Sawyer’s carte mounts – a dating guide
This dating guide covers the period from Sawyer’s first production of cartes de visite to the beginning of the Sawyer and Bird partnership, and it has been made possible by the research of Claire Dulanty. In addition to following up the usual dating clues (studio addresses, mount style and design, costume of sitters, studio furnishings, negative serial numbers) she has made extensive use of newspaper advertisements and has taken into account the likely age of some identified sitters. I am grateful to her for making her findings available to this website.
(It is known that Sawyer used at least one other design – a variant of Type 6 – but it has not been possible to date this. It probably comes from the same period as Type 6, but nothing more precise can be suggested at this stage.)
Small trade plate: name and address (
This dates from the period 1860-1861. The earliest dated example is from 1861, but it is known (from an advertisement in The Norfolk Chronicle) that Sawyer was producing cartes as early as
Larger trade plate: Sawyer’s Drawing Room Portrait Gallery,
This was in use by January 1862 and was still being used in September 1863.
This style was current from October 1863 until October 1865. The studio was being advertised as ‘Sawyer’s Italian Studio’ during this period, but the word ‘Italian’ did not yet appear on the mounts.
‘Solem certissima signa sequente’; Sawyer’s Italian Studios,
This design was in use between October 1865 and October 1867.
‘Solem certissima signa sequente’; Sawyer’s Italian Studio, with only
This version was introduced in May 1867. It lasted until some time in 1868 or 1869.
‘Solem certissima signa sequente’; Sawyer’s Italian Studio – address only, no badge.
This design first appeared at some time in 1868 or 1869. It continued in use until the summer of 1870.
‘Solem certissima signa sequente’; ‘Italian Studios’ become plural again; addresses of
The earliest possible date appears to be August 1870 (coinciding with the first record of the
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