Vintage: glass plate photography

Written by Nasir Hamid on April 12th, 2012

This is the first blog post I’ve made that doesn’t feature any of my own photography and to be honest I don’t know who the original photographer is. All I can tell you is that a box full of these glass plate negatives was on sale at a local charity shop here in Oxford and last week they were purchased by a gentleman visiting from the U.S. – he has been very generous to allow me to borrow them so that I can make some contact prints. I only borrowed them earlier today so I was keen to make some scans to see exactly what was on them.

All of the images in the box are of window displays for a tobacconist called Lewis. The name Lewis is handwritten in pencil on the outside of the box lid and some of the plates have reference numbers written along the edge as well as location information. One of them has Luton written on it. The measure approximately 6.5 inches x 8.5 inches and I can only assume that the original photographer was photographing these shops as a commercial job, commissioned by Lewis to do so or it was a personal project. It makes me a little sad to think of all of the work that went into making these images however many decades ago and they end up being donated to a charity shop.

Many thanks to Ken for the loan of these glass plates. I really enjoyed scanning these and I look forward to making some contact prints from them in the coming weeks.

The lid of the box the glass plates were in

Shot 1

Shot 2. The exposure time for this shot must have been quite slow because there is motion blur from the men inside the shop

Shot 3

Shot 4

Shot 5

To show how detailed these images are, here's a crop of a small part of this image that's less than half the full resolution of my scanner


4 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mike Sweeney says:

    Very cool images. A bit different than the last time I was in Oxford 🙂

  2. Gerard says:

    Impressive level of detail there…

  3. Lyn says:

    I worked for Lewis’s in the 66 to 70’s and my office was in Throgmorton Street, London. If you have one of thos shop I would love to buy it

    • Nasir Hamid says:

      Small world. I’m glad you found these pictures, Lyn. I’m afraid these glass plates belong to someone else, I borrowed them for a short time to scan some because I was interested in what the pictures were of. The gentleman that bought the box of glass plates took them back home to the US.

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