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Early Images and Photographs

The search for early race results also means looking for supporting images. And for almost all of this period the only images were hand-drawn - since for most of this time cameras could not stop movement even in daylight. However some of the drawings produced were incredibly detailed - as in this engraving by Samuel Begg of a Six-Day race at the London Aquarium in 1896 [Thanks to the six-day fan who sent this version in].

Begg_London_1896

By the mid 1890’s cameras were improving and the public interest in sport was growing.  And a new breed of sports photographers and reporters had already appeared to document the booming appetite for sport news. At first the photographs had to be posed in a studio but by the early 1900’s it was becoming technically possible to record sports action - at least outdoors.

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Still static poses at the “Course de Paris-Roubaix, Depart des Amateurs, 18-Apr-1897” - by Jules Beau

 

And while collecting material for this web site it became obvious that one particular photographer was a key figure and the main contributor to the surviving photographic archive.

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Studio shot - “Lisette Recordwoman des 100km sur route 1894 and 1895” by Jules Beau - Tome [Album] 1 - years 1894/1895

That photographer was Jules Beau.

During the period 1894 to 1913 Beau covered many sports - but it is the cycling that stands out during his early years.

Beau stored sample prints of his work in albums and these were passed to the Touring-Club de France before becoming part of the national collection. At the time of writing the Jules Beau Photographic Collection at Gallica runs to some 36 online albums.

These albums contain many unique images of top cyclists from that era - riders famous on both road and track. The only downside for British fans is that his work was Paris based; so did not include most of the British six day riders, who generally went west to ride in the USA. But the Linton brothers appear through their rides on the road and at the Buffalo Velodrome. As do the French ladies who raced at the London Aquarium. But nothing of the other riders (or by then ex-riders) competing on the British Six Day circuit.

Beau lived until 1932 by which time sports photography had made huge strides. But it is the quality of those early prints that brings the past to life much more than simply through the printed word.

JulesBeauCard

 

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