Although no information was supplied when this photograph was purchased from a Seattle area (Washington state) seller in 2010, we have been able to determine by additional photographic attribution that it depicts the former Hunstanton Pier, an 830′  Victorian era structure formerly located in Norfolk, England on the North Sea. Although titled Night on the mount, this was clearly intended an example of artistic license, as the sun is clearly seen obscured by dark clouds in this view. Close examination reveals figures on the pier, a sailboat behind it and three figures standing on the beach on the right side of the frame. The remaining elaborate mounting of the photograph (verso adhesive residue indicates an additional missing mount support) suggests it was intended for exhibition or competition, and I would date the work  circa 1895-1905  based on the mount style. Other than census and trade directory records, little is known of commercial photographer May Bone’s (1876-1961) early and later life, who was born in Norfolk, based on her baptism/christening date of July 2, 1876. (1.)

According to The British Journal of Photography, the English photographer May Bone would have began her career as a commercial photographer sometime around 1905, as an early 1931 article stated she had completed 25 years in business. (2.)  At the time of the article, her studio was located in Market Place in Peterborough. The same publication from 1907 lists her as being the owner of or affiliated with the Norfolk Studio on Norwich Road in Fakenham. (3.) A listing of English seaside photographers on the Great Yarmouth & District Photographic Society website also lists Bone as being affiliated with the Rembrandt Studio, located at  “Beach Terrace and Pier Gate”. (4.) It would seem from the following description that Bone photographed tourists and visitors to the pier which first opened in 1870:  “Miss Bone took promenade photos that were presented in postcard format and bore the address “May Bone’s Kiosk.” (5.)

Another definitive resource by English photographic historian Robert Pols uses the source material of annual Norfolk trade directories to chronicle Bone’s early career, with the first mention coming in 1904. The following list compiled on her studio addresses are from Pols’ website Early Photographic Studios– the prefix KN denoting listings from Kelly’s Norfolk trade directories:

BONE, Miss May


Norwich Street/Road, Fakenham
KN1904, KN1908, KN1912, KN1916

Beach Terrace, Hunstanton

Red Lion Street, Aylsham ,

Pier Gate, Hunstanton
KN1912, KN1916

Station Road, Fakenham
AN1916   (Aubrey’s Norfolk directory)

The website listing gives additional background on Bone:

“Miss Bone’s Hunstanton operation aimed for a share of the holiday market. The business took promenade photos that were presented in postcard format and bore the address ‘May Bone’s Kiosk, Hunstanton’. Photo historian Paul Godfrey believes that she was one of the earliest photographers to produce ‘walkie’ pictures. She also ran studios in Peterborough in the years after the First World War.”  (6.)

Paul Godfrey, who has been compiling details on United Kingdom commercial seaside photographers for the Great Yarmouth & District Photographic Society website, provides the following additional details for May Bone:

For the 1891 UK census, May Bone, aged 14 years, is living on Norwich Road in Fakenham. One of eight children of Richard, her father making his occupation as a watchmaker and jeweler and mother Emma, she is listed as being a photographer’s apprentice. In the 1901 UK census, May Bone’s occupation is listed as being a photographer.

1929:  Kelly’s Norfolk trade directory has a listing under Photographers for Miss May Bone: she is in business along with Miss Carrie Bone, possibly her sister, operating the Hogarth Studio on High Street in Hunstanton. Carrie Bone is four years older than May, listed as being a draper’s assistant in the 1891 UK census.

1937:  Kelly’s Norfolk lists Miss May Bone and Miss Carrie Bone as continuing to operate their Hogarth Studio in Hunstanton.

1961:  UK death records indicate May Bone died in September (Fakenham) at 85 years of age.  (7.)


1. England Births and Christenings: May Bone: 02  Jul 1876: genealogy website accessed 2012. Bone’s father was Richard Hubbard Bone
2. ‪The British Journal of Photography‬, volume 78: January 9, 1931: p. 17
3. Photographs Registered: in: The British Journal of Photography: volume 54: January 18, 1907: p. 54
4. Miss May Bone: Seaside Photographers: Great Yarmouth & District Photographic Society website: accessed: 2012
5. Ibid
6. Robert Pols: Early Photographic Studios website accessed 2012
7. email correspondence between Paul Godfrey and PhotoSeed site owner David Spencer: March, 2012.

Original copy for this entry posted to Facebook on March 14, 2012:

Shedding some light on “Night” is a recent victory. Self-induced motivational handwriting analysis turned “Max” to “May”, and we now have the pleasure of bringing you another old photograph and its’ creator attention they deserve. May Bone, an English commercial photographer who spent a good chunk of her career photographing tourists-otherwise known as folks on holiday- visiting the seaside town of Hunstanton and specifically its’ Victorian “pleasure pier”-took this very uncommon and decidedly artistic silhouette view of a landmark surviving now in memory only.


Image Dimensions10.0 x 16.7 cm

Support Dimensions11.4 x 20.7 cm | 17.0 x 21.5 cm