Friday, 23 August 2013

Sepia Saturday 191: The "Soup, Soap and Salvation" Brigade

Sepia Saturday with Marilyn Brindley and Alan Burnett

The image prompt for Sepia Saturday this week is a cased daguerreotype of a man and two women, possibly taken in the 1850s or 1860s. Rather than giving another example of a similarly framed image, which I did a couple of months ago (Gem Tintypes, Preservers and Wing's Multiplying Camera), I went off in search of bonnets.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified woman and girls, c.1915-1935
Postcard portrait by unknown photographer
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

This postcard portrait is from at least half a century later, but the woman's bonnet is surprisingly little changed in design. Comparison with a wonderful selection of late 19th century portraits at the Cabinet Card Gallery (here and here) confirmed my suspicion that the bonnet worn by the woman at centre indentifies her as being a supporter of the "soup, soap and salvation" brigade. I don't mean to be either flippant or derogatory; that is how founder William Booth himself described The Salvation Army's approach to meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the poor.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The tiny badge at her throat is just identifiable as The Salvation Army's well known red shield, still in use as their emblem in fundraising activities today. The New Zealand Salvation Army web site gives the following history of their distinctive uniform:
By 1880, a standardised Salvation Army navy blue serge uniform was introduced. Men wore high neck tunics with stiff collars over scarlet jerseys. Women wore long navy skirts and close fitting high neck tunics with white lace-edge collars. Catherine Booth chose black straw bonnets for the women to wear that were cheap, durable and protective. A band of black silk and strings formed the trimmings, and later a red band was added with 'Salvation Army' on it.

Uniforms have changed over the years to suit changing styles as well as culture and climate. Up until recently, women continued to wear a smaller version of the Victorian bonnet. Most countries around the world are now adopting the less-expensive felt bowler hat. An open-neck jacket also replaced the high-collar tunics.
I had hoped that developments in uniform styles might aid in dating the portrait sitting, but I don't think they've changed enough to narrow down the date range any more than one can with other aspects of the photograph.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The postcard format printed on the reverse, for example, is not marked with any photographer's studio, but is of a style commonly used by many studios from the mid-1910s until the early 1930s (see examples from Derbyshire photographers: Pollard Graham, Type 38, F. Holbrook, W.N. Statham and E.M. Treble).

Image © and courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph
Girl Guide uniforms 1910-1970, Lord Mayor's Show, Belfast, 15 May 1977
Image © and courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph

The two girls in the portrait are not junior Salvationists but, I believe, Girl Guides. According to Wikipedia:
Girls were attracted to Scouting from its inception in 1907 ... In 1909, Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, decided that girls should not be in the same organisation as the boys, and the Girl Guides were founded in the UK in 1910.
I was fortunate to find this photograph of a parade in which girl guides displayed a complete range of uniforms used between 1910 and 1970. Although there were, no doubt, innumerable regional variations the girls in the postcard portrait apopear to be dressed most similarly to the 1910 model. Geoff Caulton has a very interesting page on Girl Guide uniforms on his PhotoDetective web site, demonstrating several useful dating pointers which reinforce my feeling that our girls are from roughly 1910-1920ish.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Barbara Payne in Girl Guide uniform, c. 1943-1945
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The two decades between the World Wars saw a swift rise in the popularity of the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts. Princess Mary became President of the Association in 1920, and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret as a Guide and Brownie respectively in 1937, which must have enhanced the appeal of the organisation tremendously. Kodak Ltd even produced a Girl Guide Kodak camera from 1931 to 1935. This small portrait of my aunt pictures her in a later girl guide uniform from the mid-1940s. Unfortunately the image is not distinct enough for me to discern the design on the badge, which would indicate the name of her troop.

Image © & courtesy of Barry Muir
Millicent Lydia "Lissa" Grace, c. 1926
Postcard portrait by A.W. Woodmansee of Bold Lane, Derby
Image © & courtesy of Barry Muir

Lastly, I'd like to highlight another feature of the postcard portrait, even though it's not much use for dating purposes. Vignetting is the term used to describe the deliberate masking out of the margins of a photographic portrait, often leaving an oval-shaped frame with blurred edges around the central figure. This was used by studios from the earliest days of carte de visite prints in the 1860s, the borders usually being lighter than the photograph. From the late 1890s and early 1900s, a variation of this technique produced a dark horizontal band on the lower edge of the portrait, appearing in front of the subject, as in the mid-1920s portrait above. Use of this feature in studio portraits was most common throught the 1910s and 1920s, after which it just as suddenly faded from popularity.


