Men of Mark

Thompson Cooper (1837-1904), Men of Mark, a Gallery of Contemporary Portraits of Men Distinguished in the Senate, the Church, in Science, Literature and Art, the Army, Navy, Law, Medicine, etc. [Woodburytyped] from Life by Lock and Whitfield (London: S. Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1876-1883). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), Oversize 2003-0077Q vol.1-7

The credit for this seven-volume set of photographic portraits is often given to Thompson Cooper, a journalist for the London Times who wrote the brief biographical entries. However, the title page lists Samuel Robert Lock (1822-1881) and George Carpe Whitfield (born 1833), the names of the photographers first and gives only a lesser mention to Cooper. Even today, scholarly respect for images is almost always less than that for words.

From 1876 to 1883, Lock and Whitfield produced a volume of 36 oval woodburytype portraits each year. Each original print had to be individually printed, trimmed, and tipped onto the page, so that for a run of 200 copies at least 7,200 prints had to be produced. Lock died in 1881, leaving Whitfield to complete the project alone.

Lock and Whitfield formed a partnership in 1856, operating out of a studio at 18 Regent Street in London. Lock specialized in painted miniatures and Whitfield in albumen photographs. Their advertisement read: “carte de visite and every description of photograph, colored or uncolored, on paper, ivory or porcelain.”

Graphic Arts holds a complete, immaculate set of Men of Mark, which came with an additional group of loose albumen prints inside the first volume. In particular, three composite sheets each hold sixteen circular miniature portraits (one shown here).