Collograph Co.


Military camp, Arundel Park, 1909 (East Surrey Regiment)

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Photo mechanical printers, Grange Road, off Portland Road, Hove. This firm published a series of at least 227 real photographic cards of the Military Training Camp at Arundel Park in July 1909. The black and white photographs on the cards lack borders and are variously marked "Collograph", "Collograph Co." or "Collograph Co. Hove" at the bottom right. The lettering of the handwritten captions is fairly distinctive, with the occasional decorative flourish. Each word starts with a capital and continues in lower case. One of the more memorable cards shows the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk visiting the camp with their little daughter. Another shows a herd of fallow deer running between the soldiers' tents. To quote the caption: "Very early on the morning of the 3rd August a large herd of deer swept like a hurricane through the Middlesex Camp whilst the men were sleeping in their tents. This unique photo was taken by the Collograph Man who was abroad early. Arundel Park, 1909". Paul Green (Polegate) has found another card that shows soldiers of the East Surrey Regiment at Arundel marching past a sales tent belonging to the Collograph Co. Soldiers could buy postcards at the tent or hand in films for developing. In 1911 Collograph produced a series of at least 27 cards of the 5th Buffs camp at Crowborough and at least 80 cards of another regimental camp at Hassocks.

Collograph published a selection of collotype cards of Barcombe, some hand tinted and others black and white. The words "Post Card" on the reverse are enclosed in a heavily ornamented banner. One of the cards is a multi-view with decorative sprays of foliage and an ornamented border. Several cards were issued anonymously; while one has been found labelled "Printed and published by the British Collotype Company, West Street, Croydon". The picture on the card from Croydon is included in the multi-view, which claims to have been printed by the Collograph Co. of Hove. This suggests that the two firms worked together, possibly under the same management. Two 1908 postmarks have been seen.

Alan Barwick in his "Postcards of Henfield" on the Henfield History Group website reports that in about 1910 Collograph produced at least four printed cards of Henfield with floral borders. Hove and Brighton cards are strangely scarce, but include views of a hospital fete at Preston Park on August 27, 1908 (marked "Collograph Co., Grange Road, Hove" on the back), the Hove Police and Fire Brigade's Sports Day in September 1908, the Police Seaside Home in Hove (this card is dated 15 September 1908), the Royal Sanitary Institute Congress in Brighton in 1910, and a series of cards showing the Coronation Celebrations at Preston Park in June 1911. An anonymously published coloured card, identifiable because of its bannered back, shows Southwick Church (1909 postmark). Collograph also issued real photographic cards of a military camp at Hassocks in 1911.

Their most memorable Sussex card, however, is not a collotype but an elaborate and highly idiosyncratic real photographic card entitled "The new Battle of Hastings". This was issued as a record of a military exercise on March 17, 1909, when nearly 500 motorists were persuaded by the AA to drive from London to Brighton, carrying an entire battalion of Guards consisting of upwards of 1000 officers and men. The card has elaborately drawn scrollwork, floral decorations, an explanatory notice, and a photograph of cars and crowds on the seafront.

Collograph handed out marketing cards to advertise their work and encourage additional business. A florally embellished Collograph card that has been found shows the entrance lodge at Stanmer Park in Brighton and announces that the firm will print collotype cards to order "from your own photo" for 10 shillings per 250 or 25 shillings per 1000. Another, possibly later, advertising card (showing Barcombe) is less generous, quoting 11 shillings per 250 or 26 shillings per 1000.

As far as can be determined, Brighton and Hove Directories make no mention of Collograph. Although one of the many residents in Grange Road may have been the "Collograph Man", who took the photographs that appear on the cards, it is quite possible that the printing of the cards was handled in Croydon. Unfortunately, the Directories list the residents, but not their business activities, and the cards do not disclose where exactly in Grange Road Collograph was based. Even with a lot more research it may be impossible to identify the Collograph Man".

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