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Macclesfield Street

Photographers: Henry Dixon and Son

'Shop in Macclesfield Street, Soho, London, 1883'

Reputedly one of the oldest shops in London. Now in London's Chinatown.

Carbon print process

The carbon print was invented by Louis Poitevin in 1855 and further improved in the following decade. It became the most successful process for reproducing photographs in permanent form and was extensively used for the production of views and for book illustration well into the 20th century.

From Alfred Marks, Society for photographing the relics of old London (2 vols, London, 1882 and 1886)

Sarah Waters comments:

‘This picture takes us beyond the grand events and large personalities of history, directly to the grubby ordinariness of everyday Victorian life. The scene in essence is utterly familiar, even while its components - the costumes, the bills, the advertisements for Oriental teas and 'hot joints' - locate it very firmly in its 19th-century setting. Like the gazes of the shopkeeper and the fidgety boy, in fact, the details are both inviting and slightly challenging - and the man and the woman in the shop's interior have become ghosts, less available to us than the loaves and the ginger beer bottles. The neighbouring windows are opaque, with lifted sashes and missing panes opening only on to darkness.’

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