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Charles Gaudin

Charles Jacques Emmanuel Gaudin (March 18, 1825 – March 7, 1905) was born in a family of a cognac merchant.

He was a younger brother of Marc-Antoine Gaudin and Alexis Gaudin.

He first came to Paris in mid 1840-ies to work at the establishment of his brother Alexis and was in charge of making daguerreotype plates. He soon (presumably around 1846) founded his own daguerreotype establishment with Antoine François Gustave Orengo which lasted for about a year. In 1851 Charles was again employed by his brother Alexis in his daguerreotype business.

Charles got interested in the stereoscope soon after its invention by Brewster. He patented an improved stereoscope of his own design in 1854. In 1855 he and Alexis formed a company under the name “Alexis Gaudin et frère”.

The company was created for the term of 6 years and in the beginning of 1861 Charles opened an enterprise under his own name initially at no. 117, Boulevard de Sėbastopol, and then at no. 131 on the same street. Already in 1861 his company became a sole distributor for the London Stereoscopic Company. The same year he also struck a deal to exclusively print photographs from the clichés of James Eliott. Although stereoscopes and stereographs were the main occupation of the firm, it also dealt in carte-de-visite, albums, frames, photographic chemistry and other goods related to the field of photography.

In September 1864 Charles bought the business of Alexis Gaudin including the magazine La Lumiere and settled at rue de la Perle, 9. The same year he agreed to exclusively distribute the photographs of William England in Europe. In July 1865 Charles acquired the collection of one of the major stereograph manufacturers Pierre-Henri-Amand Lefort (at the time managed by Paul Nicolas Deverdun, the son-in-law of Lefort). In 1867 Charles took part in the Paris Industrial Exhibition. In August of 1869 Charles published a new collection of views of the Palestine.

In March 1872, soon after the end of the Franco-Prussian war and the fall of the Paris Commune, a court in Paris ordered liquidation of the business. Charles was able to sign an agreement with his creditors for a postponement of payments, but lasted for only about a year, before a court finally ordered the liquidation of his business in October 1873. Criminal proceedings were started against the owner and Charles fled to London. After bankruptcy, the business was taken over by one of his employees, Leopold Levy, who practiced at the same address, 9, rue de la Perle until bankruptcy in November 1880.

As for Charles, he reappeared in London in 1874 as a practicing photographer for a couple of years. He probably continued to live in Britain for another 15 years under the name of Belcour. Towards 1890 he returned to France. Charles Gaudin died on the 7th of March, 1905.

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