Arthur Henry Homewood


Bank Building, Burgess Hill, with Homewood's shops. R. A. Publishing card

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Stationer and bookseller, 1 & 2 Bank Building, Burgess Hill. Homewood is one of the best documented of Sussex postcard publishers. Useful sources are Anthony Byatt's now classic book, Picture postcards and their publishers (1978, Golden Age Postcard Books, Malvern), which gives Homewood a short entry, and Brian Stevens's definitive article, "A.H. Homewood of Burgess Hill", in the June 1992 edition of Picture Postcard Monthly (volume 158, pp. 18-20). In 2006, Stevens followed this up with "A checklist of Sussex postcards published by A.H. Homewood" (privately published). A revised edition appeared in 2012.

Arthur Homewood was born at 26 Clifton Street in Brighton in December 1857. His parents were Elizabeth Homewood and William Beverley Homewood, son of Isaac Homewood, a draper. Elizabeth was the daughter of George Bacon, a plumber. She had been born in about 1824 at Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire, but at the time of her marriage, was a schoolmistress in Harlow in Essex. William Beverley Homewood was a printer and lived at 26 St George's Street in Brighton. The marriage took place at the Baptist Chapel in Harlow on October 20, 1855, and then the couple set up home in Brighton. By the time Arthur was born, his father had abandoned printing to become a Congregational minister and church missionary. His work took him to Horningsham in Wiltshire, where Elizabeth gave birth to her second child, Florence Homewood, on March 7, 1860.

William Beverley Homewood died of an abscess on May 17, 1861 at his father's home at 3 Prince's Place, North Street. He was only 29 and his son Arthur was just four. Brian Stevens has established that when Arthur was older his mother sent him to a Congregationalist boarding school at Lewisham in Kent. The 1881 census records that, after leaving school, Arthur became a stationer's assistant. He is believed to have worked for his uncle, Frederic Stanbridge Homewood, who ran a fancy goods and stationery shop at 45 Dyke Road in Brighton and lived with his family over the shop. Frederic had been born in the town in about 1834, and had married Elizabeth Brennand, a widow, at Aysgarth Parish Church in Yorkshire on September 3, 1870. He was five years older than Elizabeth, who came from West Burton in upper Wensleydale. Her father was Richard Beverley, a farmer. Presumably, William Beverley Homewood was named after him.

When the 1881 census was taken, Frederic and Elizabeth Homewood had two children: Anne Beverley Homewood, aged 9, and John Beverley Homewood, aged 7. Arthur Homewood was living with his mother at her home at 62 Buckingham Place in Brighton. Also sharing the house were his aunt, Mary Ann Wright (born at Sawbridgeworth in about 1819) and his younger sister, Florence, who worked as a school governess.

On August 28, 1884 Arthur Homewood married Edith Parkhurst at the Congregational Church in Burgess Hill. She was two years his senior and the daughter of Thomas Parkhurst (deceased), a scripture reader. After the wedding, Homewood and his wife moved to 2 Bank Building in Burgess Hill, where he opened a shop selling stationery and books. Later, he also acquired 1 Bank Building so he could expand his shop.

When the 1891 census was held, Arthur and his wife were still living at the Bank Building in Burgess Hill, where they shared the accommodation with Mary Wright and an apprentice, Kate Newnham. Florence Homewood was living in the High Street in Hurstpierpoint, where she managed a stationery and fancy goods shop that Arthur had opened. Her mother, Elizabeth, kept house with her.

Frederic Homewood, Arthur's uncle, died in 1886 in Brighton, aged 52. Eleven years later Florence died, when she was only 37. By the time the 1901 census was held, Arthur and Edith had moved from Burgess Hill to set up home in Western Terrace, Hurstpierpoint, with Mary Wright and his mother, Elizabeth, who was now about 77.

After Frederic Homewood's death, his widow, Elizabeth Homewood, continued to run the Dyke Road stationery shop, but in late 1902 she died and Edith Homewood took over, retaining the shop's name of "F. S. Homewood". Arthur Homewood sold his Hurstpierpoint shop and moved back to Burgess Hill to keep a closer eye on his two shops in the Bank Building.

In 1919 Homewood sold his two Burgess Hill shops to H.J. Combridge, a wholesale stationer, and retired, at the age of 61, to live at Mossleigh in Park Road in Burgess Hill. His health soon began to fail and he died on March 31, 1922, leaving effects of £898. Edith continued to run the Dyke Road shop in partnership with the shop's manageress and the manageress of the former Burgess Hill shop until shortly before her death in 1942. There were no children to inherit the business, which, according to Brian Stevens, did not finally close until about 1950.

