronation Miniature

An up-beat, up-to-the minute, product name for 1902 or 1911. The example below is from Cottier Cubbin on the Isle of Man. This studio may possibly be the only one to use this term to describe a stamp sized photograph in a midget mount. (reproduced with the permission of Ron Cosens (

Coronation miniature by Cottier Cubbin, Isle of Man, probably 1911. With permission Ron Cosins

Chic Miniature

The Chic Photo Company of Margate incorporated their studio name and the word "Miniatures" to describe its products - the example below being a stamp sized photograph in a midget sized mount. Other studios may have used the word "miniature" in the same way.


Penny Portraits, Penny Photos

Below are two examples where the word "Penny" has been used to describe particular products. Presumably this was a way of advertising the low price of 12 images for a shilling. The first of these for Penny Photos is from H.H.Martin at South Norwood and is reproduced with the kind permission of photo historian Paul Godfrey. The second example dated 1897 is from Lombardi and Co of Brighton, which names the product as a "Penny Midget". This is reproduced with the permission of Ron Cosins ( The use of the word "Penny" may also have originated in the USA from the Ping Pong photos or Penny Portraits there. This is a superb article by about "Ping Pong Photos" or "Penny Portraits" in the USA . In the United States “Ping Pong” or “Penny Portraits” were names applied to those studios producing portraits in the format of small, very inexpensive, photos or postcards for the masses. (i.e. similar in many respects to UK Stickybacks) Such studios could be found at US seaside or other holiday resorts. The name “Ping Pong” was derived from the photographer clicking the back of the camera back and forth into predetermined positions to expose a small part of the plate in each shot. Neither phrase has been found in the British Newspaper Archive. Photo historian Orla Fitzpatrick in her brilliant “Jacolette” blog for Sept 2011 has a post highlighting a postcard portrait of a young lady by the “American Ping Pong Studios” at 33 Upper O’Connell St , Dublin. US Ping Pong or Penny portraits were printed in strips, but, as with photo booth portraits, each image in the strip was different, unlike strips of stickybacks, which were usually multiple prints of the same image.




To add further to the different ways that the word "Penny" appears in early 20th century photography, Jonathan Fallowfield of London sold a "Penny Picture Outfit" for £9.10.0. This had a single lens and took a 7 x 5 inch plate and had a repeating back and a range of different sized masks enabling 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 15, 18, 20,24 or 28 different photos to be taken on a single plate. The price included a tripod. (British Journal Almanac 1906 p 1322)

Penny Picture Outfit by Jonathan Fallowfield, London, 1906

Penny Picture Outfit by Jonathan Fallowfield, London, 1906

The Minette

According to photo historian Peter Stubbs ( ), Minette photos measured about 1.5 ins x 2.5 ins mounted on cards 1.625 ins x 3 ins (broadly similar size and proportions to the ubiquitous cigarette card). Photo historian Jeremy Rowe ( gives the size of a minette carte as 1.5 x 2.38 in or 2 x 3.13 in. A search for the word "Minette" in the British Newspaper Archive does not provide a hit on a single photographer's advertisement mentioning this product. The variation in possible sizing and lack of advertising suggest that this must be a rather unusual product. The four photographs below could be Minettes from their sizing, but may not have been either labelled or sold as such.
From left to right these are:

  1. unknown boy by Cambridge photographer Ralph Starr (cropped slightly at the bottom) measures 1.4 in x 2.65 in on a mount 1.5 in x 3 in,
  2. unknown man by D.B.Seaman and Co, Douglas IOM on a single piece of photographic paper measuring 1.6 x 2.75 in,
  3. unknown girl, seated, black border, unmounted and printed on photographic paper, photographer unknown, 1.5 x 3.5 in, and
  4. vignette of unknown girl, photographer unknown, unmounted, printed on photographic paper and dated 1932, 1.8 x 3.45 in.

Four Minettes

Below are four further examples, possibly Minettes, from one photographer, Morris and Co, 1 Denmark Street, Bristol. These are 1.75 x 3.25 inches and are printed on a glossy photo paper, unmounted, with the photographer's details impressed in the bottom border with a hand embossing machine. The well dressed subjects are unknown, the images are first class and have not deteriorated in any way over time. They date from around 1907-09.

