Brighton Postcard Photographers
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Brighton & Hove Postcard Photographers 1902-1920
Rudolph Janeck - Kansas Gallery (Henri Gascon) - Davis Kontili
Rudolph Albert Wessel Janeck was born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, in 1885, the son of Minnie (Mary) and William Henry Wessels Janeck. [The birth of Rudolph Albert Wessel was registered in Wolverhampton during the 2nd Quarter of 1885]. William Wessel Janeck, Rudolph's father, was born William Wessels (Wessel) in New York, USA, around 1856, the son of Mrs Mary Ann (Marianne) Wessels [formerly Mary Ann Hinton].
Mary Ann Hinton, Rudolph's grandmother, was born in Uley, Gloucestershire around 1832, the daughter of Anne Catherine Hinton (born c1805, Dursley, Gloucestershire). In the early 1850s, Mary Ann Hinton had married a Mr Wessels and settled in the United States, where she gave birth to two children - a daughter named Marie Emilie (Emily) Wessel(s) who was born in New York, USA, around 1854 and William Henry Wessel(s) who was born at 22nd Street Broadway, New York, USA, around 1856. After Mrs Mary Ann Wessels' husband died sometime in the late 1850s, she returned to England with her two young children and went to live with her widowed mother at Lower Swainswick, near Bath, Somerset.
The 1861 census records Mrs Mary Ann Wessels, a twenty-nine year old widow and her two American-born children, nine year old Emily and six year old William, residing at Milbrook Cottage, Lower Swainswick with her fifty-six year old mother, Mrs Ann Catherine Hinton, described on the census return as a "Landed Proprietor". Staying at Mrs Hinton's cottage at the time of the 1861 census was a twenty-eight year old German musician named Ferdinand Albert Janeck (born c1832, Prussia, Germany). A relationship developed between the recently widowed mother of two and the young music teacher. In 1864, Mary Ann Wessels (who had reverted to her maiden name of Hinton) married Ferdinand Albert Janeck. [The marriage of Mary Ann Hinton and Clements Rudolph Ferdinand Albert Janeck was registered in Bath, Somerset, during the 3rd Quarter of 1864].
After her marriage to Ferdinand Albert Janeck , Mary Ann's two children took on the surname of their step father, but their legal surname remained as Wessel or Wessels. Years later, when William Wessel had married and fathered children of his own, he again adopted the surname of Janeck and his children, too, often used the surname of their German grandfather. When William Wessel became a professional photographer in the 1880s, he traded under the name of "William Janeck" and when his eldest son Rudolph Wessel followed him into the profession, his photographs carried the name of "Rudolph Janeck".
When the 1871 census was taken, Ferdinand Albert Janeck, his wife Marianne (Mary Anne), and his two step children, seventeen year old Marie Emilie (Emily) Janeck and fifteen year old Willie Janeck, together with his seventy year old mother-in-law Mrs Ann Catherine Hinton, were recorded at 2 Stanley Place, Walcot, Bath, Somerset.
William Janeck the Photographer
In the 1870s, Ferdinand Janeck's stepson William Wessels Janeck was beginning to take a strong interest in photography. In 1874, William Janeck, then an amateur photographer in his teens, wrote to The British Journal of Photography to comment on an article about outdoor photography and offered the readers of the journal some technical advice on the treatment of photographic plates.
William Wessel Janeck eventually moved to the West Midlands where he worked as a carpenter and a photographer. Sometime in the early 1880s, William Wessel Janeck married a London-born woman name Minnie or Mary (born c1854, London). A daughter named Ethel Grace Wessel was born in the Aston district of Warwickshire early in 1883. William Wessel Janeck then moved on to Wolverhampton, where Ethel Grace Wessel died early in 1885 at the age of two. [The death of Ethel Grace Wessel Janeck was registered in Wolverhampton during the 1st Quarter of 1885]. William and Minnie (Mary) Wessel went on to produce three sons - Rudolph Albert Wessel, who was born in Wolverhampton during the 2nd Quarter of 1885, Ernest Wessel, whose birth was registered in Wolverhampton under the name of Claude Ernest Gustave Wessel during the 4th Quarter of 1886, and Charles Bertram Wessel who arrived during the 3rd Quarter of 1888. Although registered under their father's legal surname of Wessel(s), all three sons generally went under the name of Janeck during their teenage years.
When the 1891 census was taken, William Janeck was occupying two buildings in Wolverhampton's Lord Street. William and Mary (Minnie) Janeck were residing at 125 & 126 Lord Street, Wolverhampton, together with two of their sons, six year old Rudolph and three year old Charles. (There is no sign of the couple's middle child, four year old Claude Ernest Janeck, who was probably staying with relatives. Rudolph Wessel Janeck is entered on the census return as "Robert Janeck"). According to the 1891 census return, William Janeck and his family lived at 126 Lord Street and the adjoining building at 125 Lord Street, Wolverhampton was used by William Wessel Janeck as a photographic studio. William Wessels is entered on the census return as "William Janeck", a thirty-six year old "Photographic Artist". William Janeck is recorded at 125 Lord Street, while Mary and their children are listed at No.126 Lord Street. The Wolverhampton Red Book and Directory of 1892, records W. Janeck as a photographer in Lord Street, Wolverhampton, but does not give the number of the building.
In 1901, William Wessel Janeck was residing at 36 Drayton Green, Ealing, Middlesex, with his wife and three sons. Forty-five year old William Wessels Janeck was working as a "Master Carpenter" at a local theatre (possibly at the recently opened Ealing Theatre on Ealing Broadway). William's eldest son, fifteen year old Rudolph Janeck was employed as a "call boy" at the theatre. Rudolph's two younger brothers, thirteen year old Ernest Janeck and eleven year old Charles Janeck are listed as juveniles. No occupation is given for Mrs Minnie Janeck, William Janeck's 47 year old wife.
