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Mr Stickyback - The Lloyd Family Operating in Dublin, Glasgow, Birmingham and Leicester

This firm was operated by at least two, possibly three or more, photographers, almost certainly related, surname LLOYD, who produced cheap work and postcards format portraits, trading, at least for a period, as "Mr Stickyback". However, at the time of writing traditional sources for births, marriages, deaths and census returns have failed to reveal the details of the individuals and the relationships within the family. One key photograph in the collection of Ron Cosens (reproduced below with his permission) links together studios run by this firm simultaneously in Dublin, Glasgow, Birmingham and Leicester. A brief observation in the press links one member of the firm with an early cinema operating in North Wales. We hope that further information will come to light which will allow us to fill in some of the many gaps in this article.

Mr Stickyback postcard

Postcard format portrait of Edith Buxton of Longden dated 1912. At the bottom of the image is the text "Mr Stickyback, Birmingham, Leicester, Dublin Glasgow". This text has been enlarged and slightly enhanced below the main photo. Reproduced with the kind permission of Ron Cosens, Note also the job number in the top right hand corner of the image. Longden is around 50 miles from Birmingham, which, coupled with the order in which the firms branches are listed, suggests this was taken at their Birmingham Studio.

The different names we have encountered for this family and the associated dates found so far are:
Mr H Lloyd (in 1909)
Mr Henry L Lloyd (1910-1919)
Mr E Henry Lloyd (1909-1913)
Mr H Lawrence Lloyd (1912-1941 )
Mr Lawrence Lloyd (1913)
Mr H.L.Lloyd (1910-1954)
Mr Harry L Lloyd (1920-?)
Some of these may be different expressions of the same name. Only in one instance has a record been found mentioning two of these names simultaneously. This was in Thom's Directory of 1913 when Lawrence Lloyd, photographer, was listed at 30 Grafton Street and E Henry Lloyd, photographer, at 34 Grafton Street.


30 Grafton Street Dublin was a multi storey building in a busy part of the city. Over the years the street was a popular location for photographic studios. In the 1901 census No 30 was a commercial property with just two rooms occupied as a dwelling by Alexander Hughes, a solicitor's managing clerk, his wife and their seven children. By 1911 the whole property was apparently used commercially and the census that year showed nobody living there. Various businesses operated from the premises, often on short leases. In 1906 the property owner, James Allingham Taylor, was facing bankruptcy and disclosure of his assets revealed that 30 Grafton Street had been leased to "The Stickyback Co" for a year for £300 (Dublin Evening Mail, Wednesday 31 January 1906 p2). Other advertisements and newspaper reports show that parts of the premises were used by palmists, fortune tellers, an employment agency for servants, a dressmaking and millinery school, and a Modern Languages Society.

The Stickyback Co was run by Spiridione Grossi, also known locally as "Stickyback" and "Mr Stickyback". Grossi was the photographer and entrepreneur who first coined the name for this inexpensive novelty portrait format. But in the Irish Independent, between Saturday 23 December 1905 (p8) and Saturday 13 January 1906 (p8) he announced in a series of surreal advertisements:

"Mr Stickyback is retiring from business at 30 Grafton Street, Rats! Rats!! Rats!!! (Ed - a mild expletive or a suggestion that the premises being vacated had a vermin problem?)
Irish Houses. Mr Stickyback's premises are the only Celtic Studios in Ireland (Ed - was this a swipe at rival John Arnall's Celtic Studio?)
Mr Stickyback is only a Welsh Joiner. (Ed. This seems to be akin to a cryptic crossword clue - "sticky" equals a "joiner" and "bach", a Welsh expression for a boy, sounds like "back")
Mr Stickyback's Aniline Process absolutely best in Dublin (Ed. Aniline is a chemical used in some dyes. Some of Grossi's newspaper advertisements called this his "Arnaline" process - is this another stab at rival Arnall?)
Mr Stickyback is opening a fried fish shop in Camden Street
100 dollars will be paid to any person who will be the medium of Mr Stickyback buying a shop in Lower Camden Street". (Ed - is this a veiled threat aimed at rival John Arnall whose studio was in Lower Camden Street?)

