Matthew Broadhead

How Victorian Photographer Frederick William Broadhead Advertised

Written by Matthew Broadhead

On 26th November 1869 Leicester Journal published the earliest advertisement from Frederick William Broadhead (F. W. B. from this moment onwards), a local Leicester photographer who:

BEGS to inform his Friends and the Public generally, that he had REMOVED from 84 Humberstone-road, to more convenient Premises, situate No. 18, WELFORD-ROAD, where he will carry on his business as usual. CARTES DE VISITE, from 6s. per dozen. PORTRAITS IN OIL, from One Guinea upwards.

6s. per dozen carte de visite was a competitive price point compared to other local rates advertised in The Street, Alphabetical & Trade Directory of Leicester of 1870. William Rowe offered the same for 7s. whilst J. & T. Spencer commanded 10s. 6d. for their work. It was in August 1860 that The Photographic News first announced that ‘album or visiting card portraits’ were occupying ‘a large share of the attention of photographers in London’. This was followed by overwhelming commercial success with a decline in demand by 1864. According to Audrey Linkman, this period was marked by “growing and persistent reports of significant reductions in prices, said to be due to increased competition chasing a declining market.” (Linkman, 1993) The earliest examples of photography from F. W. B. showcased no fixed studio address, his carte de visite bore the words ‘Broadhead’ and ‘Leicester’ on the lower front with a plain back. It can be assumed that these came from the period he was situated at 84 Humberstone Road. The advertisement not only informed when F. W. B. moved from one specific address to another, it marked a major development in his photographic business. Carte de visite from this period are much improved quality-wise, with the thin mount featuring more information:


The design is simple but consistent with those of other professional photographers in the late 1860’s. Despite the announcement of this new premises at 18 Welford Road arriving in late November 1869, F. W. B. moved again to 74 Welford Road in 1870. The earliest carte de visite design from 74 Welford Road featured the same design as before, which illustrates the overlap between these two addresses. This design changed twice more between 1870-5 with the first marking a shift to a design featuring cursive text with the Leicester coat of arms. This was developed further with the advertisement that they were a ‘portrait and landscape photographer’ who could enlarge all portraits to life size and painted in oils and watercolours. Not only was the mount being used to advertise the photographer, it was now being used to publicise services offered. On 13th May 1875, The Leicester Daily Mercury printed the following advertisement:

F. W. BROADHEAD, PORTRAIT, MACHINERY, LANDSCAPE, AND ANIMAL PAINTER. On the shortest Notice. 72 & 74 Welford-road, Leicester; and Loughborough. Portraits enlarged and finished in Black and White, Oils or Water Colours, from the miniature to life-size.

This demonstrates that F. W. B. expanded his offering from portrait and landscape photography to include commissions for machinery and animal paintings. It also shows that the business has expanded to include 72 Welford Road and Market Place, Loughborough. The Commercial and General Directory and Red Book of Leicester published in 1875 notes that the photographer:

Begs to announce that he has ENLARGED HIS PREMISES, thereby adding a NEW SHOWROOM and WAITING ROOM for the convenience of visitors, which, with an entire REMODELING of his Studio, makes it one of the most convenient and comfortable Photographic Galleries in the Midland Counties. Invalids and aged people will find this new alteration a great acquisition, as the Studio and Waiting Room are both on the Ground Floor.