In the mid 1890s a Frederick Holden ran a photographic business at 6 Bank Building, and it is possible that he taught Homewood how to take photographs. In 1903 Homewood launched his first series of postcards, which Stevens refers to as the "1st Main Issue". This consisted of nearly 200 black and white halftones (often of churches - hardly a surprise given his father and father-in-law's backgrounds) with a wide border at the bottom containing a printed caption. Hand-tinted examples of some of the cards were also sold. In contrast with later cards, the backs are printed in green with "A.H. Homewood, Burgess Hill" written in very tiny capitals. They have a pair of closely spaced lines dividing the correspondence and address spaces. Sold singly and in packets of six, the cards seem to have been a commercial success, yet to modern eyes they have a rather lifeless appearance owing to the limitations of the printing process. The name of the printing firm that supplied the cards is not known.

A variant of the 1st Main Issue has backs printed in the usual green, but with a longer heading, "Pictorial Post Card" substituting for "Post Card". In addition, "A. H. Homewood's Series" is printed vertically in tiny letters in the bottom left corners of the backs, whereas in the more usual version the word "Series" is omitted and "A. H. Homewood, Burgess Hill" is printed horizontally, directly under the "Post Card" heading.

Some mystery halftones with green backs, but very short dividers, are also known. The pictures are marked "Burrow"at the base, and the words "A. H. Homewood. Photo." appear below the printed captions on the front of the cards. No postmarks have been found, and whether these cards were contemporaneous with the 1st Main Issue is an open question.

Over the next two years Homewood introduced new cards in a variety of styles. Perhaps the most important were some black and white collotypes that started to appear in late 1904. As before, some cards were hand tinted. The backs are printed in red instead of green and are divided by a pair of red lines into the address and correspondence spaces. The captions on the front of the cards are printed in red and slightly italicised. There is usually no white border at the base of the pictures. One notable card in the series shows the "Through Manchester to Eastbourne Express" approaching Wivelsfield Station. A variant series with black captions, showing Hurst Green and other places, was on sale by May 1905. By early January 1905, Homewood was also selling black and white collotypes with red captions and backs printed in black with the words "For Home and Abroad" added under the title "Post Card" (Stevens refers to these cards as type 2C). The printing was carried out by a firm in Frankfurt. Coloured collotypes with "For Home and Abroad" backs followed anonymously later in the year.

By July 1905 Homewood had started selling a major series of coloured collotype cards of Amberley, Burgess Hill, Hurstpierpoint, Rotherfield and other places, which Stevens calls the "2nd Main Issue". The backs are printed in red and have the usual pair of closely spaced lines dividing the correspondence and address spaces. They are labelled "A.H. Homewood's Series. Burgess Hill, Sussex". Picture definition is often rather poor, and the colouring quite crude and wishy-washy.

Within a few months, the new cards were superseded by what became much the largest series, the "3rd Main Issue". The cards are again collotypes, and the backs as before are printed in red and have a pair of dividing lines, but the crucial difference is that they are labelled "A.H. Homewood, Burgess Hill, Sussex" with the word "Series" omitted. Although most of the cards are coloured, some uncoloured versions are known. The captions are normally printed in red, more rarely white.

The 3rd Main Issue covered a great variety of subjects, from churches to pubs and street scenes and quiet country views. Railway station cards were a specialty, and remain popular with today's collectors. A card of the oxen team at Saddlescombe is another favourite, as is a card of some jolly men washing sheep on an unnamed Sussex farm. A card showing the London to Hastings express speeding through Etchingham Station at 60 mph is a testament to Homewood's skills as a photographer. Sometimes the printing let him down. The best 2nd and 3rd Main Issue cards are quite delicately coloured, but the worst mix strident reds with acid greens and blues or else are marred by blue skies that turn strangely pink near the horizon. Nearly 300 cards are known.

Homewood's 2nd and 3rd Main Issue coloured cards greatly resemble those produced by William Brooker around the same date, which also have blue skies grading downwards into pink. This may indicate that the two publishers shared the same printer, which in Homewood's case John Hurd has discovered was Sandle Brothers of Paternoster Row in East London. Homewood and Brooker seem to have tried to keep their sales territories distinct, but some overlap occurred, for example at Lewes.