But Spiridione does not seem to have left the premises for some time. The Evening Herald (Dublin) on Saturday 26 January 1907 p1 reported a civil court case where compensation was awarded to Spiridione Grossi, known as "Stickyback", for damage to his shop window and contents by a runaway frightened horse; an incident which had happened in August 1906. Thom's Directory 1906, 1907 and l908 list "S Grossi photographer" at 30 Grafton Street, Dublin, residence 11 Mountjoy Square, Dublin.

We don't know whether Grossi sold his Grafton Street business or simply closed down when his lease expired. In July 1909 we first encounter the name of Lloyd at 30 Grafton Street, but not in connection with photography. The Sport (Dublin) on Saturday 24 July 1909 p5 reported the formation of a syndicate to set up a new "Irish Sporting Club" to promote the sport of boxing. The syndicate comprised four well known gentlemen. Its manager was Mr William A Hunter and its Secretary was Mr H Lloyd, of 30 Grafton Street. No further details were given of Mr H Lloyd's background or occupation.

Having started to operate a Stickyback Shop at 30 Grafton Street, Lloyd immediately advertised denouncing an inferior competitor. That competitor might have been Grossi, or one of Grossi's or Lloyd's former employees, or could have been a completely different firm with a bogus background. Westmeath Guardian and Longford News-Letter, Friday 19 November 1909 p2 first carried the advertisement which was repeated in a number of other local papers:

"Caution. Mr Stickyback of Grafton Street Dublin has no branches and is not in any way connected with persons trading as "Mr Stickyback, late Grafton Street". He is continually receiving complaints against such persons and issues this warning that clients may be on their guard".

The Leinster Reporter, Saturday 20 November 1909 P2 and on later dates advertised, "Xmas 1909, 3 beautifully finished full length panel photos in Xmas mounts for 1s 6d ready next day. Special selection of Xmas mounts for Stickybacks at 30 Grafton St Dublin".

Belfast News-Letter, Tuesday 22 November 1910 p5 referred to The Scottish Temperance Life Assurance Co Ltd v Henry L.Lloyd. This was a legal action to recover rent allegedly owed on premises at 36 Grafton Street Dublin, known as "Stickybacks", where a photographic business was carried on. Lloyd had a lease on the premises from the Scottish Temperance Life Assurance Co Ltd, but the lease came to an end and the local authority had a magistrate's authority to pull down the premises. The dispute was about the terms on which Lloyd held the premises between the end of the formal lease and the point where the premises were taken down.

Between 1909 and 1911 Thom's Directory of Dublin lists Lloyd, E.Henry, photographer at 30 Grafton St Dublin. In 1912 Thom's Directory of Dublin lists Lloyd, E.Henry, photographer at both 30 and 34 Grafton St

Operating from multiple addresses in Grafton Street opened another opportunity. Wicklow People, Saturday 20 July 1912 p6 carried an advertisement: "Shop hours Act. you would be disappointed on arrival in Dublin to find Mr Sticky Back closed. To prevent this one of his two studios (Nos 30 and 34 Grafton Street) will always be at your command. No 30 closes for half day every Friday, No 34 closes for half day every Saturday."

We get another glimpse of the Lloyd family's products in the Irish Independent - Saturday 30 March 1912 p7:

"You must (er) not forget this the Day, 31 March 1912, the time 11am to 9pm the place, the Studio of H Lawrence Lloyd "Mr Stickyback" 30 Grafton Street Dublin. Everything in photography from a "Stickyback" to a lifesize picture. The price, like the work, is right. Groups a speciality."