Four portraits by Morris and Co, Bristol

The next portrait of a boy standing on a wooden seat measures 1.7 x 3.4 inches and is by Derbyshire's Studios who were at Wigan and Chorley. Gillian Jones in her Lancashire Photographers 1840-1940 has James Alfred Derbyshire at Wigan in 1913 and 1920, and at Chorley 1905 to 1913, and at Blackburn in 1909. The photograph is unmounted and has a blank reverse. It's size just about qualifies it as a minette

Minette sized portrait of a boy standing on a wooden seat, by J.A.Derbyshire c.1913

The Morrotype

The first image below of an unknown man in a straw boater measures 1.6 x 2.05 inches, and has been inaccurately cut on a slant from a strip. Across the bottom of the strip is written "Morrotype" and a number 855. In the bottom left corner are some other numbers or letters which are indecipherable, but may be a partial date, best guess 1907. The second photograph is a Morrotype apparently dated 12 June 1905. This image is reproduced with the kind permission of the owner, Penny Guest, and shows her Great Uncle, Sam Stephenson, b. 1881 who served in the Royal Marines Light Infantry and the Royal Navy Fleet Reserve. These Morrotypes are similar to the stickyback photograph, but these are slightly larger and may or may not have had an adhesive back. We are most grateful to Dave Evans for alerting us to Morrotype advertisements in newspapers from Ramsey on the Isle of Man. This has allowed us to identify Alfred Julian Moore as the photographer who devised this format as a deliberate rival to stickybacks being sold in Ramsey. He produced these between 1905 and 1910 from his "Morrotype Magic Miniature Studio" at 1s a dozen". There is a full entry for Alfred Julian Moore on our site here: . As Moore based his Morrotype on the Stickyback being sold at the time on the Isle of Man, it seems likely that IOM stickybacks were, by this time, incorporating within the image a signboard with information about the location, date and job number.

Morrotype1905 Morrotype of Sam Stephenson

The Panel

Reference to "panel prints" appears in occasional advertisements, but to date no advertisement has been found which lists dimensions. An example advertisement from the BJP 4 January1907  p.xx "New sizes in repeating backs for promenade midgets and panels also with black borders, enlarging lanterns, postcard printing machines. Billcliff’s Camera Works, Manchester". In another advertisement in the BJP 2 Feb 1906 p.xix is an advert for equipment for "Panel Midgets". The advertisement reads ""Extended Payments. TRESS Bijou back and printing frame for producing panel midgets with black borders and name and address in white. The Service Photographic Society, 292 High Holborn".

The American Gem and other Ferrotypes or Tintypes

The ferrotype or tintype was a positive image on a substrate made of a blackened thin sheet of iron. American Gem portraits were tiny ferrotypes presented behind a little aperture in a carte de visite sized mount, and held in place by a paper cover sheet glued onto the reverse. Often rather dark and murky in appearance today, there are sometimes rust (oxidation) marks showing through the gummed paper sealing the metal plate onto the back of the mount. A check with a magnet will also allow you to differentiate between a ferrotype and an ordinary photographic print. This format enjoyed a period of comparative popularity in the 1870s/80s, and survivals today are fairly plentiful. In the 1870s / 80s the American Gem extended the portrait market providing cheaper and more affordable products. The sizes of the ferrotype in these American Gems varies from that of a small postage stamp to the "Victoria", which was roughly double that size. Mounted and unmounted Ferrotype portraits and buttons in different sizes and formats were produced by many itinerant, travelling, street and seaside while-you-wait photographers, in some cases up until the 1950s.

We are delighted to have permission to host on this site a copy of Audrey Linkman's excellent article "Cheap Tin Trade: The Ferrotype Portrait In Victorian Britain which first appeared in Photographica World June 1994, published by The Photographic Collectors Club of Great Britain. We have added another page to the site with additional notes on post Victorian ferrotypes

Below is an example American Gem with a festive greeting mount. For comparison purposes two other oval mounted photographic prints are shown - the tintype is on the left, photographer unknown.

Gem type and two other oval mounted small portraits

Below are three more examples of American Gem Tintypes. The one on the left, photographer unknown, is Victoria sized, the one on the right, photographer unknown,is the more common size. The one in the centre is in a mount with simple embossed decoration. There is a printed label on the reverse (shown below) holding the tintype in position in the mount. The label shows this to be by The American Gem Studio, Commercial Road, Landport, Portsmouth, Proprietor William James Robinson. According to the label they were selling Gem portraits, nine for 7½ pence. This studio was also offering "Cameos" and cartes de visite. Below these is a tiny tintype of a boy, on a pale blue embossed mount - on the face is the name of the photographer, J.F.Lowrie, 10 Jamaica St, Glasgow. The tintype is held in position by a label listing Lowrie's other studios in Fleet St London, Birmingham, Liverpool and America. James Frederick Lowrie appeared in trade directories 1878-1885. We have more on Lowrie on our site here: Below this is an American Gem Tintype of an unknown lady by Geo Melville, who had studios in Manchester, Southport and Llandudno.

