Sunday, September 1, 2013

Our oldest photograph?

Back in February when we first inherited the suitcase, I didn't know what to do with it but knew I wanted to find out more about the contents.

This is one of those items that particularly intrigued me. I'd never seen a carte de visite before and had no idea what it was. Following a visit to the Tunbridge Wells Museum, I discovered that they are a kind of very early business card. This is possibly the oldest picture we now own.

The front of the carte de visite

First patented in 1854, the carte de visite became extremely popular just a few years later and was exchanged among friends and visitors. I wish I knew who the lovely lady pictured is but sadly I have no idea why she has been treasured for 150 years.

The card is slightly bigger than today's average business card and as it's mounted on card, it's a lot thicker. I can't imagine you would keep it in a wallet, unless it was of your loved one perhaps.

The back of the card gives details of where it was created

As you can see from the back of the card (above), it was produced in Grosvenor Road in Tunbridge Wells. I believe Henry Jenkins was a well known photographer in the town but I haven't been able to find out much about him or the Alpha Studio (below).

As always, if anyone knows more about him, or recognises the woman pictured on our carte de visite, I would love to hear from you.

H. Jenkins studio tunbridge wells


  1. I'd like to think she's an ancestor, as I can see a resemblance to early pictures of mum (or is that just wishful thinking?). I wonder how on Earth we'd go about finding who she is?

  2. I love vintage photos-how fascinating!
    I think it is fun to write about their lives captured in wonder and what if!