Then in the Wicklow People Sat 12 July 1913:

"Visitors to Dublin. H.Lawrence Lloyd "Mr Stickyback" The Studio, 30 Grafton Street. Everything photographic. Wedding groups a speciality. Send PO 3/- and any old or faded photograph, and one beautifully finished enlargement mounted, measuring 20 inches x 15 inches will be sent post paid in seven days. Groups extra".

In 1913 Thom's Directory listed Lawrence Lloyd photographer at 30 Grafton Street and E Henry Lloyd photographer at 34 Grafton Street. Neither appear in the list of photographers in the classified section of the directory at any point. Thereafter Thom's Directories from 1917 to 1941 list H.Lawrence Lloyd as an artist and photographer at 30 Grafton Street.

Henry L Lloyd, photographer, was a Freemason and was initiated into Ionic Lodge No 429 on 5/3/1918. There were two other photographers in the lodge when he joined (Norman Dewar initiated 30/6/17 and Charles N Cooke a joining member from Lodge 120) and it is possible that they might have introduced him to the Craft.


There is a local trade directory entry for H.L.Lloyd, photographer at 202 Sauchiehall Street Glasgow 1910-11 (Glasgow's Victorian Photographers In 1913, Henry L Lloyd is recorded in the Register of Voters for Glasgow, as a photographer at 77 Renfrew Street, Glasgow, and also at 202 Sauchiehall Street Glasgow, his home address is shown simply as "Dublin".


Coventry Evening Telegraph, Wednesday 1 November 1911 p1 announced: "Mr Stickyback, 98 New Street Birmingham, photos in Christmas Cards". According to "Professional Photographers in Birmingham 1842-1914" (by C.E.John Aston, Michael Hallett and Joseph McKenna published by the RPS), 98 New Street Birmingham was occupied by photographer Harry Lloyd.

Below is a large stickyback photograph, almost postcard sized at 4.8in x 2.4 in, of an unknown young man in straw hat with cane. In the right hand edge of the photograph is a sign board with the legend "Royal Studios 98 New Street B'Ham 318 218". This photograph is roughly hand cut from a roll of photographic paper, the reverse is blank - the numbers may suggest this dates from 1918


We know from the photo above that this firm had a presence in Leicester, as well as Dublin, Glasgow and Birmingham. However, no trace has yet been found of advertisements for a Leicester studio under the name of Lloyd or Mr Stickyback. If Lloyd had taken over an existing studio and continued trading in the same name, then there are two possibilities of firms offering cheap work. In the Leicester Evening Mail, Wednesday 29 November 1911 p7 is and advert for "Christmas Portraits - postcards 6 for 1/~ Midgets 12 for 6d. Other styles at moderate prices Leonhardt's Studio Horsefair Street" Another advertises "Xmas Cards with your own photo or on postcards from 3/-per doz at Heawoods Electric Studio, High Street, Leicester." However, both of these appeared to be well established firms. The true location of the Lloyd family stickyback shop in Leicester awaits discovery.


In The Bioscope Thur 29 Jan 1920 p.112: John Cotton, Lancs and Yorks Section observed:

" I was very interested to see Mr. Harry L. Lloyd in Manchester the other day, and was given, to understand that he was on a business visit for the purpose of booking films, etc., for his hall at Bethesda, North Wales. I was very much surprised to find our friend in the Trade, but congratulate him on his sound judgment in giving up sticky-backs for the movies. This gentleman was for many years associated with the Stickyback Studio in Grafton Street, Dublin, and was always well disposed towards our business, and being a born showman, I feel sure he will make a success of his hall at Bethesda."

The Hall in question, the Public Hall, Bethesda, North Wales, was used for a variety of purposes at this time, including the showing of early films. It would seem that H.L.Lloyd managed this function for the local community, and did so with some success. In the Kinematograph Weekly on Thursday 2nd September 1920 was a report:

"WELSH EXHIBITOR HONOURED. On his departure from the district, H. L. Lloyd, of the kinema section of the Bethesda Public Hall, has been presented with a silver cigarette case as a tribute of esteem and good wishes. The presentation was made by Dr. Pritchard, J.P., who, with Dr. Gryffydd, spoke highly of the generosity and ready help of Mr. Lloyd. In response, the recipient referred with pleasure to his sojourn in the district, and said he would take away happy recollections."

