American Gem Studio
75 Princes Street
Below are the front and back of a gem
portrait from J Austin's studio at 75 Princes Street.
Reproduced with acknowledgement to
Gem portraits were tiny
photos mounted behind a card, the same size as cartes de visite (approx
4ins x 2.5 ins) to enable them to fit into Photographic albums designed to
hold cartes de visite.
Cost of Gem Portraits
Gem portraits were not expensive - 9
i.e. 9 for £0.03 in the example above.
Many gem portraits have no photographer's
name and address on the back. The only two that I have seen
from Edinburgh with photographer's name and address both come from
75 Princes Street, at the corner of Princes Street and Hanover
Street opposite the Royal Scottish Academy Galleries. They are
- J Austin's
American Gem Studio (when?)
White's American Portraits
The names of photographers based at
75 Princes Street/1
Hanover Street changes so frequently that it is not surprising to
find some of them not appearing in the Edinburgh trade directories.
They may have arrived and left between the annual publications of
these directories. A similar situation, no doubt arose
along the road at 79
Studio Addresses in Other Cities
I have another tintype photograph by J Austin, also on a
carte-de-visite size of mount. The
photograph is larger than the one above. It is oval, approx 2ins x
The back of the picture is very similar to the one
above, but with different wording. The label is headed: J Austin, American Gem
Studios in Edinburgh
and at, Grainger Street West, Newcastle-on-Tyne.
There is also a reference to
London, but the full text of the label is not now
Thank you to Marcel Safier, Photographic Historian, who wrote:
"J. Austin 'The American Gem
Photographer' offered 9 mounted gems for 7½d. His studio was
at 13 Grainger St West, Newcastle from 1881-1882 and his mount
advertises a branch at 75 Princes St, Edinburgh."
Holland Park, Queensland Australia
In contrast to the tiny 'gem photos' above, here are two large
attractive framed photos, each 22 ins x 9 ins, signed by J
Austin. Is there any connection between the J Austin who
signed these and J Austin's Gem Studio in Edinburgh.
Thank you to Robert McLeod, Elgin, Moray, Scotland for providing