Here is a selection of cartes de visite by Walter A. SMITH, who was at 18 Brook Street, Ipswich, between 1867 and 1883. Their dates are not marked, so the following notes give my best guesses, which I hope will be refined by other people's contributions.
This young lady is from the same Canadian album as the two prints by J. R. SAWYER posted yesterday. The length of her skirt reveals that she may be older than she looks, but that hasn't helped me to identify her. A date in the late 1860s is indicated by several features: the style of the dress; the exposed ears; the full-length pose; the studio's furnishings; and, not least, the inclusion of Mr SAWYER's name on the back.
William GOBBITT (1837-1913) of Sudbourne and Bawdsey married Jane Elizabeth GARRARD (1839-1871) at Athelington on 19 September 1866. The inscription on the back ("William Gobbitt about time of his marriage 1866") was probably written much later by their daughter Celia Mary ROPE (1868-1960). The date must have been at least six months after the wedding (since Mr SMITH became the owner of the Italian Studio in March 1867) unless this was a reprint of an earlier picture, but I think the negative number is high enough to make that unlikely.
22,242 A Vig [vignette]
Another unidentified lady of uncertain date in my Canadian cousin's album. The fringed hairstyle wouldn't be out of place in the 1880s, while the epaulettes or chevrons on the sleeves may suggest the 1860s if not the early 1870s, which I think the negative number will corroborate. The trade plate is remarkably plain for that decade. Could this be a specimen or "proof" printed prior to approval by the client?
I'm completely baffled by the suffix "GCO". I know of no relatives with those initials and I think the lady in this picture is more likely to be my great-great-grandmother, Ellen Moyse GOBBITT née SMYTH (1850-1932), who used to own the album containing it. In view of the negative number, the date would be some time after her marriage in February 1872.
I bought this photograph mainly for the number, not for the unknown lady with a mottled face. Her dress is so distinctive that I expect someone will be able to date it more precisely than my estimate of the very late 1870s or early 1880s.
7006? oval ¼ P
This is rather puzzling, and not just because I can't identify the young lady, whose picture was covered by a later one in my family album. It's obviously an oval shape and I understand that quarter-plate was a standard size for a carte de visite print or negative, but the number 7006 is much lower than any others I've seen in the series used at 18 Brook Street. If it was written in error for 17,006, that would place it in J. R. SAWYER's time, about three years or more before 1870, when this hair style was in vogue. It would make no more sense to me if it were 700G, which seems less likely. The decorative trade plate is unusual, so I'd be interested to see any other examples.