The baked mirror hoax

Found in Edmund Gosse’s 1894 edition of Hazlitt’s Conversations with James Northcote R.A. (Bentley, London  1894) this amusing prank. The name MynHeer might have been a warning… This would  have been well before the birth of photography – Hazlitt wrote the book in 1830. For more on the great Northcote (self portrait below) see  his Wikipedia page.




Northcote told an anecdote of Sir George Beaumont**, 

to show the credulity of mankind. When a young man 

lie put an advertisement in the papers, to say that a

Mynheer , just come over from Germany, had found out

 a method of taking a likeness much superior to any 

other by the person’s looking into a mirror and having 

the glass heated so as to bake the impression. He stated 

this wonderful artist to live at a perfumer’s shop in Bond 

Street, opposite to an hotel where he lodged, and amused 

himself the next day to see the numbers of people who 

flocked to have their likenesses taken in this surprising 

manner. At last he went over himself to ask for

Monsieur , and was driven out of the shop by the

perfumer in a rage, who said there was no Monsieur

nor Monsieur Devil lived there.

 **’Possibly Sir George Baker, the Devonshire physician, famous for his successful raid against the leaden vessels used for cider-mking’ (Edmund Gosse’s note)

Beware—-Lady Decorators at Work !!

Here is one of four press photographs from the Photopress agency showing the same group of female house decorators performing various tasks. The other photographs depict two decorators limning Georgian panelling in a ‘West End mansion ‘, painting exterior window frames at the rear of another Georgian house by means of a ladder, while a third shows paint being mixed. This particular shot of three painters white washing a plaster ceiling while standing on two very precarious looking duckboards would probably horrify our Health and Safety jonnies. Back in the early 1930s, when these photos were probably taken, Risk Assessment Reports were sixty years into the future.
A slightly  sexist comment typed on the back of the Georgian panelling photo by some agency worker is worth examining:

Many of the big houses and mansions in the West End are now in the hands of decorators. At some of the houses woman decorators are busy on the job of working with effecientcy (sic) that expert decorators would find hard to beat.