I have heard it suggested that they were intended to be pasted on other things, sewing-boxes and the like, which may be true, but I think they were simply intended as mementoes, or perhaps as what Wood called ‘conversation cards’, most obviously to be stuck in a scrap-books.
I have not been able to trace the exact record of his birth, but Joseph Thomas Wood was born in Wapping in London’s East End in or about 1811. Wood himself I have traced is his marriage to Sarah Edgington at St. A son, Joseph Robert, was born in Holborn in 1836, at which time Joseph Thomas Wood was described as a copperplate-printer, evidently his original occupation.His rather younger brother, John Andrew Wood, was born in 1823, the names of the Wood parents then recorded as William and Maria, but the interval of time may suggest that Maria was a second wife. He was still so described on the 1841 Census, by which time his brother had become an apprentice at the family home at 9 Curriers’ Hall Court, London Wall.It was also in 1841 that we find his earliest recorded publication, a small broadside printed in gold on black paper, offering A Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving for the birth of the new Prince of Wales, later to become Edward VII.Wood was clearly experimenting both with a burgeoning market in this kind of printed ephemera and with more exotic and fanciful methods of printing.I occasionally come across these little mid-nineteenth-century engraved views of London landmarks, measuring about six inches by just over four and half, and published by J. I have also seen it described as ‘metallic card’, but I now learn that Wood himself called it ‘enamel card’ or ‘enamelled card’, as did the man who made it for him, so there is one correction to the record to be made.
They are generally printed on what I have tended to describe as ‘glazed card’.
The subjects are often popular ones, not always restricted to London, the design and engraving highly competent (if no more), and I do not charge a great deal for them, but the cards only sell slowly, if at all.
Condition can be problematic: the cards tend to brown or blacken towards the outer edges and often suffer from slight surface abrasion, leading to some weakening and fading of the image.
Even where this is not the case, few of my customers appear actively to like them.
There is also a difficulty in explaining what they were for.
They were obviously separately published and not intended as book illustrations (although sometimes catalogued as if they were).