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HomeContents > People > Photographers > John Charlie Sanford

Dates:  1812 - ?
Active:  UK

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for John Charlie Sanford
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Sanford was originally a partner in the London wholesale and retail stationers firm of Bowen & Sanford. By the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851 he had established his own business, and soon he turned to the blossoming trade of supplying specialty papers to photographers. By 1853, according to an advertisement, Sanford stocked “some of the best papers” for photographers, including Whatman’s and Turner’s and ones of his own make. He offered papers iodized for the Talbotype, waxed for Gustave Le Gray’s process, and salted by John Stewart’s air-pump process; he also established a separate printing establishment for making positives. His offerings continued to expand, and by 1856 he listed himself solely as a “photographic stationer.” Sanford actively used his own products, undoubtedly bringing him both personal satisfaction and credibility with his customers. In the 1852, 1854, and 1855 Society of Arts exhibitions he submitted many of his own waxed-paper architectural views, along with prints from negatives by others (presumably his customers). Similarly, in the Photographic Society of London’s exhibitions in 1854 and 1855 he displayed his personal mastery of the art. His waxed-paper views shown in the 1854 exhibition of the Liverpool Photographic Society were admired, as the society’s journal wrote, for their “large size and elaborate detail.” Obviously, he was in a position to choose any process he wanted, but waxed-paper was his favorite. The heyday of paper photography coincided with the peak years of his firm. By the time of the 1861 census he called himself a “paper manufacturer.” 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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