The enlargement of his premises to include a new showroom and waiting room would have appealed to new and returning customers alike, but the remodeling of his studio along with specific provision for invalids and aged people conveys how important that demographic would have been to his business. The Post Office Directory of Leicester & Rutland published in 1876 shows that F. W. Broadhead still occupies 72 and 74 Welford-road, Leicester. Attendance at the Cattle Market in Leicester has ceased, but he continued to trade at Market Place in Loughborough. This is the first advertisement where F. W. Broadhead is shown to specialise in machinery photography, but he has also purchased licenses for the Patent Lambertype and Chromotype enlarging and printing processes. All of these developments are confirmed by photographic mounts that share the same information. The licenses would have been expensive to acquire but show a commitment to offering recent cutting edge developments in photography. The following piece of information from “Celebration of Innovation: A History of Autotype 1868-2005” by John Moore explains what Lambertypes and Chromotypes were: “In 1876 Autotype purchased patents from Claude Leon Lambert of Paris for his improved method of retouching negatives and positives called Lambertypes and Lambert’s own version of the carbon process which he christened ‘Chromotype’.”  (Moore, 2005) It is likely that F. W. Broadhead purchased patent rights for both processes together as a result of Autotype purchasing patents from Lambert and making both processes more widely available in the United Kingdom.

The History, Gazetteer & Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland published in 1877 shows that F. W. B. moved his business to 65 Welford Road by that time. The advertisement printed on his photographic mounts reflected this change, although switching back from the licensee announcement to highlight his enlargements painted in oils or watercolours. Aside from this, there is possibly an even more notable difference. At the bottom of most mounts ‘Marion, Imp. Paris’ was printed in small text. In a short essay about advertising photographic products Michael Pritchard wrote that “The carte de visite craze and new standard styles of presenting photographs supported a specialist stationary trade supplying customized mounts, envelopes and studio paperwork branded with the photographer’s name and studio details.” (Hannavy, J., 2007) Marion & Company, London Stereoscopic Company and Percy Lund & Company were described as the best known in this area. A direct comparison of previous designs with this ‘mainstream’ supplier suggests that the older mounts were cheaper copies manufactured by a third party. The older mounts were fine in terms of their base purpose but their overall quality did not match the branded product. In January 1879, a major announcement was made about the acquisition of a patent Luxograph which was advertised in the Leicester Daily Mercury. Editorial pieces published in The Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury and the Leicester Journal praised F. W. B. for his enterprise in bringing such an advantageous device into Leicester. By October 1879, F. W. B. published another advertisement that showcased a number of new developments in the business. The use of ‘Luxograph Studio’ as the first line shows how F. W. B. used this as a marketing device. This is followed with ‘By Royal Letters Patent’ which may have resulted from adopting the use of artificial light, but by this time F. W. B. had photographed machinery in London, obtained sole appointment as photographer to the 1st Volunteer Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, and photographed Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster. There is also evidence of him having opened a branch studio at Gallowtree Gate which ended up being unsuccessful due to ‘certain annoyances to which he was subjected at his recently-opened establishment’. Wright’s Directory of Leicestershire & Rutland published in 1880 shows that F. W. B. is operating from his main studio at 65 Welford Road but in addition to operating in Loughborough on market day, he also started operating at 5 High Street, Market Harborough one day a week. Similar to the directory advertisement from 1875, ‘a new studio has been added to the (already) extensive premises, and for aged people and invalids will be found most convenient, as it is on the first floor.’ Photographic mounts reflected the addition of Market Harborough but otherwise remained identical. There were a few variants on this design, one featured the same text but presented in landscape format. The other swapped addresses around. There was also variance in how elements were presented at the front bottom part of mounts, which also came in different colours.

Modern Leicester published in 1881 included an advertisement that featured a detailed pricelist. There was also a provision for ‘landscapes, views, and groups taken on the shortest notice’. A more than likely lucrative new area of business was portraits of children which were being taken ‘by an instantaneous process’ which more than likely involved use of the Luxograph. The same year Marion & Co. registered a design called ‘drawing of oblong border with two ornamental corners and plant’. This marked a shift from purely type based designs (excluding the inclusion of a monogram or coat of arms) to those that benefitted from the artistic use of visual flourishes, illustrations, patterns, and shapes. Marion & Co.’s new design featuring a leaning parasol with roses in a standing vase was used by F. W. B. from 1881 up until the early 1890s by which time it was superseded by more up to date designs. This was monogrammed on the front bottom with most examples also featuring the royal coat of arms stating that he was ‘patronized by their royal highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales’. Marion & Company were the primary supplier used by F. W. B. for his photographic mounts upwards of twenty years but there are a few exceptions to this rule. Reeves & Hoare (or Hoare & Reeves) of Holborn, London were an alternative supplier known as engravers and printers.

