Military camp believed to be at Offington Park, Worthing. The area is now entirely built up
Walter Gardiner founded his photography business at 1 Bath Place in Worthing in 1893, taking over a studio that had belonged to E. Patterson Pett. As business increased, the small size of the studio became an ever-greater problem, and in 1900 Gardner and his wife opened their new and much larger Broadway Studio in Brighton Road, Worthing, opposite Steyne Gardens (see Geoffrey Godden, Collecting picture postcards, 1996, Phillimore, Chichester). They specialised in "artistic photography for portraiture", especially miniatures and hand tinted portraits, but landscape photography was not neglected. In about 1905 Gardiner published a guidebook to "Worthing and Sussex Downs", illustrated with 170 of his landscape photographs, ranging from Arundel in the west to the Devil's Dyke in the east.
Gardiner's work photographing the leading residents of Worthing and their families left him with little time or incentive to undertake general postcard publication. However, as Godden has established, he began designing court-sized cards with tiny vignette pictures as early as 1894, and by 1902 was producing cards of more modern design (with undivided backs) for his own private use and studio publicity. Although he accepted commissions to supply local schools with commemorative and publicity cards, and also photographed military camps, he seems to have avoided direct involvement with the mass-market trade in local view cards, which would perhaps have damaged his reputation for high-class photography. He preferred instead to supply other entrepreneurs with photographs, which they could then arrange to be reproduced en masse to sell to summer tourists. One individual that he helped in this way was Mrs Lucy Mason, who had a stationery, toys and fancy goods shop at 1 Montague Street in Worthing. She published collotype cards of Worthing and district printed in Germany from 1905 onwards, and some of these used known Gardiner photographs, but it is the name of her shop (Mason's Library), and not Gardiner's name, that appears on the cards.
Gardiner's portrait postcards show theatrical performers, the Mayor of Worthing and other dignitaries. Some are labelled on the front "Photo, Gardiner, Worthing" in micro-print, others are discreetly blind stamped.To directory of publishers
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