Marshall, Keene & Co.


Geography class, Christ's Hospital

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This firm of photographers and printers started in business at Hart Street in Holborn before the Great War, then moved in the 1920s to 95 Portland Road in Hove. It specialised in producing halftone cards of schools and institutions, including interior views. It operated throughout England, and also in Wales and Northern Ireland, fulfilling what in many cases may have been special commissions. Sussex institutions featured include the Royal Sussex County Hospital and Wiston's School at Brighton, Brighton College (set of six cards), the County School for Girls in Lewes (12 or more cards), Furzedown School at Littlehampton, St. Hugh's Charterhouse at Cowfold, the High School for Girls at Horsham, nearby Christ's Hospital, the Franciscan Monastery at Crawley and St Margaret's Convent at East Grinstead.

Marshall, Keene & Co. operated initially from 24/25 Hart Street in Holborn (perhaps from 1912 - see below), selling cards that they arranged to have printed in Saxony, e.g. of Brighton College. With the onset of the Great War anti-German feeling in Britain soon became very intense, and Marshall, Keene & Co. would have found it politically inopportune to continue ordering cards from their Saxony printers. For a time they transferred printing to France. During the war sales of the cards would have slumped badly, and only when peace returned would the firm have seen a revival in its fortunes.

Marshall, Keene & Co. moved their business to Hove in the mid 1920s, where they greatly expanded the range of cards that they produced. They shared at first what seem to have been quite spacious premises in Portland Road with Thomas Dunkerton, a long established photographer. Dunkerton had acquired the premises purely for his own use soon after the start of the century. Late 1920s and early 1930s Directories list Dunkerton and Marshall, Keene & Co. separately, but then the Directory entries change to "Marshall, Keene & Co. (Thos. Dunkerton), photographers", which suggests that the newcomers bought Dunkerton's business from him.

According to John Robards, Marshall, Keene & Co. printed many cards for William Brooker after the First World War (see "W. Brooker of Eastbourne, postcard publisher, 1904-1924" by John Robards, privately published, 1994), but this claim needs to be re-examined because Marshall, Keene & Co. seem to have set up their business in Hove only after Brooker retired.

The cards that Marshall, Keene & Co. produced at their Hove works were unnumbered, unlike the earlier Saxony cards, which had 5-digit reference numbers preceded by the number 12, 13 or 14 in bold face. Joseph Leckey in correspondence with this website makes the plausible suggestion that the bold-face numbers denote the year of production, thus 14 is code for 1914, the last year that Marshall, Keene & Co. commissioned work from their German printers.

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