Advertisements printed in newspapers and directories often featured pricing for certain products. Fortunately, F. W. B. publicized his prices from when he started business in 1869 until around 1888 when he started to use a phase such as ‘most reasonable prices’ instead. Below is a transcription of advertisements which featured with prices:

Leicester Journal of the 26th November 1869

Carte de visite from 6s. per dozen

Portraits in oil from one guinea upwards

The Leicester Daily Mercury of the 28th October 1879

Carte de visite 6s. 6d per dozen

Modern Leicester, 1881

Carte de visite 6s. per dozen

Six carte de visite 3s. 6d

Cabinets 14s. per dozen

Six cabinets 8s.

Paintings in oil or watercolours with frame from 12s. 6d.

Wright’s Directory of Leicester & Fifteen Miles Round, 1883-4

Carte de visite from 5s. per dozen

Carte midget from 2s. per dozen

Wright’s Directory of Leicestershire, 1887-8

Carte de visite from 5s. per dozen

Cabinets from 14s. per dozen

Best finished cartes 8s. 6d. per dozen

Best finished cabinets 16s. per dozen

Carte de visite were commonly sold by the dozen, it is first noticeable that the price for these dropped from 6s. to 5s. per dozen. Cabinets also remained at the same price point, although the ‘best finished’ versions were more expensive. An assumption is that the price would go up as a business because a known entity with a solid reputation, but the carte de visite suffered from a continual decline in popularity until it was superseded entirely by the cabinet card photograph during the 1890s. F. W. B. used a variety of advertising mediums for his business, but of these the press was of primary importance. This was because in the “1850s and early 1860s, the Advertisement Duty, the Stamp Duty and the Paper Duty were abolished, which led to a proliferation of new newspapers, an expansion of newspaper circulations and an enlargement of newspapers themselves.” (Lloyd, 2007) As advertisements were also no longer being taxed, newspapers became an attractive option for local traders and shopkeepers such as F. W. B. who would have been able to choose from a large number of papers covering particular towns or districts where he traded. Unlike magazines which proliferated during this time, newspaper advertisements did not benefit from large, eye-catching illustrations. Another reason for the growth of advertising constituted a significant increase in real wages in Britain, with increasing numbers of people having more money to spend. “Crucially, by the 1870s and 1880s, consumer spending among the working classes—who comprised 75-80% of Britain's occupied population—started to rise. Thus, more and more people in Britain were able to concern themselves not just with purchasing basic necessities, but with buying more and better food, clothing and furnishings; they could also afford to spend more money on leisure activities.” (Lloyd, 2007) It was not until the 1890s that newspaper proprietors introduced larger, illustrated advertisements. This is the reason why all F. W. B.’s advertisements (in newspapers) were typographic. New attitudes toward advertising developed slowly due to a reluctance to disturb formats, but fresh varieties and sizes of type along with advertisements being allowed to break column rules with illustrations became increasingly common. ‘Display’ advertisements were the final hurdle, being introduced last. Newspapers had to succumb to the demands of advertisers to secure their patronage which in turn provided greater revenue to cover the increased printing cost of larger and more widely-circulated papers that required expensive machinery. There were also higher news-gathering costs to contend with.

