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Mystery Photos

Smaller Sizes of
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Photographers in Wales producing smaller sizes of portraits

In the information below we have tried to identify those photographers who traded in smaller sizes of portrait photographs, mainly from information gleaned from local newspapers. But 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 and may only become known through surviving examples of their work. 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 welcome any additional information on these photographers and their works which you may come across.

Relevant photographers have so far been found in: Aberdare, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Bethesda, Carnarvon, Newport, Pentre, Pontypridd , Rhyl, Shotton, Swansea, Tonypandy


Aberdare, 1 Canon Street, See 7 High Street Birmingham, entry for Crown Studios

Address: 28, then 22 - 24, Pier Street, Aberystwyth , Cardiganshire Wales, also studio on Aberystwyth Pier.
Possible practitioner: GYDE, Edward Richard, GYDE, E.R. and A.S., GYDE and PICKFORD
Operating Dates: 1871- 1920
Information and References: Brett Payne, in his encyclopedic profiles of Derbyshire photographers, has a comprehensive entry for Edward Richard Gyde (1843-1919) here: This includes many examples of Gyde's cartes de visite. Gyde was a photographer in Gloucester in the 1871 census but he married in Wales in 1873 and re-located there, setting up a studio in Aberystwyth at 28 Pier Street, which was operating before 1875. In 1889 Edward Guide also ran a studio in Derby which he operated for a year or two. By 1891 he was at 24 Pier Street, Aberystwyth, where his firm operated until 1920. In 1898 he was joined in his business by Hubert Pickford, who also originated in Gloucester and who became a partner in the firm in 1916. Brett Payne quotes from Elizabeth A. Darlington's article, "High Street Photographers in Aberystwyth 1857 - c1900," published in the National Library of Wales Journal (1988, Winter. Volume XXV/4).(available online here: where she gives an account of Gyde's career: In her research, Elizabeth Darlington interviewed Hubert Pickford's son and learned that in addition to the studio at Pier Road, where Edward Gyde was a stationer as well as a photographer, he also operated from a kiosk and a small studio on the pier at Aberystwyth. Edward Gyde produced topographical prints as well as portraits and photographs of groups. In the 1880s he was taking souvenir photographs of groups on charabanc trips to local beauty spots. As an example of some of his advertising, The Cambrian News - Friday 30 March 1888 p4 carried the following "E.R GYDE, PHOTOGRAPHER, PIER STREET, For High Class Carte and Cabinet Photographs. For Artistic Production of Portraits on Opals. For Enlarged Photographs, Plain or Coloured. For Photographic productions of every description". By 1890 Gyde was advertising midget cartes in the local press. Cambrian News, Friday 01 August 1890: "E.R.Gyde photographer. Great success of the new midget photographs. New art goods for painting. Cheltenham House, Pier Street". In 1912 Edward was in partnership with another family member trading as ER and AS Gyde (Cambrian News, Friday 12 January 1912 p4)

The following two illustrations are reproduced with the kind permission of Ron Cosens ( The first is a 50 x 81mm print, on card, depicting a very smartly dressed couple perched on a rock (probably a studio prop?) and posed holding ornamental parasols. The face of the card has beneath the image the text "Gyde Aberystwyth" printed as part of the photographic image from a two part negative. This is cheaper work, probably produced quickly for visitors and designed to have the appearance of a midget carte de visite, but is a photographic print on sensitised card, of a similar weight to a postcard and is not a pasted down image on a printed mount. The second image is a little later, from after 1916, and in fact has been dated 13 January 1918 in manuscript on the reverse. The photograph is 54 x 87 mm and is literally half a postcard size. The print on the face shows a young man in WW1 army uniform flanked by two coated and hatted ladies (possibly sisters). The reverse shows that the image has been printed onto photographic card pre-printed on the reverse as a postcard. Also stamped on the reverse is a circular backstamp "Gyde and Pickford Aberystwyth." Given the date of the print, this may simply be an example of a photographer using up existing stocks in whatever way is possible during wartime shortages. By this time the firm was producing prints on postcards, and printing then two-up on a postcard would have halved the cost and made the image a bit more affordable.

Couple with parasols by Gyde, Aberystwyth with kind permission of Ron Cosens

Half postcard sized print by Gyde and Pickford, with kind permission of Ron Cosens

