1905-1908: Edwardian Street Fashion in London and Paris

London, Cromwell Road, 1906

London, Cromwell Road, 1906

London, Cornwall Gardens, 20th February 1906

London, Cornwall Gardens, 20th February 1906

London, 30th June 1908

London, 30th June 1908

London, Church Street, 8th September 1906

London, Church Street, 8th September 1906

London, Kensington, 8th September 1906

London, Kensington, 8th September 1906

London, Kensington, 4th July 1906

London, Kensington, 4th July 1906

London, St Albans Road, 12th July 1907

London, St Albans Road, 12th July 1907

“Edward Linley Sambourne was chief cartoonist of Punch and an enthusiastic amateur photographer. His wife Marion complained in her diary that photography had become as much an obsession as a hobby.”

- Dave Walker

Paris, Steps to Rue de Rivoli, 3rd June 1906

Paris, Steps to Rue de Rivoli, 3rd June 1906

Paris, 5th June 1906

Paris, 5th June 1906

Paris, 3rd June 1906

Paris, 3rd June 1906

Paris, 3rd June 1906

Paris, 3rd June 1906

Paris, Champs-Élysées, 3rd June 1906

Paris, Champs-Élysées, 3rd June 1906

Paris, Helene du Bois, 4th June 1906

Paris, Helene du Bois, 4th June 1906

Paris, Place du Louvres, 4th June 1906

Paris, Place du Louvres, 4th June 1906

Paris, 4th June 1906

Paris, 4th June 1906

Paris, Helen du Bois plays handball, 4th June 1906

Paris, Helen du Bois plays handball, 4th June 1906

Paris, Tuileries Gardens, 4th June 1906

Paris, Tuileries Gardens, 4th June 1906

Paris, Tuileries Gardens, 4th June 1906

Paris, Tuileries Gardens, 4th June 1906

Paris, Rue des Rivoli, 5th June 1906

Paris, Rue des Rivoli, 5th June 1906

Paris, Boulevard des Italiens, 5th June 1906

Paris, Boulevard des Italiens, 5th June 1906

21 Responses

  1. James Hamilton

    FWIW, I worked for Kensington and Chelsea Libraries for 13 years. The Local Studies Collection of which Dave Walker is head possesses the copyright to the images which their weblog, The Library Time Machine, has recently displayed and which you’ve cherrypicked here.

    Reproduction fees for images in that collection are ESSENTIAL to its maintenance. Everyone is aware of just how much financial pressure libraries are under these days. Many of my friends from RBKC have been made redundant in the last year as a consequence of the worsening conditions for public libraries and public collections.

    Given that the Retronaut has a growing reputation for a smash and grab approach to material that appears online – see the comments on James Lileks’ website recently after the Retronaut reproduced a slew of his images without permission – I am concerned that the Retronaut has failed to do what is legally necessary in this instance too.

    I look forward to a comment in this thread to tell me that I am wrong and that permission for reproduction has been obtained and fees, if requested, have been paid. Not to do so, in the current climate, would not just be an oversight and a breach of copyright. It would be a moral failure because the people behind the Retronaut are from the UK museums industry themselves and understand the principles involved. I trust they will put the record straight.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Chris
      Chris

      Thanks for your comment, James.

      Wherever reasonably possible, we go out of our way to contact the copyright holder of any material we seek to feature on Retronaut. We do this whether or not the person who has posted the material online owns the copyright themselves. If a copyright holder does not wish Retronaut to feature their material, we do not. If we make a mistake, and the copyright holder contacts us, we take the material down as soon as possible. Using this approach we have developed many great archive and collection partnerships, from commercial archives like LIFE and British Pathe, to individuals like Wayne Hemingway and Norman Seeff, to the public sector.

      With reference to the comments on James Lileks’ website – we have a number of people who create capsules for Retronaut. One of our team created two capsules using material that James had scanned – one capsule was posted in July 2011, another in April 2012. Unfortunately, the person who created the capsules did not contact James Lileks, though we believed that they had done so.

      When James saw the capsule posted in April, he contacted us and we immediately took the capsule down and replied to James on the same day, writing:

      “I’m sorry about that – we are usually very careful about checking with the owners of images before assembling a post. This one was created by a member of our team who obviously didn’t do that. We have taken it down.”

      At this point we did not search our capsules for any others using James’ material, and so we were not conscious that we had previously posted a capsule using material from his website, back in July 2011. If we had been conscious of this, we would of course have taken it down as well. When James found this previous capsule, he wrote the critical blog post to which you refer. I am sorry that this was his response.

      In his post, James singles out a capsule we created using material from a Newsweek gallery of the book “The Disappearing Face of New York” as a particularly bad example of copyright violation. In fact, this capsule was posted on Retronaut with the support and approval of the authors of the book, who were very pleased indeed to have it featured on Retronaut – to date, the capsule has been “liked’ on Facebook two thousand times.

      James also refers to the lack of written context in our capsules. Some people dislike this, believing that written context is essential to interpret visual material. This is a very reasonable view, and it is also one we disagree with. We have made a conscious choice to focus primarily on the information within visual material. For some, this is a wrong choice, while for others, and for us, it works.

      It is true that we did not contact RBKC Local Studies Collection to ask to feature the images from Edward Sambourne. This was for two reasons – firstly, it is a public owned archive and , in common with almost all other public archives, there is no mechanism – and usually no desire – to charge for screen resolution images used in online blogs.

