Sharing a picture back then was a rare and precious thing

Cabinet studies like this were the photo sharing of their day.
Cabinet studies like this were the photo sharing of their day.

The ability to take photographs on a mobile ’phone and instantly transmit them to friends and beyond can have a dark side, as we’ve come to hear a lot of in the news.

Let’s call it ‘over-sharing.’

And it stands in stark contrast to the era here, when a cabinet photograph like this was an expensive and precious thing, to be given to only a chosen few.

This is another picture from Kevin Blair, and perhaps someone may recognise this sombre couple, taken by a Jarrow photographer, J MacMillan, whom I’ve not been able to find anything about.

In searching, though, I came across an interesting example of the ‘currency’ in photographs of this era.

It concerned a man, EH Stothard, who was giving up his job as overseer for the the Jarrow, Monkton and Hedworth area of the Board of Guardians after 19 years.

A dinner and testimonial was held for him at the Alexandra Hotel in Jarrow, where he was showered with gifts.

In his speech, it was reported, he said: “He would very much like that his friends would send their photographs to him; if they would do so, he was willing to pay for them or give them one of his own in exchange.”

One of his leaving gifts had been an album, so he already had a place in which to display them.

This was a time when a single cabinet photograph could cost up to four shillings, nearer in value to £10 today, so it was a not-inconsiderable request.