Brothers Andrew and George Taylor were born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1832 and 1840, respectively. Virtually nothing is known about their childhoods, education, or early careers until the sibling duo began producing miniatures. Gradually, they, like many of their colleagues, eventually transitioned to the more lucrative vocation of photography. They opened their first London gallery at 11 Cannon Street West in 1864. They specialized in portraiture for collections and by commission, and soon were so successful they expanded their business throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland, opening studios in such cities as Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, and Dublin. By 1880, they had 25 branches throughout Great Britain. Believed to be the first successful global chain of photography studios, A & G Taylor later opened portrait galleries in Paris and throughout such major U. S. cities as Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh.
Although Andrew Taylor reportedly left the company in 1869, he remained chief manager at the London corporate headquarters until the 1880s. By 1880, the firm employed approximately 600 employees, with much of the administrative staff comprised of females (although there were no male photographers), and began featuring in advertisements the boast that they were the "Largest Photographers in the World." Like their manufacturing counterparts, A & G Taylor employees worked with rapid precision on assembly lines to meet their daily target objectives. Photographers used Dallmeyer lenses for portraits, which were considered the highest quality lenses of their time, and customers were allowed to pay for them in installments, the first known plan of its kind. Their uniform production system allowed them to operate their many branches with optimum efficiency.
The A & G Taylor chains were able to capitalize on the lucrative sale of celebrity carte-des-visite, with cabinet cards featuring the British royal family becoming best sellers. However, advertisements depicting the chain as "Photographers to the Queen" could never be substantiated, as an embarrassing 1884 court case revealed. Nevertheless, the A & G Taylor formula of quality craftsmanship and affordable portraits and carte-des-visite continued into the twentieth century, and operations grew to include photographic furniture such as elaborate props, posing chairs, storage cabinets, and head rests. After the death of co-owner George Taylor (who had relocated to New Zealand years earlier for health reasons) in 1911, A & G Taylor focused primarily on greeting cards, children, military-themed portraits, and comics. Its Carbontone series consisted of black and white greeting prints, whereas its Orthochrome series was comprised of halftone tinted views. Business dropped off dramatically during World War I, and it is believed that A & G Taylor ceased all operations shortly after war's end in 1918. London's National Portrait Gallery is now home to several A & G Taylor portraits.
2017 The Cabinet Card Gallery (URL: https://cabinetcardgallery.wordpress.com/category/photographer-a-g-taylor).
2017 Carte De Visite (URL: http://www.east-durham.co.uk/carte%20de%20visite/cards.htm).
2007 Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, Vol. I (New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group LLC), pp. 9, 611, 1381.
2013 The First Australian First-Class Cricket Team to Tour England and North America, 1878, by A. & G. Taylor (URL: https://www.portrait.gov.au/portraits/2013.81/the-first-australian-first-class-cricket-team-to-tour-england-and-north-america).
2017 MetroPostcard List of Postcard Publishers "T" by Alan Petrulis (URL: http://www.metropostcard.com/publisherst.html).
2012 Photography of Victorian Scotland by Roddy Simpson (Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press Ltd.), p. 80.
2017 Professional Photographers in Bexhill (URL: http://www.photohistory-sussex.co.uk/BexhillPhotgrsPa_Pl.htm).
Copyright © 2002 - 2019 Historic Camera