Arthur Harry Charles Corder


Henfield Windmill, said to date from about 1730 (1911 postmark)

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Arthur Corder became one of the leading Sussex postcard publishers of his generation, with an output of 2-3000 cards. John Robards has drawn up a catalogue of known cards (A. H. C. Corder, postcard publisher of Brighton, 1990, privately published) and written a detailed account of his life and business affairs ("A.H.C. Corder of Brighton", Picture Postcard Monthly, January 2000, No. 249, 18-20). Both sources have been consulted extensively in preparing the following notes.

Corder was born in 1868 at his parent's home at 14 Norfolk Road in Brighton. His father was Charles Joseph Corder and his mother Alice Corder née Walters. Charles and his brother, Frederick, helped their father (another Charles Corder) run his two drapery shops at 32 and 33 North Street, but, when their father died in 1869, neither brother wished to continue the business and so they sold up, acquiring sufficient capital to live comfortably without having to work full time. Frederick became a music teacher, while Charles did some accountancy and his wife Alice let out rooms as lodgings. In about 1876 Charles and Alice moved with their two children (Arthur and his younger sister Edith) from Norfolk Road to 42 Montpellier Road, and then in 1891 they moved again, to a large house at 77 Buckingham Road, near Brighton station.

Arthur Corder never married. After leaving school, he worked as a valuer for a firm of estate agents, but continued to live with his parents. By 1895 he was taking photographs as a hobby, and in 1904 he started to publish postcards, presumably to supplement his salary as a valuer. He may have been encouraged to publish by the Hove retailer H. J.Smith, who agreed to sell the cards in his shop. As his business expanded, Corder needed more space for developing and printing, and in 1907 he opened a workshop in a small terrace house at 36 Mount Zion Place, opposite St Nicholas Church, which he kept for many years. However, he continued to live with his parents at 77 Buckingham Road. The 1909 Electoral Register reveals that he had a second floor furnished room that he rented off his mother.

Corder seems to have been busiest publishing cards between 1908 and 1910, and after 1914 produced few new cards, concentrating on re-issues. In 1918 his parents fell ill and they both died within a few months. The Buckingham Road house was sold and Corder gave up his postcard business, presumably because he knew he was about to receive a large inheritance. He went to live in his house at Mount Zion Place until at least 1926, no doubt having first disposed of at least some of the photographic equipment. He retired as a valuer in the early 1930s, and in 1933 moved to a house in Moulsecoomb, where he lived until his death in 1953.

Corder's postcards are nearly all good quality real photographics, generally with a black and white, more rarely sepia finish. Most have white borders. The numbering system is complex and haphazard. The early cards are hard to identify as they are all anonymous; the captions appear to have been created using a hand-held printing set. In 1905, however, Corder began to handwrite his captions. He employed a distinctive backwards sloping script, often just capitals (some with decorative descenders), but sometimes both lower case and capitals. A few cards seem to have been titled by another hand. From 1906 Corder added a logo or monogram after the captions, apparently consisting of two superimposed letter Cs, which Robards suggests may indicate that he preferred to be called Charles Corder, after his father. A few Brighton cards without the logo are marked "C. C." in front of the serial number.

Some early Corder cards are labelled "Corder's Real Photo Series" in the stamp box or are marked on the back "Published by A.H.C. Corder, Brighton". Yet other cards have no label or logo, but can be recognised by the distinctive handwriting on the captions.

The 1904 and 1905 cards concentrated on Brighton and nearby villages such as Poynings and Rottingdean, but the 1906 cards ranged more widely including more distant places such as Henfield, Lewes, Ditchling, Bramber, Steyning and Alfriston. Corder may have made use of one of his earliest negatives when he issued a "Real Photo Series" card of Brighton's former Chain Pier, which had been washed away by the sea in December 1896.

Between 1908 and 1912 Corder issued a series of nearly 130 cards showing Brighton Library, Museum and Art Gallery. He also produced cards of the Aquarium and Pavilion that were sold to visitors. By 1911 his production of cards had declined significantly, though he introduced some Worthing views and also many new cards of Alfriston and the Cuckmere valley, which were sold in village shops and at the Litlington Tea Gardens. Some of his photographs of shepherds, flocks of grazing sheep and the hills around the Cuckmere valley are particularly delightful, and are now much sought after by collectors.

In 1911 some black and white collotype cards went on sale "Published by Corder & Maddock, Brighton". These were printed in Saxony. Presumably Corder supplied the photographs and Maddock took charge of the marketing. The rarity of the cards today suggests that they were poor sellers.

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