Forbes Southampton Directory, classified advertisements 1857. The same advertisement appeared in the 1859 Directory.
Early portrait in fine quality case. Image courtesy of Jenny Hall.
Carte de visite early 1860s
The last time William G Smith was recorded in the census was 1881, when he gave his occupation as 'Traveller in Photography'. During his long career as a photographer WG Smith travelled between Portsea, Brighton, Southsea and Southampton, before settling in Toxteth, Lancashire in the late 1870s. W.G Smith produced large numbers of carte de visites in Southampton in the 1860s, and many examples survive.
Carte de visite c 1860
The 1851 census recorded Smith as a carver and gilder in Brighton, assisted by his brother Edward, and employing 3 men. In the same year the Brighton Post Office directory listed him as a carver and gilder at 199 Western Road. Later in 1851 Smith returned to Portsea, (the place of his birth), to marry Mary Wilson Thom. In 1855 the Southampton Kellys Directory listed WG Smith, photographer, at 5 Upper Prospect Place. Smith placed an advertisement in the classifieds section of the 1857 Post office directory , offering daguerreotype portraits, photographs on paper, and stereoscopic photographs at 11 Upper Prospect Place. He was recorded in the residential listings lodging with Mrs Crabb and Mrs Layzell at 7 Prospect Place. In the same year William and Mary Smith's daughter Emily was born in Southampton.
Prospect House was built in the eighteenth century, with further buildings added either side in the 1820s. By the mid nineteenth century the row of shops and houses was known as Upper and Lower Prospect Place. The older buildings were set back from the road with large gardens to the front, and the elevated position of Upper Prospect Place would have provided good light conditions for photography.
Forbes Directory 1857
Carte de visite c1860. The base of the neck brace can be seen behind the subject's right foot.
In 1857 the Forbes Southampton Directory included a section for photographers in the commercial classifieds. Just 3 photographers advertised :- WG Smith, Messrs Barter , and 'Joseph' Latter, (William Latter).Unusually, WG Smith continued to advertise daguerreotype portraits in the late 1850s, well after his contemporaries had stopped advertising the older process. The 1861 census recorded Artist and Photographer WG Smith living and working at 11 Upper Prospect Place, with his wife, 3 children and 2 servants.
Carte de visite of lady with small dog, early 1860s
WG Smith advertised at 11 Upper Prospect Place until 1867, when photographer J.F Sharpe took over the studio. Smith and his family moved to Portsea around this time, and in 1870 another daughter was born there. His occupation was given as photographer and pawnbroker for the 1871 census, living and working at 1 Atholl Place. His wife Mary died in 1875, and after that time Smith ran studios in Portsea, Southsea and Southampton. W.G Smith was listed as a photographer and portrait painter at 1 Carlton Place in the 1878 Southampton White's History, Gazeteer and Directory, and at 4 Elm Grove in the same Southsea directory.
At the end of the 1870s WG Smith and 4 of his adult children moved to Toxteth in Lancashire. The 1881 census recorded William Smith senior's occupation as Traveller in Photography, and his son William as a photographer's assistant. Daughter Ada's occupation was given as 'photo spotter' The next door neighbour was an engraver, and another neighbour was a 'photographic sorter'.
In 1885 WG Smith died at Granby Street, Toxteth, and was buried in Toxteth Park Cemetery. His son William continued working as a photographer in Liverpool.