Sydney Butler


Preston village, Brighton. Reproduced courtesy of Peter Booth.

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Sub-postmaster, newsagent and draper at 211 Preston Road, Brighton (at the junction with North Road) from the early 1920s to the mid 1930s. By 1938 Butler had moved to Baker Street, off London Road. He is believed to have been the publisher of a numbered series of sepia-toned and white-bordered real photographic cards of the Withdean, Patcham and Preston areas of Brighton that are often labelled "Butler, Preston" in the bottom right corners of the photographs. Captions are written mostly in lower-case with capitals reserved for the start of words. Postmarks seen are tightly clustered between 1927 and 1931. Serial numbers suggest that at least 96 different cards were issued, though Butler omitted to put his name on some of the highest numbered cards in the series.

Averys of Brighton published their own very similar real photographic cards, and almost certainly printed Butler's cards for him. Comparing the captions, the lower-case letter "g", for example, is shaped in the same distinctive way on the Butler cards as on Avery cards. However, the Butler cards are independently numbered and provide a far more detailed coverage of Withdean, Patcham and Preston than the standard Avery cards. The conclusion must be that Sydney Butler commissioned Averys to print the cards for him, using photographs that he supplied or that they took on his instructions.

Of broadly similar design are some cards of the same area marked "Butler, Preston" that have fully capitilised captions and no serial numbers (see Gallery). There must be some doubt as to whether these were printed forr Butler by Avery or some other firm.

A few cards of Withdean and Preston have been found that are marked "F. A. M." on the photographs, rather than "Butler, Preston". They seem to share the same numbering system as the standard Butler cards supposedly produced by Avery and have captions with the same idiosyncratic lettering. No postmarks have been reported. The identity of F.A.M. remains a mystery - possibly, he or she took the photographs that Butler used for his cards or bought the publication rights from Butler at some stage.

Very similar to the Butler cards are some sepia-toned real photographics of the Dyke Road area of Brighton, close to Withdean and Preston, that are labelled "E. S. Cox." These cards also seem to have been printed by Avery. Peter Booth (Withdean) reports that E. S. Cox was a confectioner at 85 Millers Road between Dyke Road and Preston village.

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