Rudolph Janeck - Professional Photographer in Brighton and Sussex
Although, he was christened Rudolph Albert Wessel, William Wessel Janeck's eldest son generally went under the name of Rudolph Janeck. However, Wessel was Rudolph's legal surname and when he married Florence May Gorringe Long in the Hampshire district of South Stoneham during the 2nd Quarter of 1909, his name was entered in the Register of Marriages as "Rudolphe Albert Wessel". Rudolph's bride Florence May Gorringe Long was the daughter of Harriet Martha Gorringe and Frank Long.
As the son of a professional photographer, it was natural for Rudolph Wessel Janeck to become interested in photography and to receive some instruction in the use of a camera from his father William Wessel Janeck. When Rudolph Janeck was in his early twenties he started to take photographs in the county of Sussex. Between 1908 and 1910, Rudolph Janeck was touring the villages and towns north of Brighton with his camera. A number of real photographic postcards showing scenes in and around the West Sussex village of Henfield were produced by Rudolph Janeck in 1908. One picture postcard by Rudolph Janeck features a photograph of a group of girls celebrating May Day at Henfield in 1908. Rudolph Janeck evidently visited other villages in the area, as I have in my own photograph collection a real photographic card, marked "R. JANECK, PHOTOGRAPHER, BRIGHTON", which shows St James's Church in Ashurst, a village about 2 miles west of Henfield. Another photograph by Rudolph Janeck, which depicts a steam trawler called the "Game Cock" stranded on a beach in Seaford Bay, can be dated to September 1908. Other photographs by Rudolph Janeck depict scenes in Brighton itself and several are formal group photographs taken on location in the seaside town. For instance, Rendel Williams of the Sussex Postcards Info website has a picture postcard by Rudolph Janeck, featuring a group of 18 workers in a formal pose at Brighton Railway Station.
In local trade directories published in 1909 and 1910, Rudolph Janeck is listed as a photographer at No. 2 Crescent Road, Brighton, but it appears that Janeck did not have a portrait studio at this address and, during his stay in Brighton, he was working primarily as an "outdoor photographer", travelling around the area with his camera, offering to take photographs on the spot. The few portraits by Rudolph Janeck that do survive depict subjects in their normal surroundings. (See the photographic portrait of the boy holding a ball illustrated on the right). Rendel Williams has in his collection of Janeck postcards a portrait of a young woman standing in the doorway of her home and an impromptu shot of three cloth-capped men posing with their bicycles on a country road. Rudolph Janeck is also known to have photographed churches and other buildings in the Sussex area. Rudolph Janeck's photographic cards were embossed with an oval-shaped trade mark with the simple legend "R. Janeck, Photographer, Brighton". When Kelly's Directory of Brighton, Hove and Preston was published in 1911, R. A. Janeck is listed in the Brighton Street Directory as a photographer at 38 Crescent Road, Brighton, but there is no sign of Rudolph Janeck in the census of Brighton carried out on 2nd April 1911. Joan Balch, who has a family connection with the photographer, informs me that sometime after 1911, Rudolph Janeck reverted to his previous surname of Wessel or Wessell.
During their stay in Brighton, Rudolph Janeck (Wessel) and his wife Florence produced two children - Albert William (Bill) Wessel who was born in Brighton early in 1910 and Grace Wessel who was born in Brighton in 1911. Joan Balch recalls that Rudolph Janeck (Wessell) created watercolour paintings and might have worked as a stage or scene painter for a theatre at some point in his working career. After leaving Brighton, Rudolph Wessel (Janeck) settled in Lambeth, South London, where two more children were born - Irene Wessel in 1913 and Doris Wessel in 1916.
[ABOVE] Ferdinand Albert Janeck listed as a "professor of pianoforte" at Laurel Cottage, Lower Swainswick, Bath, in the Post Office Bath Directory published by William Lewis in 1864. The year this listing appeared, Ferdinand Albert Janeck married the mother of William Wessels, Rudolph Janeck's father. After Ferdinand Janeck married Mrs Mary Ann Wessels, her son William generally went under the name of William Janeck. William Wessel Janeck's son, Rudolph Wessel (Rudolph Janeck), also adopted his grandfather's surname when he became a professional photographer around 1908.
[ABOVE] William Wessel Janeck, the father of Rudolph Wessel Janeck, listed as a professional photographer in Lord Street, Wolverhampton, in The Wolverhampton Red Book and Directory published in 1892.
[ABOVE] The trade plate of Brighton photographer Rudolph Janeck (c1908). The oval trademark, which reads simply "R. JANECK- PHOTOGRAPHER-BRIGHTON" was impressed in the wide border of a postcard view of a West Sussex church. [See the postcard of Ashurst Church below left].
[ABOVE] A postcard portrait of a boy standing in a garden and holding a ball, photographed by Rudolph Janeck (c1910). This real photographic card is impressed "R. JANECK, BRIGHTON" in the bottom right-hand corner.
