HK Artillery

Wed, 01/13/2016 - 15:52

Photo courtesy of David Mahoney:

Inscribed on the reverse: 'An officer in the Hong Kong Artillery', 'Bates of 264 High Holborn no 9157'

Maybe someone has information on this chap?

Date picture taken


William Bates (born 1826, Coventry-14th June 1904, Chertsey) was a photographer, artist, painter, sketcher. He operated out of 264 High Holborn from 1860-1876, so this should give an idea of the date range of the photo. 

Given the body habitus of the chap, I think his artillery days of Hong Kong were long gone. So if this studio photo was taken in London, the photographer used the young Chinese boy effectively as a prop to show the sitter’s link to the Far East! 

This photo is a carte de visite. The early cardboard mounts had square corners when produced in the 1860s. The rounded corners were introduced in the 1870s. The other clue is the serial number ‘9157’. A number of Bates’ High Holborn studio shots go up to 5 digits through a casual search of the internet. These clues suggest this photo was taken in the 1860s.

These photos can take several minutes with the subject remaining still to prevent blurring but by 1860 the exposure time was potentially down to 30 seconds. So with this chap's elevated body mass index I can understand his preference to be sat down for the photo shoot. The young lad can stand statue still whilst the photo was taken but his furrowed brows suggest he had better things to do.