Friday, 4 January 2013

Back to square one, possibly...

Firstly, welcome to my new follower Counting Pennies.

Below is the report from the clothing historian, on the photograph mentioned in my previous post. Just to make life easier, I shall put the photograph here as well.

"The formal, accomplished pose of this scene indicates that it was taken by a skilled professional photographer but it is not set in a studio. The surroundings suggest that the location is a domestic garden, so this family must have made an appointment for a representative from a local studio to visit them at home.

Here we see two men and two ladies, and in a mixed group like this it is invariably the appearance of the ladies that provides the most helpful picture dating clues. Women’s hairstyles and clothing styles changed regularly in the past, although these ladies are middle-aged and therefore are likely to be dressed rather conservatively. They both wear the plain tailored skirts and blouses typical of the early 20th century, the off-the-floor, ankle length of their skirts confirming a date at least in the late-Edwardian era. The blouse on the right still displays the high neckline of the early-1900s, which older ladies retained well into the 1910s. The lady on the left wears a distinctive layered style of blouse or bodice which is easier to pinpoint and would usually suggest a date range of c.1909-1914. However, she is unlikely to be in the very forefront of fashion, so perhaps we should add a year or so and date this photograph to c.1910-16 – a time frame that should cover all likely years.

The oldest member of this group is the very elderly gentleman seated on a chair and smartly dressed in a three-piece lounge suit and semi-formal bowler hat. He could perhaps be the husband of the lady on the left, although I have a feeling that he is probably from an earlier generation – probably the father of some, or all, of these other people. Clearly a special occasion prompted this professional photograph and this may have been the elderly man’s 80th or even 90th birthday. He must have been born in around the 1820s or 1830s, while I would guess the others were born perhaps in the mid-19th century or soon after. I hope that the time frame and these suggestions will help you to firmly identify this family group photograph taken a century ago.

That really throws a spanner in the works as the chap sitting down, who we had hoped was my great, great grandfather, died in 1895 aged 68. From an age point of view, it could be him, but not according to the historian.

I still feel it is to do with that side of the family as it came in a small batch of photographs (most of the others were written on – typical!), from my grandfathers estate. The rest of the 8 or so photographs, are all of my mum and her sister, or my grandfather and grandmother, plus two older ones which we thought was their parents (one of which has since been confirmed as such).

This is driving us nuts. We have looked at all the many configurations of who they could be and so far, cannot draw any conclusions. When I thanked her for her work and mentioned the dates, she did wonder if the seated chap was my great grandfather when he was old (died 1931) and the other people, 3 of his children.

That is a possibility but both the women are wearing wedding bands and only one daughter married that we know off. Plus, if it was my great grandfather, he would only be 60. Even allowing for being out in the sun all day as a gardener, would he have looked this old at 60?

Any ideas anyone? Does anyone have any family photographs from 1895 as well as 1910, taken of their ancestors who lived in a rural location, as a comparison?

1 comment:

  1. I would have thought the lady behind him was his wife especially the way she holds the back of his chair. They don't like massively far apart agewise. How lovely to see anyway. Good luck with it.
    Sarah x


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