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An Abacus Seller, St Petersburg
9.4 x 5.7 cm
National Galleries of Scotland
Acc. No. PGP 81.2
(Curatorial caption, accessed 23 November 2014)
As in other European capitals, portrait photography in St Petersburg was a fiercely competitive business; more difficult still for the absence of a large Russian middle class, a comparative lack of sunlight and the high cost of materials. To boost the income of his St Petersburg studio, Carrick conceived of the idea of a series of 'Russian types', produced for the tourist market in the form of small cartes de visite. These photographs, largely of street vendors, helped satisfy the curiosity of the public about the character of Russia's itinerant peasants. This photograph is of a young abacus seller. An abacus is a calculation tool, consisting of a wooden frame with beads sliding on metal wires and is still used in Russian shops and markets today.