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E. Cox, Photographer, Taunton

E Cox Photographer Taunton Somerset

It is said that more photos are taken now in one day than in the entire history of photography 1800 – 1900. Well these were certainly the formative years and it is amazing how the technology has ( and will ) change over the years.

Camera technology is now driven partly by the improvements in mobile phones leading us ever forward in intuitive camera performance. Its easy to forget that few people had cameras in 1900 . People had to take their families to a local studio for their photos .One such studio is represented here in the studio of E.E. Cox who produced marvelous real photographic postcards of the Taunton area. Illustrated is a super “shop front “ postcard as we collectors call them. Few arrived in the “ family album “ as they were not particularly collected at the time of publication .Most folk in 1904 – 1912 swapped topographical cards with friends in other locations. These we call “ view cards “. Still around in huge quantities but limited in social history appeal.

Mr Cox was at 4 Albemarle Terrace now numbered as Station Road and situated between the Railway Inn and Albemarle Road. Directories list him at this address from 1906 to 1923. In 1927 the address was 65 Station Road so probably the same premises. Incidentally the 1951 directory lists this address as Jouvani, Ice cream merchant. The Curry Bazaar in the 1970’s which I am sure folk of my generation will remember. Cox recorded many local back streets and local events including the carnival from at least 1907 to 1927. Another of his postcards shows him with his BSA motorcycle and sidecar Y3393 which taxation records at the Heritage Centre show    was registered to him in May 1915.

The years between the wars saw the decline of photographic studios. Many people bought the Kodak Brownie Number Two which was introduced in 1901 and ran in production until 1935. In fact a variety of Brownies with their roll film were in production until the 1960’s .People could, at last, take their very own photographs and send the film off for developing and printing. There were eight photographic studios in Taunton in 1900 but this had reduced to four in 1950.

The latter really specialising in portraits and wedding photos and those remarkably wide images of all the children at school. Now its all about social media. The photograph has become so ubiquitous it has lost all sense of meaning. Snapchat and Facebook are the photo albums of today but how many of those images will still be around in another 100 years.

By Nick Chipchase

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