Henry Dunbar based his business in a premises on O’Connell Street which had a long association with the photographic trade. Between 1859 and 1890, number 39 was the building from which Thomas Millard ran his photographic studio. Firstly in partnership as Simonton & Millard; then for a short period in the 1860s trading solely as Thomas Millard and finally working with J.V. Robinson between 1864 and 1889.
Mr Dunbar’s business was not as long-lasting. He appears at this address for the first time in 1889 and died on the 13th December 1905 at the age of 54. The winding-up of his affairs was conducted by his son, Arthur Dunbar, who was a resident of Regent’s Square, York.
I know little more about Dunbar, except that his early adoption of the name O’Connell Street rather than Sackville Street is an indicator of nationalist leanings. In late 1884, the largely nationalist Dublin Corporation had voted to re-name the city’s main thoroughfare in honour of Daniel O’Connell, the champion of Catholic Emancipation. This was not to the liking of the majority of the street’s traders who got a court order preventing the name change. Dunbar was, of course, making a political point by his use of the street’s new name!
The verso of the cabinet card is nicely executed and alludes to the artistic nature of photography. The ‘photographer as artist’ is displayed alongside some typical studio props. This generic design was probably purchased from France or Germany which is where most photographers sourced their card backs.
The photograph itself provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of work during the period. Certain details are typical of Victorian or Edwardian tradesman, for example, the apron and white shirt sleeves. Most wear hats and have impressive moustaches. I love the individual who is posed in the act of ‘hammering’ a basket! Baskets were used to house and transport a wide variety of goods and as late as 1924, Dublin street directories listed nine basket-makers in the centre of the city.