|Pre-order the new Gwulo book today to get
special price, free shipping, signed copies, and a free sample
Details and how to order
Two splendid moustaches to celebrate the start of Movember :
What: The photos are each stuck on to thick cards, measuring 4 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches. This was the most popular format for portrait photos in the late 1800s, and was known as the Cabinet Card.
Where: The photos were taken at a photographer's studio, "Tin Wah" on Pottinger Street.
Who: I don't have any background information about these photos, so what can we find out about them?
They're clearly two different people:
But I don't know what the connection was between them. The photos' previous home was an antique shop in mid-Wales, so they could have been photos of relatives, sent back home to family in Wales. Or perhaps they were photos of friends, carried back home by the owner when he finished his service.
The older man is in civilian clothes, which makes identification more difficult. There's also the fact he's in a photographer's studio, so he might be wearing a combination of his own clothes and props supplied by the photographer.
The younger man is in uniform, so hopefully he is a better source of clues. Can a knowledgeable reader identify anything from his buttons?
When: The Cabinet Card was in use from the 1860s til the 1920s, but they were most common in the 1880s and 90s . Earlier cards used albumen photos, which typically have a colour tint to them. But these photos are closer to black & white, suggesting they were printed using a more modern process, and dating them to the 1890s or later .
I have't found any mentions of the Tin Wah studio yet, but if we could find which years it was in business, that will help narrow down the date.
Then fashions may give us more clues. First are those fine moustaches, and the slightly disturbing hairstyles:
Beards and sideburns were the order of the day for mid 19th-century men, but from the 1880s til the 1910s they were shaved away leavng just the moustache. Then in the 1910s the moustache fell out of favour, and the clean-shaven look was the norm .
How about the hairstyles? Is their any (polite!) name for the older man's hairstyle I can search for? Or was that something he'd made up all by himself?
One last clue is his shirt front, where the opening at the front doesn't run down to the waist. Can any fashion historians put a date on that?
The clues all point to a date around the turn of the century, so I'll guess 1900 for now. Corrections welcome!
Also on Gwulo.com this week:
- The Movember Foundation is a global charity, funding projects to improve men's health: https://hk.movember.com/
- History of the Cabinet Card: http://www.city-gallery.com/learning/types/cabinet_card/index.php
- A moustache timeline: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/men-and-their-moustaches/timeline