Sunday, 3 August 2008

Fraternal Organisations

Herbert Henry Vorley (1840-1880) worked as a photographer on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand from about 1867 until 1877. Various sources show him working in the townships of Charleston (1867 & 1873), Hokitika (1870) and Buller (1874 & 1877). Photographers often had second strings to their bow, usually to help make ends meets, and sometimes reflecting a profession which they had been involved in prior to taking up the portrait business. However, Vorley had a most unusual sideline - he was a phrenologist!

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

This carte de visite is a cameo head-and-shoulders portrait with an unusual frame, of a middle-aged man with a moustache and beard, wearing a jacket, bow-tie and a wide sash diagonally across his chest. It was taken in Charleston, possibly in the late 1860s or early 1870s, but the subject is unfortunately not identified.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

An enlargement of the sash with some digital enhancement does not make the design on it much clearer, but it appears to be an eight-pointed star. I suspect that he was a Freemason. The PhoenixMasonry web site has a display of a series of old cabinet cards of Knight Templars in full regalia. Several of these have very similar sashes to that worn by the man in the Vorley portrait.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The reverse of the card mount has a design typical of the late 1860s, comprising a coat of arms, angular scroll work, and what appears to be a design of a heart in a hand (see below). The heart-in-hand design originated with the Shakers, implying a loving welcome, but was also used by the Order of Odd Fellows. A similar symbol has been used by the Freemasons to represent charity. Displayed in this manner on the reverse of the card mount, it may have been a device used to signify that Vorley himself was a Freemason, and would therefore happily accept fellow members amongst his customers.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne


Auckland City Libraries Photographers Database

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