Address: 28 Pier Street, Aberystwyth 1881-1900; 26 Pier Street Aberystwyth 1891-1925
Possible practitioner: Henry Hicks DAVIES (1862-1943)
Dates operating: 1881 - c. 1925
Information and References: Henry Hicks Davies was the son of baker and confectioner William Edward Davies, whose premises were at 28 Pier Street, Aberystwyth. In the 1881 census return, Henry, then aged 19, was listed as a photographer at his parents address. In 1889 and 1890 Henry was advertising in the local press for a male apprentice. In the 1891 census, Henry and his family were still at 28 Pier Street, but by 1901 their address was 26 Pier Street (almost next door to photographer Edward Gyde then at No 22). By 1911 the firm was still at No 26 and it was very much a family business: Henry was assisted by his wife Laura Anne, son Henry Evered Davies and daughter Elsie Laura Davies. Pier Street was and is a busy shopping area and interestingly the premises next door at 24 Pier Street are occupied by a photographic firm today.
Elizabeth Darlington, "High Street Photographers in Aberystwyth 1857 - c1900" ,
Competition was fierce between a number of photographers in Aberystwyth and below are two examples of cheap work by this firm, believed to be aimed at visitors wanting an inexpensive memento of their visit. These images are reproduced with the kind permission of Ron Cosens ( These are small pseudo cartes - taking the form of photographic prints on light card stock, part of the images being the photographer's details. The reverse of each is blank. They are different sizes, the first showing a young man is 37 x 63mm is midget sized while the second of a woman in a traditional costume posed in a studio beach scene, is midway between a midget and a normal carte de visite at 51 x 84mm
pseudo midget carte by HH Davies Aberystwyth, with permission of Ron Cosens

pseudo midget carte by HH Davies Aberystwyth, with permission of Ron Cosens

Address: 28 Pier Street, Aberystwyth
Possible practitioner: KNIPE and CULLIFORD
Operating dates: 1905-1913
References: See below a small print of an unknown family group of three, measuring 1.75 x 1.3 inches, stuck onto a cream mount 3.2 x 2.3 inches with text in red "Knipe & Culliford 28 Pier Street, Aberystwith". In the Bennetts Business Directory 1900 for Aberystwyth, the Cambrian Photographic Co was at 28 Pier Street with H. H. Knipe, manager. Knipe and Culliford are mentioned in a report of a wedding in the Cambrian News on Friday 5 May 1905, page 8. South Wales and Monmouth Directory 1907 lists photographers Knipe and Pullingford at 28 Pier St. Kelly's South Wales Directory: KNAPE & CULLIFORD, 28 Pier Rd, Aberystwyth 1906, CULLIFORD Frank at 47 North Parade, Aberystwyth 1914, 1920, 1923, 1926.
Victorian professional photographers in Wales 1850-1925,

Family group midget carte by Knipe and Culliford, Aberystwyth


Address: Bangor - address not currently known
Possible practitioner: Believed to be HAIG, Charles, trading as "The Original Sticky Backs"
Operating dates: 1906
Information and References: Belfast Telegraph Wednesday 25 July 1906 p1. "12 photographs taken by Electroscope for sixpence. The original Sticky Backs 146 North Street, Belfast and Bangor"


Address: Not currently known - the possible presence of a stickyback photographer in Bethesda is speculation based upon the press report below concerning the stickyback photographer Harry L Lloyd setting up a cinema there.
Possible Practitioner: Harry L Lloyd
Operating Dates: leading up to 1920
Information and References: The Bioscope Thur 29 Jan 1920 p112: John Cotton, Lancs and Yorks Section: " 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."


Address: 22 High Street, Carnarvon
Possible practitioner: Not currently known
Operating dates: 1914
References: Liverpool Echo - Friday 12 June 1914 p8. "Photography. Bromide printer, stickybacks; permanency. Photographer, 22 High Street, Carnarvon"


Newport, 2 Commercial Street, See 7 High Street Birmingham, entry for Crown Studios

Newport, address not known. One of the addresses for Polytechnic Studios for Jack Lewis, listed on postcards along with Swansea, Bristol, and Cardiff. See main entry for Jack Lewis under Swansea below.


Address: Pentre, Rhondda, 210 Ystrad Road See 7 High Street Birmingham, entry for Crown Studios


Address: High Street, Pontypridd
Possible practitioner: GROSSI, Spiridione
Operating dates: 1915
Information and References: The Western Mail, Friday 09 April 1915 p10 reported: “Pontypridd Photographer Summoned. Spiridione Grossi, photographer, of High Street, Pontypridd, was summoned at Porth on Thursday for obstructing the footway by causing a crowd to collect thereon. Evidence was given that number of people were outside defendant’s shop Sunday last looking at photographs in the window. Mr. D. Rees, Pontypridd, submitted that there must lie proof that there was some physical obstruction by defendant himself. Defendant did his best to keep the footway clear, and engaged a man specially for that purpose. The Stipendiary (Mr D. Lleufer Thomas) reserved his decision.


