Sawyer & Bird


Products and prices in the mid-1870s



Geoff Caulton has supplied a Sawyer & Bird handbill that lists products, services and prices. Headed ‘Sawyer & Bird, Photographers and Photo-Dynamic Printers’, it gives their studio addresses as 87 Regent Street, London, 46 London Street, Norwich, and 182 King Street, Great Yarmouth. A date in the mid-1870s would seem likely.


Cartes de visite cost 3/6 (three shillings and sixpence) for taking the negative and supplying two proofs, and extra copies cost 10/- per dozen. Tinting was extra, at 2/6 per image, while colouring prices started at 5/-. Cabinet prints were 7/6 for negative and two proofs and 20/- per dozen thereafter. Tinting and colouring were around twice as expensive as for cartes. Vignetting was offered for both formats at no extra cost. Miniatures for brooches or lockets were 3/6 (two proofs), with copies at 1/- each, tinting at 2/6, and colouring ranging from 5/- to 42/-.


A range of larger prints was available:

Full size: 8x6 inches (12x10 mounted); 1 proof – 7/6; extra copies 3/-; tinting7/6; colouring from 21/-.

Extra size: 9½x7½ inches (14x12); 1 proof – 10/6; extra copies 4/6; tinting 15/-; colouring from 42/-.

Crown: 11x9 inches (20x18); 1 proof – 15; extra copies 6/-; tinting 20/-; colouring from 63/-.

Royal: 14½x11½ inches (23x19); 1 proof – 21/-; extra copies 7/6; tinting 30/-; colouring from 84/-.

Imperial: 20x16 inches (31x26); 1 proof – 42/-; extra copies 15/-; tinting 40/-; colouring from 100/-.

These prices referred not only to portraits from life but also to copies of oil paintings, drawings and photographs not exceeding the size of the originals.


Enlargements, from cabinet size upward, could be made from ‘Portraits on Glass, daguerreotypes, Miniatures, or any small Drawing or Work of Art’. Cabinet print enlargements cost 8/6 for the first proof, 2/- per extra copy, 5/- for tinting and 10/6 or more for colouring. The equivalent prices for imperial prints were 45/-, 15/-, 40/- and 100/-. Potential customers were warned: ‘Enlargements, except when made from very perfect negatives, are rarely presentable as photographs, but they can be worked up either in Black and White or Colour into charming pictures, preserving all the likeness of the original.’


Life-size enlargements on canvas were also offered. ‘Sawyer & Bird make this kind of Portrait a speciality. Their enlargements are made by a process which secures absolute accuracy and freedom from distortion, and from any small picture up to life size – they are coloured in oils by an artist of great experience, and are valuable not only as being faithful reproductions of the original likeness, but also as well executed works of art,’ The prices were 7 guineas (£7.35) for head size, 10 guineas for three-quarter size, 15 guineas for ‘Kit Kat’, and 20 guineas for small half-length.


They undertook to photograph ‘Views of Buildings, Landscapes, Halls, Churches, &c., Wedding Groups, Architectural Photographs for Law and Parliamentary purposes’, as well as ‘Machinery, Works of Art, Artists’ Drawings, &c’. In addition, they had for sale: ‘A Splendid Collection of Views from Rome, Switzerland, Italy, Holy Land, Egypt, Scotland, England. Photographs of the Finest Works from the Vatican, the Uffizj (sic) Gallery, the Louvre. Portraits of Celebrities, including the principal scientific men of the day.’


Business hours were from ten to four, and customers were reminded that a previous engagement was necessary for portraiture.




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