Later Bethesda Public Hall was refurbished and became a full time cinema. The hall is now an arts centre (Neuadd Ogwen on Bethesda High Street).

It is not known whether H.L.Lloyd's career reverted to photography, remained in the Cinema trade or took an entirely different direction. One possibility is that he was the same H.L.Lloyd who from 1952 to at least 1954 managed the Radio Centre Cinema in East Grinstead. (Kinematograph Weekly, Thursday 6 March 1952 and Thursday 30 September 1954 p32).


Mounted Stickyback from 30 Grafton Street  Dublin

This mounted stickyback of an unknown lady is from the studio at 30 Grafton Street c.1905. The name "Sticky Backs" is different to the "Mr Stickyback" name, but the various spellings of the name seem to have been freely interchanged, particularly by the press. This could be an example of the work of either Grossi or Lloyd. However, "Sticky Backs" fits with Grossi's advertising "They've all got Sticky Backs" while Lloyd seemed to favour "Mr Stickybacks". (Reproduced with the kind permission of Ron Cosens

stickyback from Mr Stickyback at the studio at 30 Grafton Street of Violet Maud McIllree Manly and her daughters, Aileen and Joan

A stickyback by Mr Stickyback at the studio at 30 Grafton Street of Violet Maud McIllree Manly and her daughters, Aileen and Joan. This is reproduced with the kind permission of Violet's Great Grandson, Laurence Manly. The youngest of the girls was born in 1900 and Laurence dates this as sometime before 1910. This could therefore be by either Grossi or Lloyd, but the title "Mr Stickyback" suggests the latter.

unmounted midget with a three quarter length portrait of an unknown lady by H.L.Lloyd, Mr Stickyback

This unmounted midget with a three quarter length portrait of an unknown lady measures 37 x 83 mm and has a gloss finish. Stamped on the reverse is "H.L.Lloyd, "Mr Stickyback", 30 Grafton Street, Dublin". c.1910

cartoon portrait by H.L.Lloyd, Mr Stickyback, 30 Grafton Street, Dublin

Real photograph comic postcard portrait in the form of a cartoon of a mounted jockey. On the reverse is "H.L.Lloyd, (Mr Stickyback) 30 Grafton St, Dublin". The owner has added his own text "Barbton's Pride, winner of Berkswell Stakes - owner up", and on reverse, "A very pleasant Christmas to you". Note; the in-shot ticket number 933 stuck on the front of the cartoon prop. Unfortunately neither the surname or location have led to identifying the jockey in question. This is either a print from two negatives or is a a "head in the hole" (or Tintamarresque or face in the hole). This printed reverse is to be found on many RPPCs

large stickyback photograph, almost postcard sized at 4.8in x 2.4 in, of an unknown young man in straw hat with cane. In the right hand edge of the photograph is a sign board with the legend

A large stickyback photograph, almost postcard sized at 4.8in x 2.4 in, of an unknown young man in straw hat with cane. In the right hand edge of the photograph is a sign board with the legend "Royal Studios 98 New Street B'Ham 318 218". This photograph is roughly hand cut from a roll of photographic paper, the reverse is blank - the numbers may suggest this dates from 1918

A portrait of an Irish nurse from this firm can be found on the Jacollette blog:

On Paul O'Farrell has posted a postcard portrait of a World War 1 British soldier taken by Dublin photographer H.L.Lloyd (Mr. Stickyback) 30 Grafton Street. An inscription on the reverse reads "July 19 1917, yours sincerely George A. Foord"

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This page was last modified: 12 April 2023, 09:56

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