||Album containing 74 mounted prints, primarily of landscapes, churches and castles in Scotland and the north east of England, dating to around 1880-1890s. All but two are albumen prints and all were commercially produced by professional photographers.
Provenance and context:
This album is an excellent example of the view scrap collections compiled during the Victorian era. The prints were probably acquired over time, perhaps on holiday although it is unlikely they reflect a single tour. Item 59 shows prints for a sale at a chemist in Wigtown, offering a fascinating glimpse into how tourists and travellers bought their view scraps and evidence of the proliferation of prints for sale at the end of the 19th century.
The initials "Mc C" are embossed in gold letters on the front cover and are presumed to relate to the album's original owner. No further information about their identity has been found but the size and quality of the album prints suggests they were willing to spend money on their collection; the prints are mostly Imperial size, the largest commonly available and the most expensive (about two shillings each), twice the price of Cabinet size. (Smaller, carte-de-visite size view scraps were also available.) As the album it is full it is reasonable to think that "Mc C" may have compiled others but it is unknown if these survive elsewhere.
Often compilers of albums added further information and dates to view scraps, but not in this case. Fortunately, the professional photographers have included captions on most of the prints. Some of the James Valentine print numbers (shown in the captions) were registered. Based on this information the album has been dated to around 1880-1890s. However, registration information should be treated with caution as prints may have been sold for years after being registered.
Professional photographers represented in the album range from the nationally important businesses of George Washington Wilson and James Valentine, to local suppliers like Matthew Auty of Tynemouth. Some of the photographers are unknown. Because Wilson and Valentine were large enterprises, the initials GWW and JV is no guarantee the photograph was by either individual. Their respective sons and other photographers were involved in the businesses. The standard of images produced was variable and a poorer quality is evident in some of the later images (with higher numbers). The photographs in the Poulton Series (a smaller scale business rival to Wilson and Valentine) are also likely to be by a variety of photographers.
Physical and technical aspects:
Covered in green leather [?] with gold embossing. Dimensions: 28 x 38 cm with pages 26.4 x 35 cm. The pages are thick and appear purpose made for mounting view scraps. A label inside the back cover reads "M W & Co Ltd, London, No 6137", presumably the printers Marcus Ward & Co. Generally good condition though some scuffing at edges of cover, some warping of the pages which has allowed dust to discolour the pages, as well as some foxing spots. The prints are pasted onto the pages and face each other without any interleaving. The image quality is generally good despite some fading.
The photographs would have been taken by dry glass plates which were replacing wet collodion plates at this time. Although a portable darkroom was no longer required, a supply of glass plate negatives (the same size as the resulting print), together with a large camera, tripod and other equipment, would have been a considerable load to transport.