betty balfour




Have you ever heard of Betty Balfour? You would definitely know who she was if you lived in England during the silent film era because she is considered the most popular actress there during the 1920’s. She was known as the “British Mary Pickford” and “Britain’s Queen of Happiness”. Her fans knew her best for her “Squibs” series of films. Betty Balfour (1903-1977) was also known for her stage career. She made her stage debut in 1913 and worked in theater for several years before entering the film industry. She did not attempt to extend her career to Hollywood  but she did star in a number of German films. In Britain she starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Champagne” (1928). Her sound era debut was in “The Nipper” (1930), Her popularity began to drop in the 1930’s though she still was getting film roles. In all, she appeared in more than 35 films. Balfour was married to composer Jimmy Campbell but the marriage fell apart in 1941 after a ten year run. She attempted a theater comeback in 1952 but it failed. She died in Weybridge, Surrey, England at the age of seventy-four. This vintage real photo postcard was produced by Picturegoer as part of a series (no. 2a). The company was based in London. Picturegoer was a British fan magazine focussing on contemporary films and the actors and actresses who performed in them. Picturegoer also published postcards. In fact, they produced over 6500 different real photo postcards on 2000 actors and actresses.

The second real photo postcard see here is of unknown origin. The publisher is not identified nor is the photographer. Interestingly, just as in the first image, Miss Balfour is wearing pearls. She certainly was quite pretty.

The third real photo postcard features Miss Balfour in costume wearing a headpiece with very large feathers. Her v-neck dress is very beautiful. The portrait of Miss Balfour was taken by the Maull and Fox studio. The postcard was published by Cinimagazine and was part of a series (no. 84). Henry Maull (1829-1914) was a British photographer known for his portraits of famous individuals. He became a member of the Royal Photographic Society in 1870. During his career he had several partnerships. One of these partnerships (c1856-1865) was with George Henry Polyblank and the pair were very talented and produced great photographs. Between 1879 and 1885 Maul partnered with John Fox (1832-1907). The partnership with Fox was ended due to bankruptcy. However, the studio’s name was maintained after the bankruptcy by Fox’s son Herbert. Examination of the date of Maull and Fox’s partnership, it is clear that this photograph was produced by a photographer operating after the reign of Maull and Fox. Much of Maull’s work can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England.

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This vintage real photo postcard features Edwardian theater actress Miss Dorothy Chard. Preliminary research yielded little information about her life and her career. More intensive research is required to uncover biographical information. The Internet Broadway Data Base (IBDB) notes that Miss Chard appeared in eleven Broadway shows from 1926 through 1930. She played in musicals but she primarily appeared in comedies. Among her credits are “Merry-Go-Round” (1927) and “Cinderelative” (1930). The dearth of information about Miss Chard reveals that she certainly was not a leading actress of her time but she certainly was beautiful and well known enough to merit the publishing of a photo postcard by the Rotary Postcard company. This postcard was part of the Rotary Photographic series (no. 4353 A). The photograph of Dorothy Chard appearing on this postcard was taken by the Foulsham & Banfield Studio.The pair were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio from the 1900’s through the 1920’s. The postcard is postmarked 1909 from Edinburg, Scotland. Edinburg is Scotland’s capital city. The content of the message on this postcard mentions “fresh cards” referring to newly released photo postcards. Collecting such cards was a popular hobby during this era. I guess this hobby was a precursor to collecting pokemon. I prefer collecting photo portraits. Call me “old school”.                                                             The second vintage postcard features a portrait of Dorothy Chard from the same series as the top postcard. This Rotary postcard (no. 4353 K) presents a more complete view of the actress. Miss Chard was dressed in different clothing and accessories for the two portraits. She looks very friendly in card 1 but has an arrogant expression in card 2. The message on the reverse of this postcard states “Dearest Lil, Have you been feeling well today. I have. M. has not spoken to me yet. Wish I was going to see you tonight. –?– on saturday night. Have you had your chocolates? Hope you will like the P-C (postcard). I think it is very good. With fondest love. I remain yours forever.  (JM?)  My- Word -” It is interesting that the writers of postcard 1 and 2 both mention the photo postcard that they are sending. It would be interesting to know what “My-Word-” means. Does it mean “I will remain yours forever, you have my word”. Hopefully, a Cabinet Card Gallery visitor will be able to offer an explanation,



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The top vintage real photo postcard features  a portrait of English stage actress Evelyn Millard (1869-1941). She was well known for her acting in Shakespearian theater as well as for her beauty. She is also noted for creating the role of Cecily Cardewin in the premier of Oscar Wildes play “The Importance of Being Earnest” (1895). This postcard was produced by the Rotary Photo Company of London, England.
   The bottom photo postcard is a portrait of Miss Millard taken by the Davidson Brothers studio in London, England. The postcard is part of a series (“Real Photographic Series” no. 2195). Davidson Brothers was located in both London and New York City. The firm operated between 1901 and 1911. Some of their theatrical postcard portraits have the same format as many of the Rotograph photo cards.  This postcard was postmarked in South Lambeth in 1907. Lambeth is a district in Central London. The writer of the message on this postcard starts the communication with “Dear Lizzie, I think this is one of your favorites”. Most likely the writer was stating that Evelyn Millard was one of the favorite actresses of the recipient of the postcard. Collecting postcard images of theatrical stars was certainly quite popular at the time this postcard was written.

