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.)


Type 1:

Small trade plate: name and address (42 London Street, Norwich) surmounted by Prince of Wales feathers.


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 15th September 1860.


Type 2:

Larger trade plate: Sawyer’s Drawing Room Portrait Gallery, 42 London Street, surmounted by lion, unicorn and royal arms.

This was in use by January 1862 and was still being used in September 1863.


Type 3:

46 London Street; ‘Sol fecit’, with Norwich badge (castle and lion) in a frame of trimmed branches.

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.


Type 4:

‘Solem certissima signa sequente’; Sawyer’s Italian Studios, Norwich and Yarmouth (with Norwich and Yarmouth arms and artist’s palette).


This design was in use between October 1865 and October 1867.



Type 5:

‘Solem certissima signa sequente’; Sawyer’s Italian Studio, with only Norwich address and arms.


This version was introduced in May 1867. It lasted until some time in 1868 or 1869.



Type 6:

‘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.


Type 7:

‘Solem certissima signa sequente’; ‘Italian Studios’ become plural again; addresses of Norwich, Yarmouth and Regent Street studios.


The earliest possible date appears to be August 1870 (coinciding with the first record of the Yarmouth studio to be discovered so far). The formation of the Sawyer and Bird partnership in early 1871 gives an end date. The Regent Street address is, however, normally associated with the partnership rather than with Sawyer alone. It is possible – judging from the ink colour on some examples – that the London address was a later overprinting, and that a Norwich/Yarmouth-only version of this design may exist. (This would not invalidate the suggested dating, though it might refine it.)



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