[ABOVE] Rudolph Janeck recorded as a professional photographer at 2 Crescent Road, Brighton in the Trades Section of Kelly's Directory of Sussex, compiled during 1908 and published in 1909.
|[ABOVE] A detail from Rudolph Janeck's photograph of Ashurst Church, probably taken on his tour of West Sussex villages in 1908. During his tour, Janeck took photographs of picturesque buildings.||[ABOVE] A real photographic postcard of Ashurst Church, which was probably produced by Rudolph Janeck during his tour of West Sussex villages in 1908. The postcard is impressed with an oval trademark, which reads simply "R. JANECK- PHOTOGRAPHER-BRIGHTON".|
Rendel Williams' Gallery of Picture Postcards by Rudolph Janeck of Brighton
|Rendel Williams has created an excellent website entitled Sussex Postcards. Info which focuses on picture postcards produced in Sussex. To view a selection of 'real photo' picture postcards by Rudolph Janeck of Brighton as featured in a gallery on Rendel Williams' Sussex Postcards. Info website, click on the link below:|
Ferdinand Albert Janeck - Rudolph Janeck's Musical Grandfather
Ferdinand Albert Janeck (born c1832, Prussia, Germany), the grandfather of the Brighton photographer Rudolph Janeck, was a pianist and composer who earned his living from teaching music. Ferdinand Janeck was performing piano recitals in England and the Channel Islands during the late 1850s. At the time of the 1861 census, Ferdinand Janeck was a guest at the home of Mrs Ann Catherine Hinton at Milbrook Cottage, Lower Swainswick, near Bath in Somerset. Also staying at Milbrook Cottage was Mrs Hinton's daughter Mrs Mary Ann Wessels, a twenty-nine year old widow and her two American-born children, nine year old Emily and six year old William. A relationship developed between Ferdinand Janeck and the recently widowed mother of two and, in 1864, Mrs Mary Ann Wessels (also known as Mary Ann Hinton) married the young music teacher.[The marriage of Mary Ann Hinton and Clements Rudolph Ferdinand Albert Janeck was registered in Bath, Somerset, during the 3rd Quarter of 1864].
The Post Office Directory of Bath published in 1864 lists Ferdinand A. Janeck as a "professor of pianoforte" at Laurel cottage, Lower Swainswick, Bath. The musical press of the time reviewed Ferdinand Janeck's keyboard performances and during the 1860s, Janek composed and published a number of piano pieces [ e.g. Un Moment de Recreation, romance pour Piano (1860); L'Esperance, valse de salon pour Piano (1861); Jugend Freuden, polka (1862)].
In the mid 1870s, Ferdinand Albert Janeck was residing in a respectable area of Bath. The Post Office Directory of Bath published for the years 1876 and 1877, records Herr F. A. Janeck as a "Professor of Music" at 7 Camden Place, Bath. The same directory lists Herr F. A. Janeck as the church organist at the Laura Episcopal Chapel, Henrietta Street, Bath.
After a couple of sojourns in Prussia (Germany), Ferdinand Albert Janeck and Mary Ann (Marianne) set up home in the Midlands area of England. [ In the 1891 census, Ferdinand Janeck is shown living with a daughter named Amie Janeck who was apparently born in Germany around 1866; another daughter named Annie or Kinnie Janeck had been born in Prussia (Germany) in 1876]. In the 1880s, Ferdinand Janeck and his family were living in the Birmingham area. A daughter named Violet Janeck was born in the Solihull district of Birmingham in 1880. [The birth of Violet Janeck was registered in the district of Solihull during the 2nd Quarter of 1880].The 1891 census records Ferdinand A. Janeck, his wife Marie (aka as Mary Ann or Marianne) and their two daughters Annie and Daisy residing in Yardley, Worcestershire, near Birmingham. The Janeck family were still living in Yardley when Ferdinand Janeck's wife Mary Ann (Marianne) Janeck died in 1899. [The death of Marianne Janeck was registered in the district of Solihull during the 1st Quarter of 1899]. The 1901 census records Ferdinand A. Janeck and his two daughters, Violet and Annie, living at 'Belle View', Broad Road, Yardley, Worcestershire. On the 1901 census return, Ferdinand A. Janeck is described as a 68 year old widower working as a "Professor of Music". Annie Janeck (transcribed as "Kinnie Janeck" on the 1901 census index) is entered on the census return as a twenty-five year old "Teacher of Music". Kinnie (Annie) Janeck's place of birth is given as Prussia, Germany. Ferdinand Janeck's youngest daughter Violet Janeck is listed as a juvenile and her place of birth is given as Birmingham, Warwickshire.
Sometime after 1907, Ferdinand Albert Janeck and his daughter Aimee Marie took up residence in Brighton. A street directory compiled in 1910, lists Ferdinand Janeck as a "Professor of Music" at 47 Hollingbury Road, Brighton, but he was now styling himself as Ferdinand von Janeck. The 1911 census records Ferdinand Albert von Janeck as a "Professor of Music" at 47 Hollingbury Road, Preston, Brighton. The census enumerator describes the Head of Household as a seventy-two year old widower from Germany. On the census return, Janeck's thirty-nine year old daughter, Miss Aimee Marie von Janeck is described as Professor Janeck's "Housekeeper" and her place of birth is given as Bath, Somerset.
Ferdinand Albert Janeck died in the Preston area of Brighton in 1914 at the age of 82. [The death of Ferdinand Albert Von Janeck was registered in the Sussex district of Steyning during the 2nd Quarter of 1914].
Other Members of the Janeck and Wessell Families
|William Henry Wessell
Janeck (born c1856, New York)
William Henry Wessell (Wessels) Janeck, Rudolph Janeck's father, was born at 22nd Street Broadway, New York, USA, around 1856. In the 1880s and 1890s, William Wessell Janeck was working as a photographic artist in Wolverhampton, however, by the early 1900s he was employed as a "Master Carpenter" at a theatre in Ealing, Middlesex. At the time of the 1911 census, William Henry Wessell Janeck was living at 37 Sutton Street, York Road, Lambeth, South East London. On the census return, W. H. Janeck is described as a "Stage Manager and Master Carpenter". William Janeck gives his age as 49, yet he was really in his mid-fifties. A middle-aged widower, William Henry Wessell Janeck was living alone at his home in Lambeth. William Henry Wessell Janeck died in Lambeth in 1911. William Janeck's death was registered under his legal name of William Henry Wessell. [The death of William Henry Wessell was registered in the Lambeth district of London during the 3rd Quarter of 1929, and his age at death is recorded as 74, which is consistent with a birth date of 1856].