Homewood's 4th Main Issue started to appear by October 1906 and was a mixture of new collotype cards and reprints of earlier cards. The cards are noticeably thicker than their predecessors. The backs are printed in red or orange (or, after about July 1908, in blue) and are labelled as before "A.H. Homewood, Burgess Hill, Sussex", but have a single dividing line replacing the pair of lines seen in previous issues. The instructions "This space may be used for Inland correspondence (Post Office Regulations)" and "The address to be written here" seen on the 2nd and 3rd Issues becomes "This space may be used for inland communication only (excepting to JAPAN & U.S.A.)" and "The address only to be written here". The captions are usually printed in red, but white lettering is found on a few cards.

The 5th Main Issue began to appear by October 1908, though many cards were reprints. The backs of the cards incorporate an elaborate logo of an old cottage framed by the words "A.H. Homewood Series" and "Burgess Hill Sussex." W.T. Gaines of Leeds published cards with a very similar logo, and Byatt suggests that either Gaines printed many of Homewood's cards or they both used the same artist to design the backs. Normally, 5th Main Issue cards have the cottage logo printed in blue and captions printed in red, but variants exist with the logo in brown, green or red (and with minor changes in wording etc.) and captions in white or black in several different type faces.

A variant of the 5th Main Issue is known with blue backs, a double dividing line and all the printing in the address space, stating "The opposite space may be used for correspondence to all countries with the exception of the U.S.A. & Japan", followed by "This space for Address only". The pictures have white captions. The cards, which were printed in Britain, were on sale by October 1908, and may have been a short-lived experiment.

The 5th Main Issue cards were preceded by a series of collotype cards printed in Germany that had black captions and backs printed in black without the cottage logo. Stevens refers to these cards as the "Black Captions Issue". They appeared a few months before the 5th Main Issue cards and are generally of superior quality. The pictures are varnished and the backs often have a distinctive typography, with the letter "A" in "POST CARD" having a strangely tilted cross bar. On other cards "POST CARD" is written in bold plain capitals.

Homewood issued numerous real photographic cards from 1905 onwards. Many used the same photographs as the halftones and coloured cards. The earliest real photographic cards were sepia toned; later ones were more obviously black and white but with a touch of sepia. On some cards the words "A.H. Homewood. Burgess Hill, Sussex" are printed vertically on the left side of the backs, but others have Homewood's name and address printed horizontally, as on the coloured cards. By 1917 Homewood was marketing cards with unusually large handwritten captions.

Stevens has catalogued 2130 Homewood cards of Sussex and believes that 130 more may exist. In East Sussex the Homewood "empire" reached as far east as Ewhurst, Stonegate, Hurst Green and Winchelsea. Stevens reports that Homewood also published cards of the Oxted, Brasted, Westerham and Edenbridge area of north-west Kent and south-east Surrey where his wife had relatives. Probably he had time during family reunions to slip away and take photographs of the area and visit retailers.

Homewood did not usually publish cards of "special events", but two well-known exceptions show the horse-drawn Royal Mail Parcel Post Coach ascending Clayton Hill on its last journey between London and Brighton on June 1, 1905 and the first journey of its replacement, the Parcel Post Motor Coach on June 2, filling up with petrol at Friar's Oak. Copyright applications now held by the National Archives establish that both photographs were the work of William George Wheatley of Fairfield Road, Burgess Hill.

Homewood was willing to arrange for cards to be printed for retailers using photographs either supplied by them or taken to order. In the case of the 3rd Main Issue, for example, he offered to supply 1000 cards of one view of the retailer's choice for 35 shillings (£1.75) or 6 views for 34 shillings (£1.70) or 12 views for 33 shillings (£1.65), which works out at less than 0.2p per card, leaving a wide margin for profit. Several retailers evidently took advantage of this offer because their names (for example, L. O. Saunders at Cross in Hand) are printed on the back of some 3rd Main Issue cards in place of Homewood's.

Homewood also produced real photographic cards to order, substituting the retailer's name and address for his own. The cards can offer all too few clues as to their real identity, but sometimes the backs are a useful pointer. For example, around 1910 Homewood used a distinctive type of back for his real photographic cards, which had fussy lettering and a trefoil design at the top of the dividing line. Only a few other publishers, such as Collograph, used these backs, and then only sparingly. Cards with these backs are very likely therefore to have been produced by Homewood even if they only carry a retailer's name. On other cards the lettering of the captions can be diagnostic.

According to Stevens, a few of Homewood's negatives survive, but most have disappeared.

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