Patrick Pollak

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[WALLACE, Alfred Russel].
Two carte-de-visite portrait photographs by EDWARD SIMS, photographer, Tunbridge Wells. Was he related to the THOMAS SIMS who married Wallace's sister, Fanny, and who set up as a photographer in London ?


*Thomas Sims (floruit 1860s) had married Frances, Wallace's sister, in c.1851. He had been an early experimenter with the daguerreotype process and in 1847 began working with Fox Talbot's calotype technique. In 1852 he exhibited examples of his work at the first British photographic exhibition organised by the Society of Arts in London. He and Fanny shared a house at 44, Upper Albany Street, Regents Park, with Wallace, and established a photographic studio there c. 1852. Shortly afterwards he became involved in a legal dispute with Talbot. Refusing to pay Talbot for a license, an injunction was served forcing him to close his studios [see British Journal of Photography, June 13, 1930, pp. 353-355 - also Lacock Collection MS LA56.33]. After the Talbot v. Laroche case in 1854, against Talbot, Sims re-opened his studio in Regents Park, and in 1862 [see WALLACE My Life, v.I, p.385], moved it to Westbourne Grove, remaining in business in London until 1868. He then moved to Tunbridge Wells where he remained active as a professional photographer until his death in 1910. The National Portrait Gallery has a photograph of Alfred Russel Wallace taken by Sims in c. 1863-1866, hand-coloured in oils. Clearly the question now is to explain the presence of an Edward Sims, working as a photographer in Tunbridge Wells. Was this man, Thomas Sims under another name ? Or, a relative of Thomas Sims ? Or, coincidentally, an unrelated Sims ? My inclination is to choose the first option, namely that Thomas Sims moved to Tunbridge Wells and preferred to re-establish his business under a different banner.

Date Published:

Stock No. 57820

Price: 150.00