Charles Bertram Janeck (1888-1915)
At the time of the 1911 census, Ferdinand Janeck's grandson, Charles Bertram Wessell Janeck (born 1888, Wolverhampton, Staffs), the youngest son of William Wessell, Professor Janeck's stepson, was boarding at the home of Mrs Ellen Mercer in the Preston district of Brighton. It is thought that Charles Bertram Janeck also worked as a photographer in the Brighton area around 1910, but the census return for Mrs Ellen Mercer's household at 31 Coombe Terrace, Preston, Brighton, describes her boarder as a twenty-three year old "barman". The census enumerator has entered Charles Janeck's place of birth as Birmingham rather than Wolverhampton where Charles's birth was registered.
Charles Bertram Janeck did remain long at Mrs Mercer's home in Coombe Terrace, Brighton. A few months after the census was taken in April 1911, Charles Bertram Janeck married Levina Macro, a nineteen year old girl who originated from Norfolk. Levina (Lavinia) Macro was born at Little Fransham, Norfolk, in 1891, the daughter of Keziah Ellender and William Macro, a farm labourer in Croxton, Norfolk. [The birth of Lavinia Macro was registered in the Mitford district of Norfolk during the 4th Quarter of 1891]. Levina Macro had moved from Norfolk to Sussex to live with her married sister Mrs Maud Kimbrey, who was residing with her husband in the Preston district of Brighton. Charles Bertram Janeck married Levina Macro in the Preston district of Brighton during the 2nd Quarter of 1911. At the time of her marriage to Charles B. Janeck, Levina was expecting a child. A daughter named Constance E. Janeck was born in Brighton during the 3rd Quarter of 1911.
After the birth of their first child, Levina and Charles Janeck moved to the young bride's home county of Norfolk. A second daughter, Kathleen M. Janeck was born in the Downham district of Norfolk during the first quarter of 1913. A third child, a son named Frederick Charles Janeck was born in Norfolk in 1915. [The birth of Frederick Charles Janeck was registered in the Downham district of Norfolk during the 3rd quarter of 1915]. Charles Janeck probably never set eyes on his newborn son. At the outbreak of the First World War, Charles Bertram Janeck enlisted in the 7th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment and was sent to the Western Front. Corporal Charles Bertram Janeck died in France on 14th October 1915 at the age of 27. [The grave of Corporal C. B. Janek of the 7th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, can be found at plot I.G. 42 in the Chocques Military Cemetery in Northern France].
Following the death of her husband Mrs Levina Janeck and her three young children moved to Glamorganshire in South Wales. Mrs Levina Janeck died in the South Wales district of Pontypridd in 1925 at the age of 34. In the 1930s, the descendants of Charles Bertram Janeck were scattered across England. Kathleen Janeck (born 1913, Norfolk) married William J. Follows in the South London borough of Southwark in 1933. When Constance E. Janeck (born 1911, Brighton) married Harry Mayes in 1936, she was living in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The wedding of Frederick Charles Janeck took place in the Medway district of Kent in 1937.
Ernest Janeck (aka Claude Ernest Gustave Wessel)
Claude Ernest Gustave Wessel, the second eldest son of William Wessel Janeck was born in the West Midlands town of Wolverhampton in 1886. When the census was taken on 2nd April 1911, Claude Ernest Wessel Janeck, who preferred to be known as Ernest Wessell in adult life, was recorded at a Church Army Lodging House in the Marylebone district of Central London. Ernest Claude Gustave Wessell is listed as one of the many lodgers at The Russell Gurney Temperance Hotel & Lodging Home for Men run by the Church Army at 134 & 136 Seymour Place, Marylebone, London. On the census return for this institution Ernest Claude Gustave Wessell is described as an unmarried man of 27 (23) working as an "Upholsterer".
[ABOVE] A listing of New York tradesmen with the surname of Wessel, Wessell, Wessells and Wessels, which was published in the 1856 edition of Trow's New York City Directory. The identity of the father of William Henry Wessell (Wessels) Janeck has not yet been established., but his name might appear amongst this list of twenty tradesmen who were based in New York City in 1856, the year of William Henry Wessell (Wessels) Janeck's birth.
[ABOVE] William Wessels listed as a Fire Warden in the 1853 edition of John Hardy's Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York. Could William Wessels of 1026 Broadway be the father of William Henry Wessell (Wessels) Janeck? William Wessell Janeck was born at 22nd Street Broadway, New York, USA, around 1856.
[ABOVE] Chocques Military Cemetery in northern France, photographed by Olivier Bayart in 2008. This military cemetery is the final resting place of Charles Bertram Wessell Janeck, the youngest son of William Wessell Janeck (c1856-1929). A casualty of the First World War, Corporal Charles Bertram Janeck of the 7th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, died on the Western Front in France on 14th October 1915 at the age of 27.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS, SOURCES & REFERENCES FOR THE SECTION ON RUDOLPH JANECK
of picture postcards produced by Rudolph Janeck appears on the
Sussex Postcards Info website created by
Williams. I am
Joan Balch of Toronto, Canada, for
providing some information about Rudolph Janeck's life after he left
Brighton around 1911. Joan Balch has a family connection with
Rudolph Janeck (Wessel) through Rudolph's marriage to a relative.
