There is no biographical information available on the childhood, education, and training of London-based photographic printer Alfred Raines, except that he first entered into an association with John William Rubens and conducted business in Surrey as Rubens and Raines until the partnership was dissolved in December of 1892. Then, joined by his brother H. W. Raines, he opened Alfred Raines & Co. on St. Mary's Street in the west London district of Ealing. The combined entrepreneurial skills of Mr. Raines and the management expertise of his brother resulted in an immediate and highly profitable venture. A small staff of four quickly grew to thirty during the summer months and more than forty workers throughout the winter.
Specializing in bromide and carbon printing processes as well as platinotype printmaking, the company built up an extremely loyal clientele of professional photographers, illustrators, and artists. The company was best known for its finishing and enlargements, but also produced unparalleled black and white prints, good quality semi-tint works, During the late nineteenth century, Alfred Raines & Co. carved a particularly lucrative niche creating oil portraits that were presented to retiring public officials.
Mr. Raines' facility was very impressive for its time and expanded into several departments as the business grew. He wanted the primary studios and artists' rooms to receive plenty of northern daylight, but to ensure that work can continue after the sun goes down, an electric arc lighting system was in place. The collotype printing room, enlarging room, and artist finishing rooms occupied upper floors of the building, which included crayon, brush, and the aerograph or early airbrush. Even a fire in 1900 could not prevent Alfred Raines & Co. from its continued growth in half-tones, watercolors, detailed color portraits and illustrations, and its trademark enlargements.
Well-known for his professionalism and commitment to artistic integrity, Mr. Raines had secured a respected reputation that extended throughout Europe. He was also a devoted husband to Kate and dedicated family man, spending rare leisure time at his Ealing home affectionately known as "Sunnymede." Sadly, Mr. Raines' life was cut tragically short after eating tainted oysters during a family holiday outing. He contracted typhoid fever and died at home on September 22, 1903. However, Alfred Raines & Co. continued conducting business for several years' after the death of its owner and namesake.
1893 The London Gazette, No. 26367 (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office), p. 490.
1901 Practical and Junior Photographer, Vol. I (London: Percy Lund, Humphries & Co., Ltd.), p. 364.
1899 The Process Engraver's Monthly, Vol. VI (London: Dawbarn & Ward, Ltd.), p. 31.
1903 The Photographic Dealer and D. & P. Trade Review, Vol. XIV (London: The Photographic Dealer), p. 85.
1900 The Photogram, Vol. VII, (London: Dawbarn & Ward, Ltd.), p. 327.
1897 Picture-Making by Photography (London: Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld.), p. 151.
2012 What’s That Picture (URL: http://www.whatsthatpicture.com/2012/01/early-ealing-studios-photographers).
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