      The other reason is that we believe that Retronaut and sites like it provide a real and genuine benefit to the public museum and archive sector by showcasing and presenting material from the sector to audiences who would not otherwise see it. Excellent as The Library Time Machine blog is, it has a limited audience, and Retronaut undoubtedly increases that audience and the awareness of the work of Edward Sambourne. At Retronaut, we have many examples of this occurring, and publishers and archives are increasingly keen to see their material featured on Retronaut – it can act as a shop-window into their collections. It is actually possible to quantify the reach that Retronaut will have provided for the Edward Sambourne material and RKBC Local Studies Collection today – for example, the capsule was posted on our Facebook page where it has been “liked” to date 436 times, and the images have been seen by 25,444 people at the time of writing

      I myself have been made redundant from the public museum and archive sector in my career, and I do not underestimate or take for granted the challenges the sector currently faces. I also believe that Retronaut is making a very positive contribution to the future of the sector. In my view, the answer to the financial challenges of local authority collections like RKBC cannot be met by policing and charging for online blog use. Not only is this impossible – by posting any material online, an archive will find its images are inevitably shared across many platforms – it is also undesirable, because it mitigates against the sharing and exploring of the material, and it is this sharing and exploring that inevitably leads to new and fresh income streams.

      As an example of this, at Retronaut we are regularly approached by many leading publishers about creating books based on content we cover. Based on the conversations we have had with publishers, Edward Sambourne’s Edwardian fashion images are precisely the kind of material publishers like these are seeking. Perhaps RKBC have already explored this avenue – if not, we would be extremely happy to introduce RKBC to a range of possible publishers. Unquestionably, featuring material on Retronaut and the increased interest it attracts as a result can open up any number of possibilities for archives and collections.

      We have served ads on Retronaut for the last year. We are currently building a new version of the site to be released very shortly, and when this is released, we will cease to serve ads in any form. Although the income the ads have generated has been useful, they are also a crude approach and jar with the site, and with the new incarnation. As a result we will no longer, directly or indirectly, generate a financial return from the material we showcase.

      I am sorry that we disagree about these approaches, and I hope you will take this response in the positive and open way in which it is meant

      Yours
      Chris

      Reply
    • CS

      Could James Hamilton clarify why these images are under copyright? I believe that in the UK the copyright to these photos expired 70 years after the photographer’s death (he died in 1910). And a basic scan of a photo is not sufficiently original to generate new copyright.

      While the library may have a case for charging reproduction fees on ‘public domain’ images, there is also no cost to the library for an image that has already been digitised.

      I am not a lawyer, so I welcome anyone knowledgeable to correct me.

      Reply
  2. RadialSkid

    I find it disappointing that any images taken over 100 years ago are still locked up under copyright. Further proof that it only exists to deny access to history, rather than provide it…

    Reply
  3. Tonya Cinnamon

    i enjoy seeing all the photos from the past. I have learned so much from this site and its like stepping back in time and seeing a part of history become alive again. Im a 1975 baby so its really interesting to see and learn from all these photos :)

    Reply
  4. Jonathan Walford

    My understanding of copyright law is that these images are in the public domain because of their age (the definition of which varies in the world but over 100 years old is safe anywhere in the world.) However, just because they are copyright free doesn’t mean they are free free. The facility that houses the image charges for its copying (why do you think they don’t allow photos in museums!) From my experience some archives exist to punish the honest people who ask for permission, rather than actually try to make their collections accessible and promote their holdings, and going after those who blatantly steal copyrighted images. The worst I ever ran into was the National Library of Wales – they kept sending me bills every few months because they found something else to charge me for: copying, permission, handling, rights transfer… in the end one stupid little cartoon cost me more than $300, which if I had known I would have never used. And the woman I dealt with was a smarmy cow to top it off.

    Reply
    • Red Cardinal

      Jonathon,

      You make a fair point about possible copying charges. However, I don’t think these can apply in this particular instance as the images have already been scanned and placed online. The RBKC library hasn’t incurred any additional cost by Retronaut reporducing the images here.

      Basically, I believe the position to be as CS said in his/her post and James Hamilton to be incorrect in his assertion that Kensington and Chelsea Libraries own the copyright to these photos.

      Interestingly, the Library Time Machine website makes no reference at all anywhere (as far as I can see) to copyright or costs :)

      Reply
  5. Avatar of Chris
    Chris

    Retronaut have now spoken to RKBC Local Studies Collection and the Library Time Machine. They have no objections to Retronaut showcasing their material – as they put it, “please carry on”.

    Reply
  6. Jinna

    I absolutely love these images…great to hear they won’t be taken down :)

    Reply
  7. LauraJ

    What did Edwardian MEN dress like? Anyone? ;) He certainly preferred photographing the ladies didn’t he? No wonder his wife began to dislike his ‘hobby’. Of special interest is the photo of the two ladies dressed in mourning. The head to toe black could mean nothing else. A lovely set of pictures, thanks so much for posting and keep them coming!

    Reply
    • Kat

      I agree those two women look like they’re in mourning, but for the record the 1890s saw a big fashion in black clothes, because there was an economic depression and then (as now) black clothes were more versatile. See the more recent phenomena of the “basic black” wardrobe. In 1906 wearing black clothes to economise would not have been unheard of.

      Reply

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