Toovey's Antique & Fine Art Auctioneers of Washington, West Sussex, provided details of picture postcards produced by Rudolph Janeck, sold at auction on 19th May 2009 viz. "A collection of 26 postcards of Henfield, Sussex, including a printed postcard titled 'Henfield Fire Brigade' and photographic postcards titled 'Henfield Common', 'Broadmere Common', 'The Windmill' and 'Mayday, Henfield, 1908', blind-stamped 'R. Janeck, Brighton'." [Lot 3011, May 2009,]
Extract from the text of a talk entitled "Postcards of Henfield" delivered by Alan Barwick of the Henfield History Group on 13th March 2005: "Another Brighton photographer, R. Janeck, produced cards of Henfield during the 1908/10 period. These featured May Day celebrations in 1908 and 1910, and a number of uncaptioned cards of properties and people".
Leads on the Janeck/ Wessel Family History were provided by Freda Janeck-Weidmann, the daughter of Frederick Charles Janeck, son of Levina Macro and Charles Bertram Janeck, the youngest son of William Henry Wessels Janeck and the younger brother of Rudolph Janeck. The following noticeboard messages were posted by Freda Janeck-Weidmann: (1) "I am trying to trace my great grandfather William Henry Wessels Janeck (born New York c1857) who was photographer. The Janeck Family were musical."(2) " I am searching for ? WESSELS (place of birth & year unknown) the husband of Mary Ann HINTON, born Gloucester England aboutt 1835.He was father to Emily Wessels & William Henry Wessels both born in the 1850s in New York. Mary Ann was widowed & returned to England where she married Ferdinand Albert JANECK (born 1833 Prussia) in 1864 at Bath. Any information much appreciated."
PRIMARY SOURCES: UK Census returns (1861,1871, 1891, 1901, 1911); Street & trade Directories: Post Office Bath Directory(1864);The Post Office Directory of Bath (1876 -1877); Kelly's Directory of Sussex (1909); Pike's Directory of Brighton.(1910); Kelly's Directory of Brighton, Hove and Preston (1911). Newspapers & Journals: The Musical Times (1st March 1859);
|The Kansas Gallery - A photographic portrait studio owned by Henri Gascon (1869-1942)|
|The Kansas Gallery at
45 Grand Parade, Brighton, which was in business for a couple of years between
1905 and 1907, was run by a photographer named Henri Gascon, who had
previously operated photographic studios in the West Midlands.
Henri Charles Membrey Gascon (1869-1942)
Henri Charles Membrey Gascon was born in 1869, apparently in London. Although on census returns Henri Gascon gives his country of origin as England, his name suggests that his father was French or possibly from the Channel Islands.
In 1893, Henri Gascon was in residing in the Staffordshire town of Wolverhampton. During the 3rd quarter of 1893, Henri Membrey Gascon married Ellen ("Nellie") Cecelia Brennan in the district of Wolverhampton. The couple's first child Dorothy Helena Gascon was born in Wolverhampton the following year. [The birth of Dorothy Helena Gascon was registered in Wolverhampton during the 3rd Quarter of 1894]. (The Gascon family may have been in Liverpool at the end of 1895 - the birth and death of a child named Charles Gascon was registered in Liverpool during the final quarter of 1895 ).
By 1896, Henri Gascon was in Walsall, a market town situated 6 miles east of Wolverhampton. Henri Gascon's photographic studio at Rembrandt House, Wednesbury Road, Walsall is listed in the 1896 edition of Kelly's Directory of Staffordshire. Henri Gascon's branch studio at 284 High Street, West Bromwich is also listed in the 1896 Directory. At this time, Henri Gascon and his family were residing in Walsall. A son, named Lucian Gascon, was born in Walsall during the First Quarter of 1896, but, sadly, died soon afterwards. A second son was born in Walsall, during the 3rd Quarter of 1897. This boy was registered at birth under the name of Henri Lucian Gascon, but he was generally referred to as Lucien Henry Gascon, to distinguish him from his father Henri Gascon. Another son, Charles Lionel Gascon, was born in Walsall during the First Quarter of 1899. A daughter, known as Mary Helen or Helen Mary, was born in the Staffordshire market town around 1900.
Although Henri Gascon and his family were residing in Walsall during the period 1896-1900, he was also running branch studios in Bilston, Birmingham, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton during the late 1890s.
After 1900, Henri Gascon was operating as a photographer in the South of England. (A child named Annie Gascon was born in London in 1903, but girl might be from a different family). In 1903, Henri Gascon was living and working in Canterbury, Kent. Henri Gascon is listed as a photographer at 28 St Peter's Street, Canterbury in Kelly's Directory of Kent, published in1903. During their stay in Canterbury, Nellie Gascon gave birth to yet another child, but the baby girl, named Agnes Idalia Gascon, died in Canterbury towards the end of 1903, aged one year.
Henri Gascon in Brighton
Henri Gascon relocated to Brighton around 1904. Henri Gascon was listed as a photographer at No. 4 Richmond Terrace, Brighton in the 1905 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex. Two Gascon children were born in the Sussex seaside town: Gladys Mary Gascon, whose birth was registered in Brighton during the 2nd Quarter of 1904, and Ralph Leslie Gascon who was born at the beginning of 1906. [The birth of Ralph Leslie Gascon was registered in Brighton during the First Quarter of 1906].
Around 1906, Henri Gascon opened a photographic portrait studio, which he called "The Kansas Gallery", at 45 Grand Parade, Brighton. This photographic studio specialised in the recently introduced photographic postcard format rather than the carte-de-visite portraits previously produced by Henri Gascon.
