The seller didn't include much detail for this photo, so we'll have to make do with a bit of guesswork. If you can add anything to the story, please let us know in the comments below.
Who: Certainly not a bunch of tourists, they're several of the ship's crew, having their photo taken as they visit Hong Kong. There's quite a range of ages, the three oldest men in the centre of the photo, and much younger men around them.
Most of them are wearing very grey and grubby-looking clothes. Are they the stokers, covered with coal dust from shovelling coal into the ship's boilers?
With all that grey, the chinese man stands out in his white cook's jacket:
He's also the only one with a smile - happy to be back home to Hong Kong after a long trip overseas? I bought this photo from a seller in the USA, suggesting that's where the ship and its crew operated from.
The other man in a clean shirt is the one on the right:
He's different in other ways too:
A comparison with the man standing next to him shows he's got much cleaner hands. He's the only one in the group with polished shoes, and it looks as though he's holding a pencil. Maybe he's from a senior part of the crew? Then what about the frayed ends to his trousers? Are they just his working clothes, or is he short of money - or both?
When: I'll guess the first quarter of the twentieth century, but if you can see any clues from their clothing or the surroundings, please let us know. Here's the back of the postcard, which unfortunately shows us almost nothing:
You can see the photo has been ripped from a photo album. Also that this was sold as a postcard, made by sticking a photograph on the front of a pre-printed card. That's different from the other photo-postcards we've seen, where the photo was developed on special photographic paper, already pre-printed with postcard markings. For that reason I'll guess this comes from nearer to 1900 than 1925.
Where: There's a sea wall in the background, but the ship isn't tied up against it. Instead I think the ship is tied up to a pier at right-angles to the main sea wall. That suggests Kowloon Wharves. Can anyone recognise the buildings in the background?
What: From the curve of the deck, I guess we're looking at the stern of the ship. From their height, it looks to be a large ship too. Hopefully some of the shipping experts reading this can spot other clues about what we're looking at.
PS A couple of dates for your diary:
- London: Next Tuesday, 17th Jan I'll be in London, and will meet with a few Gwulo readers for lunch. Come along and join us if you're free. Click for details.
- Hong Kong: This Saturday, 14th Jan there's a guided walk around Hong Kong Cemetery with all proceeds to charity. Click for details.