In May 1896, F. W. B. owed the bank £114 when they pressed him for payment. In response, a statement was sent showing he was solvent, which resulted in an agreement to pay £2 per week. He afterwards found that in the statement his stock was considerably overvalued and that there were a number of small liabilities. Unfortunately, a receiving order was made on the 9th December 1896 to which F. W. B. adjudicated bankrupt at his own request. The first meeting was at 12 noon on the 23rd December 1896, where a total indebtedness of £301 16s. 10d. to unsecured creditors, and total assets (including trade fixtures, fittings, utensils, &c. £20, furniture £35, and good book debts £41 13s. 8d.) amounting to £107 10s. 8d. was recorded. Deducting from this amount £2 7s. 6d. for rates, there remained a deficiency of £196 13s. 8d. Of this amount, liabilities were around £100 money lent, and £40 arrears of rent with the remainder being trade debts. There was no offer of composition. The Leicester Journal published a piece that provided more details about what happened on the 25th December:

As to the cause of failure, the debtor says: ‘I did very well so long as I was in the Welford-road, where I was in business 23 years. I left and took a studio on the New-walk, where I lost all my connection, and was put to great expense, and lost by degrees all the money I had saved.’

V. Markham Lester provides more context by stating that “to a large extent, most bankruptcies represented failures of small firms subject to random factors unrelated to the cyclical performance of the economy as a whole. (Lester, 1995) A cyclical economy is sensitive to the cycle of business, where revenues are generally higher in periods of economic prosperity and expansion but lower in periods of economic downturn and contraction. One factor worth considering is that of increased competition with other photographic studios. The Wright’s Directory for 1870 shows that when F. W. B. started his business he was one of eighteen photographers operating in Leicester. The same directory reported thirteen photographers by 1880 and twenty-four by 1889-90. This shows that there was a dramatic decrease followed by an even larger increase of photographic studios over two decades. In 1896 (the year F. W. B. went bankrupt) there were 26 studios operating. This may have been what forced the business to enter a ‘twilight zone’ of trading whilst insolvent. By the time F. W. B. left Leicester in 1903 there were twenty-eight studios which increased to thirty-four by 1906. The Official Receiver recorded that he started in business as a photographer in Leicester ‘about 26 years ago’, when he took a shop on Welford Road, where he continued until 1892. He left and took the New Walk premises but the lease of the Welford Road shop did not expire until 1893, so he had that premises ‘on his hands’ for a year. For three years, from 1887 to 1890, he had a studio at Imperial Buildings, Gallowtree Gate, besides the Welford Road business. Money was lost there and at New Walk, despite having saved over £520 during the first 20 years. He left the Museum Studio for Stanley Chambers, Gallowtree Gate to begin trading as ‘Broadhead & Son’ in March 1895 before moving again to ‘Stockdale Terrace’ at 19 London Road in 1896, this time as ‘Broadhead & Co’. This was followed by a public examination at 10am on the 7th January 1897 at the Castle in Leicester. The first and final notice of dividends showed that 3s. 9d. per pound was payable on 10th June 1897 to the office of Official Receiver at 1 Berridge Street, Leicester. It was not until the 12th November 1897 that the official receiver (also the trustee) released F. W. B., presumably because the dividends were paid. Photographic mounts for Broadhead & Co. were not printed on the reverse, presumably to increase profit or keep prices down. No new advertisements were published after the previous announcement for portraits of ‘The Late Lord Haddon’ printed in The Journal in the latter months of 1894. The only evidence of Broadhead & Co. trading in Leicester into the early Edwardian period are historical business directories which suggest that F. W. B. and his son (Frederick Joseph Broadhead) ran their own studios at separate addresses. By 1899, F. J. B. participated in the Second Boer War as part of the Imperial Yeomanry which likely left F. W. B. to operate by himself before his permanent relocation to Farnborough sometime in 1903. From 1894 until his passing in 1925 he continued operating as a photographer, but no longer advertised in newspapers.


Hannavy, J., 2007. Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography. 1st ed. New York: Routledge.

Lester, V., 1995. Victorian Insolvency.

Linkman, A., 1993. The Victorians. London: Tauris Parke Books.

Lloyd, A., 2007. Advertising in 19th Century British Newspapers | Amy J. Lloyd. [online] Available at: <>.

Moore, J., 2005. Celebration of Innovation: A History of Autotype 1868-2005. Wantage: Autotype International Ltd.