Henri Gascon and Family in the United States
By the end of 1907, Henri Gascon had emigrated to the USA. A daughter named Audrey Gascon was born in Kansas around 1909 and Henri and Nellie Gascon with six of their children are listed in the 1910 census for Rosedale City, Kansas. By January 1920, the Gascons were living in Kansas City, Missouri. The American census returns completed in 1910 and 1920 show that Henri Gascon continued his career as a photographer in the USA. The 1910 census return describes Henry Gascon as a "Photographer" with his "own shop" and working on his "own account" in Rosedale City, Kansas. The 1910 census also notes that Henri Gascon and his family emigrated to the United States in 1907. The census completed in January 1920 records Henri Gascon as "Photographer (Employer)" with his own studio in Kansas City, Missouri. Henri Gascon's two sons Lucien Henry Gascon and Charles Lionel Gascon, were both employed as photographers in their father's studio.
Lucian Henri Gascon (born 1896, Wolverhampton), Henri Gascon's eldest surviving son, married in Leavenworth, Kansas in 1921 and later worked as an "Express Messenger" for Wells Fargo. Lucien Henry Gascon eventually settled in Salina, Kansas, where in 1936 he was granted American citizenship [ Naturalization Certificate No. 3796288 was issued on 14th March 1936].
Gascon worked as a stenographer for an insurance company before taking
up employment in a U.S. Government department. Dorothy Gascon married
Archibald Shipe, a
Henri Gascon died in the United States in 1942 in his early seventies. Henri Gascon (1869-1942) was laid to rest at the St Joseph Cemetery, Shawnee, Johnson County, Kansas.
[ABOVE] The trade plate of Henri Gascon Limited taken from the reverse of a carte-de-visite portrait probably produced at Gascon's branch studio in Bilston, around 1899.
[ABOVE] A postcard portrait of Nancy Brooks, photographed in 1907 at The Kansas Gallery, 45 Grand Parade, Brighton. The reverse of this real photographic picture postcard carries the inscription "Your Sincere Friend Nancy Brooks, 1907". The Kansas Gallery photographic studio was run by photographer Henri Gascon between 1906 and 1907.
[ABOVE] Details of Henri Gascon's Kansas Gallery rubber-stamped on the reverse of the postcard portrait of Nancy Brooks illustrated above.
[ABOVE] A Registration Card for Henri Gascon's eldest son Lucien Henry Gascon (born 1896, Wolverhampton), produced when he was working as a messenger for the Wells Fargo Express Company in Kansas City, Missouri. Lucien Gascon gives his father's place of birth as "London, England".
Henri Gascon's Photographic Studios in England
|The Victoria Photographic Co||44 Waterloo Road South, Wolverhampton||
|Henri Gascon||Rembrandt House, Wednesbury Road, Walsall||
|Rembrandt House, 61 Bradford Street, Walsall||
|284 High Street, West Bromwich||
|41 Darlington Street, Wolverhampton||
|49 Queen Street, Wolverhampton||
|197 Bristol Street, Birmingham||
|Henri Gascon Ltd||98 Wellington Road, Bilston||
|Henri Gascon||28 St Peter's Street, Canterbury||
|Henri Gascon||4 Richmond Terrace, Brighton||
|The Kansas Gallery||45 Grand Parade, Brighton||
Carte-de-visite Portraits taken at Henri Gascon's Photographic Studios in the West Midlands
|[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young woman photographed at one of the branch studios of Henri Gascon (c1896). Branches in Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.||[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young child photographed at one of the branch studios of Henri Gascon (c1897). Branches in Walsall, West Bromwich, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.||[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a baby photographed at one of the branch studios of Henri Gascon (c1899). Branches in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Bilston.||[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a woman photographed at one of the branch studios of Henri Gascon (c1902). Branches in Walsall and Wolverhampton.|
|[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young woman photographed at one of the branch studios of Henri Gascon (c1899). Branches in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Bilston.||[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young woman photographed at one of the branch studios of Henri Gascon (c1899). Branches in Walsall, Bilston and Wolverhampton||[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of two young children photographed at one of the branch studios of Henri Gascon (c1897). Branches in Walsall, West Bromwich, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.||[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young woman photographed at one of the branch studios of Henri Gascon (c1897). Branches in Walsall, West Bromwich, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.|
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS & SOURCES FOR THE SECTION ON HENRI GASCON
|I am grateful to Margaret Sheldon Bellanger of Arizona who discovered that Henri Gascon emigrated to the United States around 1907 and located Henri Gascon and his family in the U.S. census returns of 1910 and 1920. Margaret Sheldon Bellanger is related to another of West Midlands photographer, James Mills (born 1832, Walsall, Staffordshire) who operated a photographic studio in Bath Street, Walsall between 1865 and 1872. Thanks also to Frank Sharman who has his own website devoted to Wolverhampton History and has produced a survey of photographers active in Wolverhampton during Victorian times. Further information about the Gascon Family in the United States after 1907 was provided by Aimee Beatty, who is connected by marriage to the descendants of Dorothy Helena Gascon, Henri Gascon's eldest daughter. I am also grateful to Kathy McCullough who transcribed Lucien Henry Gascon's Petition for American Naturalization.|
|Davis Kontili - Photographer at the Cinema Studio, 44 North Street, Brighton from 1919-1921|
[ABOVE] A poster for Professor Kontili's Roumanian Flea Circus. This poster was printed around 1895 by Kirstein & Co., Steam Printers, of 38 Church Lane, Commercial Road, East London. Kontili was a rare surname in England at the end of the 19th Century and there appears to have been only one branch of the Kontili family in East London during this period. It is possible that Moses Aaron Kontili operated a flea circus under the name "Professor Kontili" in the East End of London in the years before his death in 1897.