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This vintage photograph is special in that it captures emotion. The baby nurse pictured in this photograph is looking at the baby in her charge in a warm loving way. The nurse is looking at the baby in an identical manner that a mother looks at her infant. The photograph is also special in that it shows  a nurse’s uniform that dates back to slightly after the turn of the nineteenth century. This photograph was taken by Fred Gegg who operated a studio in Evesham, England. Evesham is a town in the district of Worcestershire. Frederick George Gegg (1871-1925? took photographs in Evesham from about 1899 until his death.

Published in: on October 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The little girl seen in this cabinet card portrait is absolutely adorable. Her hair is disheveled but the “wild look” suits her. Note the toy seen in the bottom left hand corner of the photograph. The toy appears to be a train car, or perhaps, a circus car. The studio that produced this image is the American Photo Company which was located in Luton, England.  Luton is a large town in Bedfordshire, about thirty miles northwest of London. It is interesting that the American Photo Company is located in England rather than in the United States.

Published in: on September 11, 2017 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This cabinet card features a fashionable clean-cut gentleman posing for a studio portrait. His nice clothing indicates that he was a well-to-do man. Perhaps he was on vacation at the time of this photograph. He was photographed by James C. Dinham who operated the Gainsboroough Gallery in Torquay, England. Torquay is a seaside resort town located on the English Channel in southwest England. This gentleman may have been staying at one of the local resorts. A photograph of Dinham’s studio can be seen below. The photograph was taken in 1918 and the gallery is decorated for Armistice Day. The image and further information can be found at the Devon Heritage Site on the internet. Dinham established his business in the 1890’s. He had a very distinguished clientele but his gallery bordered a very poor area of the city. The residents lived in “ancient tenements” and were poor and lived in squalor. Dinham visited this neighborhood and took many photographs of colorful characters and street scenes. He gave these photos catchy titles but in truth, Dinham was engaging  in photo journalism. He was one of the pioneers in this field of photography. In researching Mr. Dinham, it was found that he began his studio 1881. The source reports that the gallery closed in about 1910 only to become “Dinham & Sons” which operated from 1910 until about 1939. Research also found that Dinham was cited in “Photography” (1898) for photographing the Duke of York during one of the Duke’s visits to Torbay (the Borough which includes Torquay).


Published in: on September 8, 2017 at 2:05 pm  Comments (1)  
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This cabinet card portrait is notable for at least two reasons. First, the woman in the photograph is beautifully dressed. Note the matching trim on the cuffs of her sleeves, across her chest, and on her high collar. The second reason that makes this image special is that the photograph was taken by a female photographer. Alice Josephine Swithenbank operated the Elm Street Studio in Hunslet, Leeds, England. Hunslet is an inner-city area in south Leeds.

Published in: on August 19, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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This cabinet card portrait features a sweet looking teenage girl dressed in what today we might call, a “preppy look”. Perhaps she is a student. Be sure to note her scarf and hat. The girl’s eyes are wide open and she appears to be suppressing a smile. The photographer’s camera captured the girl in an outdoor setting. The photographer was Hy. Flett who operated a studio in London. Interestingly, the studio was located at 119 Cheapside. This image is actually the second cabinet card in the “Cabinet Card Gallery” from a studio on Cheapside. Research revealed that  Cheapside  is the name of a street in the city of London. The name Cheapside is derived from the term “marketplace”. Henry Flett (1872-1948) was born in St. Leonards in Sussex. He operated two London studios. The Cheapside studio existed between 1897 and 1940. His second studio was located at 103 Newgate Street (1903-1909). He partnered with Arthur Frame Stevens in the 1930’s.

Published in: on March 28, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This cabinet card image captures a wedding that appears to involve two couples. It is only a hypothesis but I believe the participants in this double wedding include two brides (seated), two grooms (seated), four members of the wedding party (standing). The men are all wearing top hats and tails. One of the seated grooms is wearing light colored pants with his dark jacket. All the men are wearing boutonnieres and smoking cigars. The brides are wearing white gowns and flowers in their hair. Interestingly, the two grooms are sitting very close to one of the brides while the second bride seems distant, almost an afterthought. It is notable that this wedding party portrait was taken outside. Although the location that this photograph was taken is unknown, the image was with a group of other photographs that were from England. Therefore, it is likely that this is an English cabinet card. This cabinet card was trimmed in order to fit into an album or frame. There is glue residue on the reverse of the image.





Published in: on October 28, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (6)  
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This vintage real photo postcard features theater actress Miss Ethel Erskine as she appeared in the role of Ilona in the production of “Gipsy Love”. Miss Erskine was a beautiful woman with dazzling and engaging eyes. Preliminary research discovered little about her biographical history. However, some information was found about the production of “Gipsy Love”. The show was a romantic operetta in three acts. The production played at the Carltheater in Vienna (1910), the Globe Theatre on Broadway (1911), and Daly’s Theatre in London (1912). This postcard was printed in Britain and produced by Rotary Photo as part of a series (11476 D).