F.A.O. Miss Mary M. Moss, 10th January 1907
I’ve just been sent a great piece of the jigsaw and with no written record of a pre-WW1 photographic business to be found I’m piecing the story together from fragments such as this. Alongside the vast body of images created by Edward are his hand-written messages to family members, clients, individual sitters and even suppliers of D.I.Y materials!
Here’s a transcript of the most recent discovery, a note on the reverse of a real-photo postcard of the ceiling paintings at Tehidy House near Camborne and Redruth.
‘Shall be able to deliver wreck of Highland Fling by Saturday or Monday. We have also a really good p.c. of The Lord Mayor of London. (Signed) E.A. Bragg. Illogan.’
The short note is addressed to: Miss M. M. Moss, Arwenack St., Falmouth, and is postmarked January 10th 1907. A quick look at the Falmouth Post office directories for both 1906 and 1909 show a Miss Mary M. Moss, bookseller and stationer with premises in Gutheridges yard, 43 Arwenack Street, at the intersection of Swanpool Street. Miss Moss was obviously selling postcards and Edward Bragg was supplying as well as offering new pieces as he printed them.
Edward’s handwritten message refers to the wreck of the steamer Highland Fling which ran aground after encountering fog near Cadgwith on The Lizard. An attempt was made to move the ship with tugs and when this failed, much of the cargo was discharged and the ship was split in half with explosives, the stern section being towed to Falmouth. Edward’s images not only show the tugs in action but also the salvaged half which he pictured in dry dock at Falmouth.
The interesting thing for me is that the official wreck report states the ship getting into difficulty late afternoon on January 7th; Edward must have made the trip to the wreck site, returned to Illogan to process his plates and on the 10th (confirmed by the postmark) was already arranging delivery of stock. That’s a pretty fast move for the period. I must add, the finished images have the feel of his work and I don’t believe he will have bought-in glass-plates of the scene from another photographer, after all, that would decimate his profits!
The second sentence in our note mentions a real-photo post card of The Lord Mayor of London. This seems to have been a popular card produced by Edward and in one of his adverts in the Redruth based Cornubian newspaper (from February 2nd 1907) he says, ‘Our new photograph postcard for you this week is Sir William Treloar, Lord Mayor of London, who has kindly forwarded to us his portrait in Mayoral Robes for publication in our series of Distinguished Cornishmen’. Lots of examples of this image have survived and this popular Cornishman attended Flora Day in Helston that year, I bet these photo-cards sold in huge numbers via the local stationers.
So, from a couple of sentences, a simple address and a postmark I have another little piece in the story of an early photographic business; I wonder whether Miss Moss continued to stock Edward’s work? He did move to Falmouth later that year, November 1907. I’ve only checked one later directory of Falmouth and see that our lady is still operating from 43 Arwenack Street in 1912 – Edward was incredibly prolific as a photographer during this period in Falmouth and I bet the working relationship continued!
To see more work by photographer Edward Albert Bragg please visit www.eabragg.co.uk where you can follow a link to the related facebook page…. and, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have something to add to this article or to the project in general. I welcome any thoughts.
Special thanks to Robert Paterson for finding this little piece of the jigsaw.
Phil Nicholls, March’15.
Archive & print sales: www.philnicholls.com