[ABOVE] A heavily retouched photograph from 1896 showing a street scene in the East London district of Stepney. Davis Kontili and his family were living in Stepney, East London during the 1890s.
The Kontili Brothers in Southend-on-Sea
[ABOVE] A postcard showing a view of the High Street, Southend-on-Sea (c1915). The Kontili Brothers ran a fancy repository at 122a High Street, Southend-on-Sea listed in the early 1900s.
[ABOVE] The Kontili Brothers' fancy repository at 122a High Street, Southend-on-Sea listed in the 1902 edition of Kelly's Directory of Essex. Davis Kontili and his brother Solomon Kontili started their fancy goods business in Southend-on-Sea around 1901. Mrs Katie Kontili, the wife of Davis Kontili, was letting out apartments at 2 Central Avenue, Southend-on-Sea during this period.
[ABOVE] A postcard showing a view of Pier Hill, Southend-on-Sea, Essex (1911). The Kontili Brothers operated several gift shops on Pier Hill in the years leading to the First World War.
[ABOVE] An entry in the 1914 edition of Kelly's Directory of Essex listing the fancy goods shops owned by the Kontili Brothers in the Southend area at the outbreak of the First World War.
[ABOVE] A picture postcard entitled The Beach and Promenade, Westcliff-on-Sea, published by the Kontili Brothers of Southend-on-Sea (1910).
[ABOVE] The businesses of Davis Kontili and Solomon Kontili,, trading as the Kontili Brothers, as detailed in The London Gazette on 27th June 1916. The Kontili Brothers had been declared bankrupt on 15th May 1916.
Davis Kontili was born in Roumania (Romania) around 1867, the son of Moses and Hannah Kontili, a Jewish couple who worked as tailors in the East End of London during the 1890s. Davis Kontili (sometimes referred to as David Kontili) was one of several children produced by Moses and Hannah Kontili. Davis Kontili's siblings included an older brother called Solomon Kontili (born c1855, Roumania), three sisters - Golda aka Gertrude (born c1873, Roumania), Leah aka Lily (born c1878, Roumania) and Nellie (born c1879, Roumania) - and a younger brother Harry Kontili (born c1885, Roumania).
It appears that Davis Kontili followed his parents into the tailoring business. In 1888, Davis Kontili married Kate (Katie) Steinberg (born 1868, Roumania), the nineteen year old daughter of Mrs Hannah Steinberg, also from a Jewish Romanian family. When the 1891 census was taken Davis Kontili, his wife Katie, and his younger sister Golda Kontili (born c1878, Roumania) were living at 7 Nottingham Place, Stepney, East London. On the census return, Davis Kontili is described as a "Tailor (Employer)", aged 24. Davis Kontili's younger sister, eighteen year old Golda Kontili was employed as a tailoress. In 1897, Moses Aaron Kontili, Davis Kontili's father, died in the East London district of Mile End, at the age of 68. [ Moses Aaron Kontili died in East London on 8th September 1897 and is buried in the Plashet Jewish Cemetery, Manor Park, East London. As the Plashet Jewish Cemetery was first used in November 1896, Moses Kontili's gravestone must be one of the oldest in the burial ground ].
In 1899, while residing at 7 Nottingham Place, Stepney, East London, thirty-two year old Davis Kontili and his older brother Solomon Kontili applied for British Nationality. British Nationality and Naturalisation Certificates were issued to the two Kontili brothers on 15th May 1899. [Davis Kontili: Nationality and Naturalisation Certificate A10879; Solomon Kontili: Nationality and Naturalisation Certificate A10880]. A third brother, Harry Kontili, who was in his teens in 1899, went on to apply for British Naturalisation in 1912. [A British Nationality and Naturalisation Certificate was issued to Harry Kontili on 1st April 1912].
The Kontili Brothers in Southend-on-Sea
Soon after receiving their naturalisation papers, Davis Kontili and his brother Solomon Kontili left London and set up a business together In the Essex seaside resort of Southend-on-Sea. Initially, the Kontili Brothers operated a wire working business. In the 1901 census, Davis Kontili, his brother Solomon Kontili and their younger brother, seventeen year old Harry Kontili, are all recorded as wire workers in the Prittlewell area of Southend-on-Sea. The brothers had a stand displaying their products at the Exhibition attached to Crufts Annual Dog Show held at London's Royal Agricultural Hall between the 10th and 12th of February 1904. The printed programme for Crufts 20th Great Dog Show, which gives details of the exhibition stands, describes the Kontili Brothers of Southend-on-Sea as "engravers" and "wire workers".
[ABOVE] A view of Southend Pier photographed from Pier Hill, Southend-on-Sea around 1910. Davis Kontili and Solomon Kontili, traded as the Kontili Brothers at Pier Hill Buildings, Southend-on-Sea, from around 1910 until 1916. The ornate clock tower surmounted the fancy goods stalls housed in Pier Hill Buildings on the Southend Pier Approach. The Kontili Brothers sold fancy goods, gifts, souvenirs and toys and provided refreshments at their stalls in Pier Hill Buildings.
In the 1901 census, Davis Kontili and his wife Katie are recorded at the Gaiety Store based in the Pier Hill Buildings on Pier Hill, Southend-on-Sea. (There is still, today, a Gaiety Bazaar selling gifts and fancy goods at 12 Pier Hill, Southend-on-Sea). At this stage, Davis Kontili and his older brother Solomon Kontili were setting up a fancy goods store in Southend's High Street. The 1902 edition of Kelly's Directory of Essex lists the Kontili Brothers as the proprietors of a "fancy repository" at 122a High Street, Southend. In the same Essex directory, Mrs Katie Kontili, Davis Kontili's wife, is shown as the landlady of apartments in Norfolk Avenue, Southend-on-Sea.
