An antique Victorian photograph album, produced by the renowned James Russell & Sons' Studio, is up for bid on eBay.
"This item is quite a find in my opinion," says the seller. "...with identifications possible not only of the royal figures who open the album, but, as I will show, the head photographer's youngest son John Lemmon and his family. I am setting a reserve to reflect both the value of some of the individual cartes, which include three unusual post-mortems, cats & dogs & of course royalty etc., but also in the hope that this collection will not be broken, as it is a fascinating slice of photographic history."
The seller's vivid description continues, "From the very personal and comprehensive cartes of the children included inside, the album must have belonged either to John himself or to a very close relative or perhaps the nanny, though I'm not sure it would be within a domestic servant's means, unless given as a gift.
The Russell family operated a photographic studio at 65 East Street, Chichester for over 40 years (1862 to 1903). All of James Russell senior's sons became photographers. Here are some of the passages pertaining to John Lemmon Russell in particular. These references are in regards to dates later than that of most of the photographs in the album: Around 1881, John Lemmon Russell (born 1846), Russell's youngest son, was despatched to London to establish branch studios in the capital. Over the next decade, John Lemmon Russell set up branch studios of J. Russell & Sons at Tufnell Park in N. W. London, Brompton Road in S. W. London, Brecknock Road in North London, and Baker Street in West London. On 3rd May,1897, a Royal Warrant was granted to Russell & Sons. By this date the head of the firm was John Lemmon Russell. The wording of the Royal Warrant refers to 'J. L. Russell, A. H. Russell, & E. G. Russell, trading as Russell & Sons, Photographers to Her Majesty.' John Lemmon Russell was J. L. Russell and A. H. and E. G. were apparently his two photographer sons - Arthur Henry Russell (born 1875, Chichester) [almost definitely represented in album] and Edward G. Russell (born c1882 London).
Adding to the appeal of the family photographs, are a cdv of Edward Prince of Wales & children, plus Princess Alexandra. There are two dog and two cat portraits, some local scenes, and a birdcage one of the children has been given as a prop. Also a wedding and some fine but unidentified family and friends. With the three post-mortems (two of which are on unusual black mourning mounts), there is a printed poem to their son 'ON A FADED FLOWER' written by a J. Fletcher--quite possibly read out loud at the funeral. It mentions him being 'amongst a group of seven,' and there is a baby photo probably the youngest not yet born at the time of the montage. At the back of the album are a loose trimmed WWI era postcard, and a pair of pressed leaves of unspecified sentimental association."