William Vick

 

(1833-1911)

 

 

[These notes draw mainly on records found by David Gobbitt, with supplementary material drawn from Robert Malster’s Suffolk (Sutton Publishing, 1997).]

 

 

Dated records (from The Ipswich Journal)

 

1868, 19th December

Having bought the business, equipment and negatives of William Cobb, Vick announced the launch of his studio at London Road, Ipswich. He was offering to take landscapes, residences, groups and machinery as well as portraits.

 

1869, 3rd April

A report of the annual ‘chit-chat’ meeting at the Ipswich Mechanics’ Institution noted that Vick had exhibited ‘some magnificent photographic portraits, taken by a new process, of which he has purchased the right to exclusive use of the French inventor. These portraits are remarkable for brilliancy, clearness and perspective. They resemble very highly and delicately finished portraits on ivory, more than any other now before the public. Rumour credits Mr. Vick with the possession of a more extended knowledge of the chemistry, which forms the basis of his beautiful art, than most photographic practitioners.’ (These pictures sound like some kind of opaltype, a process that he certainly used in later years. In 1893 he was offering a free opaltype with every half-dozen cabinet prints.)

 

1870, 29th November

A report of the first public meeting of the Ipswich Science Gossip Society named Vick as a committee member. The article referred to his varied scientific interests, his use of magnesium lighting for portraits, his microscopic photography, and his production of indestructible medallion portraits ‘burned into a porcelain face, which is cased over copper’. (This technique created pictures durable enough to be set into gravestones, though the practice of doing so seems to have caught on more in the United States than in Great Britain.)

 

1877, 7th March

Vick advertised his studio as ‘The East Suffolk School of Photography’, where he offered lessons to amateurs and advice on the purchase of equipment and chemicals.

 

1888, 11th April

Vick was named as a committee member of the recently-formed Ipswich Photographic Association.

 

 

His work

 

Vick’s views of Ipswich streets provided a record of change in the town during the Victorian period. He evidently catered for a taste for nostalgia, for some of his best-selling prints showed buildings that were demolished in the course of Victorian ‘improvements’. Since one such image was captioned ‘Old Butter Market and Queen Street, 1830’, it seems that some of his photographs reproduced engravings made before the arrival of photography.

 

For popular pictures he speeded up production by making a glass positive from his original negative, and then making up to a dozen copy negatives from that. Examples of multiple copy negatives are among the collection of his work held by the Ipswich Record Office.

 

 

 

Return to studio notes index

 

Return to home page