Address: 17 High Street, Rhyl
Possible Practitioner: Individual not currently known, trading as "The American Galleries"
Operating Dates: c.1918
Information and References: See our entry for The American Galleries, Lime Street, Liverpool. Below are two example images from the American Galleries. Their addresses include 17 High Street Rhyl. An advertisement in the Liverpool Echo - Monday 23 December 1918 p4, pleads for the return of a coat accidentally left on a train between Manchester and Llandudno at 1.5pm Dec 16. A reward was offered for its return to American Galleries 19 [sic] High St Rhyl



Address: Chester Road, Shotton, near the Picture Palace
Possible practitioner: Individual not currently known, trading as The Midland Photo Co
Operating dates: 1917
Information and References: Chester Chronicle - Saturday 18 August 1917 p4 and Liverpool Daily Post Friday 24 August 1917 p8. Notification of the sale of equipment from the Midland Photo Co who were closing their Cambrian Studio at Chester Road, Shotton, near the Picture Palace, Flintshire. Sale items included Gossi's (sic) patent sticky back repeating back slide and camera and Gossi's (sic) patent sticky back and postcard printer.


Address: 1903 at Polytechnic Studio 9a Castle Bailey St,Swansea, 1910 and 1914 at 9A Castle St Swansea (presumably the same address). 1920 and 1923 12 High Street Swansea. Also at Polytechnic Studios Bristol, Newport Monmouthshire and Cardiff.
Possible practitioner: Jack LEWIS
Dates operating: At Swansea 1903-1923 possibly later also
Information and References: Cambria Daily Leader, Tuesday 31 March 1903, P2 contains an advertisement from the Polytechnic Studio, Swansea, which reads,
"Our sticky backs are all the rage,
but rumour speaks not true,
When tales of show case sticky backs
are told by folks to you.
We take the film to please you,
and not for vulgar show;
So please yourself and please your friends
and likewise please us too.
Sticky Back Polytechnic Studio Swansea."
Jack Lewis was not only a stickyback shop owner, but appears to have been an inventive, and entrepreneurial all-round commercial photographer. The Cambria Daily Leader, Wednesday 27 June 1906 p4 carried a small advert in which Jack Lewis offered to buy a couple of first class donkeys. Presumably he intended to use these either to advertise his services or as props for holiday photos. It will be interesting to see whether any Jack Lewis photos featuring children on donkeys turn up. The Cambria Daily Leader, Tuesday 26 March 1907 p5 under the heading "The Irrepressible Stickyback", reported on "Mr Jack Lewis's latest advertising novelty". This was a dignified looking old gentleman, bewigged and gowned and looking as to the manner born a barrister at law, distributing advertising tickets on the Swansea streets with the message "The verdict is Jack Lewis's photos cannot be beaten". Numerous portraits and other photos credited to Jack Lewis appear in the Cambria Daily Leader between 1906 and 1911 (probably for longer - these dates reflect the span of these newspapers digitised in the BNA). In the Cambria Daily Leader, Tuesday 13 February 1906 p7, Jack offered prizes for the photographs of the "most contented" boy and girl in Swansea. Entries to be addressed to Jackograph, Leader Buildings, Swansea. Although the Cambrian Daily Leader referred to Lewis in 1906 as "Mr Jack Lewis of Sticky Back fame" in later papers he advertised cartes de visite, cabinets, circle photographs, carbon prints and post card prints. Unusually Jack advertised Stickybacks alongside his other products and services. In the Cambria Daily Leader on Friday 3 August 1906 p8 Jack Lewis advised visiters to Swansea that he would be operating three studion at his Castle Street Studios, one for post cards and cabinets, one for babies and one for sticky-backs. He was certainly not treated locally as just an insignificant producer of novelty photos. In the Cambria Daily Leader Monday 6 August 1906 p8 Jack Lewis gave evidence in a trial concerning photos he had taken of a murder scene for the police. In 1919 he was advertising for staff in the Western Mail - Thursday 7 March 1918 p1 advertising "Discharged soldier or lady required for printing department, Jack Lewis, Polytechnic Studio Swansea". In the Western Mail, Saturday 9 November 1918 p3 Mr Jack Lewis, the well known photographer of the Polytechnic Studio 12 High Street Swansea, who had been away from business the last three weeks through illness, announced that he had resumed duties (Spanish flu epidemic?). The postcard shown below, of an unknown Edwardian lady in her wedding dress, shows that Jack Lewis's studios could produce top-end as well as stickyback portraiture. In the lower right corner is embossed "Jack Lewis Polytechnic Studios Bristol, Cardiff, Newport & Swansea". To date no trace has been found of a Jack Lewis in any UK census returns. It may be that "Jack" was a contraction of "John" and that this photographer was John Lewis b 1863 West Bromwich, who in 1911 was a photographer and an employer living at 71 Mansel Street Swansea, with his wife Alice, two daughters and a son. In 1901 John Lewis was a photographer and a worker, living in Swansea.
Kelly's Directories S Wales 1910, 1914, 1920, 1923

Edwardian lady by Jack Lewis Polytechnic Studios Detail listing all Jack Lewis Studios

Postcard studio portrait of an unknown Edwardian bride, embossed detail links Jack Lewis Polytechnic Studios in Bristol, Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.


Tonypandy, 120 Dunraven Street,See 7 High Street Birmingham, entry for Crown Studios

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: 04 December 2021, 15:52

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