By 1910, The Kontili Brothers were running fancy goods stores and refreshment kiosks at various locations in Southend-on-Sea and Westcliff. Around this time, the Kontili Brothers were also publishing picture postcards featuring views of Southend-on-Sea, Westcliff and Prittlewell. The Kontili Brothers produced holiday postcards featuring black & white photographs of beach scenes (See the picture postcard entitled The Beach and Promenade, Westcliff-on-Sea, illustrated above left) and also coloured picture postcards of beauty spots and places of interest. ( A coloured picture postcard of a scene at Prittlewell, Essex produced by the Kontili Brothers was recently offered for sale on eBay).
The 1911 census records six members of the extended Kontili Family residing at 49 York Road, Southend-on-Sea. The Head of Household was Davis Kontili's elderly widowed mother Mrs Hannah Kontili (born c1838, Roumania). Living with Mrs Kontili were her three sons - Solomon Kontili (born c1855, Roumania), Davis Kontili (born c1867, Roumania) and Harry Kontili (born c1885, Roumania) - each son being described on the census return as a "Dealer in Fancy Goods". The household was completed by Davis Kontili's forty-two year old wife Mrs Katie Kontili and her mother Mrs Hannah Steinberg (born c1850, Roumania).
Between 1910 and 1916, The Kontili Brothers ran a number of shops, stalls and kiosks in the Southend-on-Sea area, selling fancy goods, gifts, holiday souvenirs and toys and serving refreshments to holidaymakers at the Essex seaside resort. Local trade directories list the Kontili Brothers' fancy goods repositories at Pier Hill Buildings, Pier Hill, Southend-on-Sea and 91 Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff, Essex. However, in 1916, Davis Kontili and his brother Solomon Kontili were in financial difficulty. By the Spring of 1916, the Kontili Brothers had become insolvent and at a County Court hearing at the Shire Hall, Chelmsford, on 15th May 1916, Davis Kontili and Solomon Kontili were declared bankrupt. The Court ruled that the Discharge of Bankruptcy was to be suspended for three years on the grounds that the brothers had limited assets, had not kept proper books of accounts and had "continued to trade after knowing themselves to be insolvent."
In 1916, the Kontili Brothers found themselves without a business and with no prospect of trading until 15th May 1919. Harry Kontili (born c1885, Roumania), the youngest of the brothers, was no longer involved in the Kontili Brothers business, as he had enlisted in the British Army to fight in the First World War. By the Summer of 1917, Harry Kontili had risen through the ranks to become a "Temporary 2nd Lieutenant" in the Norfolk Regiment. At the end of August 1917, Second Lieutenant Harry Kontili was transferred to a "Service Battalion" to serve as a military officer "with seniority". Solomon Kontili remained in Southend-on-Sea, but his brother Davis Kontili travelled to the seaside resort of Brighton to seek other business opportunities.
Davis Kontili - Photographer in Brighton
Between 1919 and 1920, Davis Kontili converted a suite of rooms at 44 North Street, Brighton (previously occupied by Ellis Brothers, a firm of tailors) into a photographic portrait studio. Davis Kontili's portrait studio was called the Cinema Studio and specialised in the production of photographic portraits in the popular postcard format. Davis Kontili was listed as the proprietor of the Cinema Studio, 44 North Street, Brighton, in Pike's Directory of Brighton & Hove published in 1921. Davis Kontili was also listed as a photographer at 44 North Street, Brighton, in Kelly's Brighton Directory (Buff Book) issued for the period 1921-1922. However, by the time the 1923 edition of Pike's Directory of Brighton & Hove was published in 1923, Davis Kontili had left Brighton and returned to Southend-on-Sea. The 1923 edition Pike's Directory of Brighton & Hove lists the occupant of 44 North Street, Brighton, as Samuel Hanison, a confectioner from East London.
The Kontili Family after 1920
Mrs Hannah Kontili, Davis Kontili's mother, died in Southend-on-Sea in 1930, at the age of 92. Mrs Kontili's eldest son, Solomon Kontili died in Southend the following year at the age of 76. [ The death of Solomon Kontili was registered in the Essex district of Rochford during the First Quarter of 1931].
Davis Kontili died in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, towards the end of 1931, aged 64. [ The death of Davis Kontili was registered in the Essex district of Rochford during the 4th Quarter of 1931]. Mrs Kate Kontili, the wife of Davis Kontili, died five years later during the 2nd Quarter of 1936.
Second Lieutenant Harry Kontili was wounded several times during his military service on the Western Front, but he survived the First World War. Harry Kontili eventually settled in the Hampstead district of North London, where he died in 1938 at the age of 52.
PRIMARY & SECONDARY SOURCES FOR THE SECTION ON DAVIS KONTILI
| PRIMARY SOURCES. Census Returns: 1891, 1901, 1911;
Street & Trade Directories:
Kelly's Directory of Essex (1902,
Pike's Directory of Brighton & Hove
(1921,1922,1923); Kelly's (Buff Book) Brighton Directory (1921-1922);
Newspapers: The London Gazette (18th April, 1916, 27th June
1916). Other Printed Material: The Catalogue of the Great
International Dog Show and Exhibition of Sporting Appliances, Royal
Agricultural Hall, London (Charles Cruft, London, February 1904).
OTHER SOURCES: Websites: Registers of Births, Marriages & Deaths at the FreeBMD website ; Plashet Jewish Cemetery on the Cemetery Scribes website. Registration of British Nationality and Naturalisation on the National Archives website
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