Three American Gem tintypes

Reverse of American Gem tintype

Gem Portrait by J.F.Lowrie

American Gem portrait by Geo Melville

Tintypes or ferrotypes were inexpensive to produce and were produced in many other sizes, sold mounted and unmounted. In some instances unmounted tintypes have survived because flimsy mounts have disintegrated or become detached as the gum holding the cover sheet on the reverse has failed. The example below, unmounted, measures 1 ⅝ in x 2 ½ in and shows two seated women in large hats, c.1900, photographer, location and subjects unknown. This example is hand-cut from a larger ferrotype plate.

Small tintype of two women

Postcard Mounts, e.g. Schofield's Patent Postcard Mount.

Shown below is a scan of a postcard sized mount, 5.5 x 3.5 inches, into which is inserted a tiny photographic portrait. The photograph is around 1.2 x 1.6 inches, the oval aperture in the mount is 1 x 1.3 inches. The portrait is held in place by a stuck-down paper backing sheet, printed in dark green, as a divided back postcard. Printed on the paper back is "Schofield & Co, Burnley. Patent No 11531". The face of the mount has an elaborate embossed floral design, which rather swamps the tiny photograph displayed. There appears to be some hand coloured detail applied to a printed and embossed design. This afforded a way of turning a tiny inexpensive photograph into a more impressive looking product. Several other examples of these mounts have been seen with different floral designs.

Below this is another version of a postcard mount for a stamp sized photo. In this case the photo appears on the address side of the PC and what would normally be the face of the postcard contains an elaborately ornamented box for a message. This is branded as "The Regent Postcard, patent applied for." This is from the collection of Ron Cosens reproduced with his kind permission. It is not known at this time which firm published Regent Postcards.

Schofield & Co was a tobacconist firm at 99 St James's Street, Burnley. In 1903 their premises were offered to let (Burnley Express - Wednesday 04 March 1903 p1). It would appear that the business was taken over by William Henry Smith, (b.1865 Burnley, d.1949), a tobacconist and the son of a cotton mill manager, who continued to trade from the premises in the name of Schofield & Co. By 1907 William Henry Smith, still a tobacconist, had a lucrative sideline. He was manufacturing and publishing picture postcards. He appeared before local magistrates for breach of the Factory Acts, allegedly employing young girls for excessive hours for "bronzing picture postcards". The hand-applied detail in the design below, now a dull brown, may well have been bronze when applied. Smith was acquitted on the charge after agreeing to pay costs. (Burnley Express - Saturday 11 January 1908 p8). The firm of Schofield and Co continued to operate in Burnley as tobacconists and wholesale tobacconists at least until 1949. William Henry Smith died on 16 May 1949 (Burnley Express - Saturday 21 May 1949 p10) It is not known over what period Smith produced these postcard mounts. His patent was in fact No GB190611531, application dated 17 May 1906; patent accepted 28 Feb 1907. In the Patent specification Smith stated: "This invention has reference to pictorial postcards, and consists in providing means for the ready attachment of a miniature photo, or other small picture, or object, or representation, to the postcard, between the picture and the back of the card, and in such manner that the same will be exposed to view through a sight opening, cut or punched, in the picture, whereby the same will present the appearance of being mounted in the picture or forming part of the same." Smith went on to give two examples of how this design might be used. First, by inserting a miniature photo of a visitor into a postcard with a view of the seaside resort or other watering hole visited, so that this will "convey to the mind of the recipient an association of the sender, or party depicted with the particular place , in a way which is likely to be impressive." His second example was "by the representation of the headless body of some grotesque figure or figures, animal, dwarf, or other image, over which may be fixed the head of the sender, or of a friend, in the shape of a photo". No examples have yet been found of these two different applications of the patent, but Schofield & Co also produced a number of other postcards, largely of either a topographical or a sentimental theme, which were not also photographic mounts. William Henry Smith was mentioned again in the local press, seeking redress from a non-paying customer, in 1915. (Burnley Express - Saturday 15 May 1915 p12). We have not yet seen one of these Schofield Postcard Mounts bearing the name of any photographer or studio. William Henry Smith was a successful businessman, publisher and inventor. His obituary states that, in addition to his wholesale tobacco business, he was Chairman of Directors of the Alhambra Cinema, Burnley, and of a cinema at Church. He was also owner of the Capitol Cinema, Nelson and with his son-in-law he was joint-owner of a laundry at Church Stretton, Shropshire. (Burnley Express - Wednesday 18 May 1949 p3) His estate was valued in 1949 at over £84,000, the equivalent in today's money of almost £3m.

Postcard mount by Schofield & Co Burnley.

