Hertfordshire Postcard Artists, Photographers, Publishers, etc.

M & A Austin

of St  Albans, 1900-1914

Mary Elizabeth Austin was born in Clerkenwell in 1872 and her sister Amy Caroline Austin was born there in 1876. Their father John James Austin was an accountant who lived at 75 Holywell Hill, and moved to St Albans with his family in 1891 and lived ther until his death  in 1910.


In the 1891 census Mary was described as a "Teacher of Music", as a "Photographer" in 1901 and as a "Photographic Artist" in 1911. Her sister was described as a "Photographer" in 1901 and in 1911 was a patient at Mackonochie House, Bognor, where her occupation was given as "artist". They are listed in trade directories in 1906 and 1914 but not in 1902 (when their father was listed at 75 Holywell Hill) or in 1917.

ANNESLEY EXHIBITION. An Anneasley exhibition at the School of Art. tenable for two years, has been awarded to Miss Mary Austin, of 75, Holywell-hill, St. Albans. Miss Austin is entitled to attend the whole of the Evening Art Classes in connection with the School without payment of fees. It will cbe remembered that the late Mr, George Annesley left sum of money to the Institution, and it has been decided to utilise it in providing two exhibitions, the second of which will be compiled for next year.

Herts Advertiser 29 October, 1898


The Misses M. & A. Austin are listed as photographers in St Albans in the 1908, 1912 and 1914 Kelly's Directories for Hertfordshire. In 1918 the sisters were living at 15 High Street, Biggleswade, and they were both still recorded as being there in 1932. The move to Biggleswade is confirmed by the following entry in the Biggleswade Chronicle:

Well Done! By various schemes and means including the sale of post cards, etc.. Miss Austin. of 15. High Street, has raised sufficient money to purchase 116 pairs of boots and shoes for the Church of England Homes for Waifs and Strays. The boots have been sent to the Home, and from the Matron, the promoter the effort has received a nice letter of thanks.

On 13th December 1918 the paper reported:

BIGGLESWADE. The Misses Austin have opened a neat little fancy shop at 15, High Street, in aid of the Church of England Homes for Waifs and Strays, and by other special efforts, such as children’s emblem sales, they are endeavouring to raise funds for the furnishing of two sick wards at the Home for Girls at Ashburnham Road, Bedford. They appear likely to meet with success.

I have seen no evidence that they continued to act as photographers at Biggeslwade. In 1931 Amy was listed as living on her own in Flat 8, Victoria Court, King's Avenue, Clapham, S W 4, and was still there in 1939.


Child with kittens, by Austin, photographer, St Albans, circa 1903

Playmates No 42 - Back circa 1903 - Printed in Germany


While at St Albans they clearly produced a series of art photo post cards showing children and cats and the following titles have been identified on the web:

1   Fantails [pigeons - posted 1906]
2   A Knight Harbinger
3   Right Away [Cats]
4?   So Comfy [Cats posted 1906]
5   Cats - Who Did It?
11   I'm down on my luck
12   Sweep yer snow away?
25   "S!!!!!!!" [kitten & 2 pups]
31   The Sunny Side of Life
38   Love Me, Love My Dog
41   The Little Gardener
42   Playmates
46   Her Mother's Voice [kitten & violin]
52   The Forty Thieves [Cats]
56   Childhood's Trust  [posted 1906]
59   Two Pairs of Twins [Cats]
60   Fur, Feather and Fish [posted 1906]
62   A Well Filled Hamper
67   My Fiancé! [Cat & Dog]
68   I really can't kiss him [Cat & Dog]
76   Wild Roses
104   We finish the Letter for Home [Cats]
131   An Elf

The Sorrows of Satan [kitten]

157   The Motor Race (Speed Limit) [kittens & tortoises]

Beauty Unadorned [Cat]

The Romantic Love Story of Blackie & Beauty

A series of 12 cards [Cats]



The Proposal , Shall it be 'Yes'


There are three examples of their photographs in the St Albans Museum collection of pictures:

An engraving of a portrait photograph of their brother, John James Austin, a volunteer in the Boer War, appears in the Herts Advertiser of 17 February, 1900.


St Albans Pageant - Herts Advertiser 20 July 1907


Who Did it?

No 3


Tell Me

 if you can supply details (and possibly scans) of other examples of work by these photographers.

January  2013   Page created
February 2013   Cards 42 and 62 added
March 2013   Names added for cards 11 ...
August 2013   More card titles added
December 2013   Title of No 1 added from ebay advert
February 2014   The Sunny Side of Life No 31
June 2015   Titles of 67 & 68
July 2015   CDV
March 2019   Information on move to Biggleswade

CDV by M & A Austin


Cabinet card by M & A Austin


"An Elf"  No. 131

(back not before 1906)

Published by M & A Austin, St Albans

Printed in Germany


Child in wicker hamper, by Austin, photographer, St Albans, circa 1903

A Well Filled Hamper  No 62

back circa 1903

printed in Germany


CHild Post Card by M & A Austin, St Albans

I'm down on my luck - No 11


The Sunny Side of Life - Art Post Card by Austin, St Albans

The Sunny Side of Life - No 31