Non pictorial Post Card mount

A product review in the Amateur Photographer periodical,  September 5 1905 p200 may contain the inspiration for Smith's patented idea. The Ensign slip in postcard was reviewed as follows. "These cards are really slip in mounts printed on the back with the regulation postcard matter, the front having a cut out opening to accommodate a small print. There is an assortment of highly artistic designs in each packet. The mounts being faced with mounting paper in soft neutral tints while the design is embossed in low relief in colours which harmonise most charmingly with the mounting pattern. After the print is inserted the card is gummed at the edge, the opening closed and there is no possibility of the print coming out or getting lost". Ensign postcards were available from Messrs Houghtons Ltd 88, 89 High Holbourn

Ensign Slip in postcards 1905

Other postcard publishers took forward this idea after Smith's patent expired. Below is an example from the 1920s, a Souvenir Postcard by Raphael Tuck in their "Oilette Series", photographer and sitter unknown.

Raphael Tuck postcard mount

Other mount sizes

There must have been other mount sizes and products with specific names. The first two cartes below for example are obviously on mounts by professional mount manufacturers and do not fit into any of the above descriptions. That on the left, on a cream mount, is by Hawke of Plymouth measures 4.25 x 2 inches. That on the right, photographer unknown, on green facing card, with maroon reverse and gilt chamfer edges has no information about the photographer and measures 3 x 2.25 inches. Both have blank reverse sides. The third photograph below is a diamond shaped print with rounded corners, pasted onto a cream card mount within a grey printed diamond. There is no other printing on the mount. The actual photograph is 1.0 x 0.85 inches and is perfectly shaped and so was probably cut out from a larger print with a specially shaped hole punch. The mount measures 2.8 x 1.6 inches and appears to be roughly cut by hand. The printed diamond within which the photograph is pasted appears to have been made with a rubber stamp, a perfect match to the size and shape of the photograph. Perhaps one of the photographic suppliers sold the cutter and rubber stamp as a matching pair. The mount may have been cut down to fit in an album, or the photographer may have finished it imperfectly. There are no details of the photographer, but in pencil on the reverse is written "Miss Harcourt".

Two cartes of unknown format

Diamond designed portrait of a Miss Harcourt

Bijou / Midget Postcards

Below are three examples of another, more economic,version of an existing photographic format. The first real photo postcard below is just 3 in x 4 in and depicts a teenage boy in shorts, the soft focus is probably due to subject movement. The reverse is a postcard back, with the title "Bayley's Bijou Post Card" and the address of Bayley's Studio "22 East Street, Newquay". This is from the early 1930s. Bayley's Studio also did "Walking Pictures" in Newquay. Below this is another even smaller example, 3.5 x 2.5 inches, depicting an unknown lady and an aspidistra. No photographer's details are shown, but on the reverse, on a divided postcard back is the description "Midget Post Card". The third example, photographer unknown, is a real photrograph "Court Postcard." The photograph on the face is a portrait of a seated lady in a rural setting. The dimensions are 4.2 x 3.2 inches and the postcard has rounded corners.

Bayley's Bijou Post Card, portrait of a boy.

Midget Postcard, unknown photographer

Court Postcard


Another way of differentiating some midget and stamp portrait photographs was to provide these with adhesive backs (gum which needed to be moistened to use). Such photos could be stuck to album pages, to stationery or to any surface. These were marketed as "Stickybacks" or Sticky-Backs or Sticky Backs.

We explain the origins of the Stickyback in detail on this site here

A number of Stickyback photographers incorporated the word "Stickyback" in their studio or business names. Stickyback photographers were spoken of in somewhat disparaging terms by many professional photographers. To illustrate the point, three different writers to the editor of the British Journal of Photography in 1911 referred to the sector of their trade producing this type of work as:

  • "the cheap jacks, the postcard, stickyback and 1s 11d enlargement branch of photography";
  • "the third rate, stickyback or postcard man";
  • “stickybacks and postcards .......class of business”.

( British Journal of photography 17 Feb 1911 p 130, British Journal of photography June 16 1911 p466, British Journal of Photography Sept 15 1911 p712.)

Another critical appraisal can be found in the Kinematograph Weekly, Thursday 27 January 1921 p134. In an article headed "Picture Making" Colin N Bennett talked about about the importance of good lighting in photography: " Is the change needed? We can easily satisfy ourselves on that point. Let us go for a stroll along some rather second-rate street until we come to a small photographers shop of the kind where sticky-backs or post cards adorn the frontage, and where what is euphemistically called a "medium -class quick trade" is done. One glance at the wares and we shall see again frozen on to paper the worst faults of the film studio. Black detail-less shadows, bleached out highlights all will be there."

Below are a number of examples of smaller portrait photographs which could variously be described as stamps, midgets or stickybacks.

Variety of sub carte de visite size portraits (1)


Variety of sub carte de visite size portraits (2)


Variety of sub carte de visite size portraits (3)


Variety of sub carte de visite size portraits (4)

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: 15 November 2022, 18:14

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