The Salvation Army, from Wikipedia

Why we wear a uniform, from The Salvation Army in New Zealand, Fiji & Tonga Territory

Twenties and Thirties • Girl Guides on Geoff Caulton's PhotoDetective web pages.

History of Guiding, from the Girlguiding web page

Friday, 16 August 2013

Sepia Saturday 190: Come into the Garden Maud

Sepia Saturday with Marilyn Brindley and Alan Burnett

The difficulty with providing an image for use as a Sepia Saturday prompt, particularly one that you've used previously, is that it's a little trickier to produce an interesting follow on article. Hence I'm going off on a somewhat different tack this week. Feel free to play the embedded sound track while you're reading, and it will hopefully provide an appropriate background to the photos.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Unidentified couple and baby with garden tent, c.1893-1898
Cabinet card (roughly trimmed) by unidentified photographer
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Come into the garden, Maud,
For the black bat, Night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
I am here at the gate alone;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
And the musk of the roses blown.

For a breeze of morning moves,
And the planet of Love is on high,
Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
On a bed of daffodil sky,
To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
To faint in his light, and to die.

Maud; A Monodrama
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

When Alfred - for surely that must be his name - charmed Maud with those silken words, it seems unlikely that he envisaged such an outcome: tea with Maud, but also a very alert baby, and a photographer in attendance to record the event. He is not amused!

The Miller house, shop and post office, c.1905-1910
Image republished from old postcard by unknown publisher

It wasn't just the faintly ridiculous pose which attracted me to the cabinet card, purchased on eBay, but also the tent. It is similar to one just visible in this image of the Weston Underwood garden of my great-great-grandparents John and Eliza Miller. When I last used this image, in the story of John's father James Miller, drainage man, I suggested that the tent might have been "used as a children's playhouse." Perhaps they were a common appearance in late Victorian and Edwardian gardens, and primarily protected tea drinkers from the harsh summer sun?

For more picnics and garden gatherings, please pay a visit to the 190th edition of Sepia Saturday.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Sepia Saturday 189: Ode to the Rickshaw-wallah

Sepia Saturday with Marilyn Brindley and Alan Burnett

This week I'll take you globe-trotting once again. While I suspect you'll be treated to a myriad of contraptions powered by the internal combustion engine by other Saturday Sepians, I'm choosing to use a more environmentally friendly, if not particularly pc, means of transport.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Jinnirickshaw, undated probably c.1880s, unidentified photographer
Albumen print (141 x 95mm) mounted on printed card (155 x 112mm)
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

This mounted albumen print of a non-standard format was purchased on a whim, partly because it's a well composed and exposed photograph of an interesting subject, representing a way of life that's pretty much disappeared, but also because it doesn't merely reinforce the colonial stereotype of white sahib being conveyed from one shady verandah to another by a rickshaw-wallah.

Judging from the style of print and mount, I estimate that it was probably printed in the 1880s or 1890s, and I think it may have been taken somewhere in the Indian sub-continent. The printed text at lower left appears to relate to the subject, rather than the photographer or publisher, and suggests that the photograph may have been produced in some numbers. Indeed, I found another copy of the image here, dated 1895.

The derivation of jinnirickshaw is suggested by The Free Dictionary to be from three Middle Chinese words, jin (person), lik (strength) and chai (vehicle) via the Japanese word jinrikisha. My Concise Oxford Dictionary states that the variety of spellings one finds are archaic forms of the more familiar rickshaw, which they define as a:
Light two-wheeled hooded vehicle, drawn by one or more persons.
Wikipedia claims, quite plausibly, that the rickshaw is thought to have been invented in Japan in 1869 after the removal of a ban on wheeled vehicles during the Tokugawa period. After a popularity explosion in that country, it spread quickly to other Asian countries, being introduced to India around 1880.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Kingwell in a rickshaw, Durban, South Africa, c.1920s
Souvenir postcard portrait by unidentified photographer
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Although the popularity of hand-pulled rickshaws waned in the Third World throughout the twentieth century, particularly after the Second World War, there was one country where this mode of transport took on a life of its own. South Africa's first rickshaws were imported into Natal in 1892 and within a decade had become the main mode of transportation, with over 2000 of them in Durban's streets. Gallery Ezakwantu tells a fascinating and well illustrated story of how the rickshaw puller's simple, unadorned calico uniforms and traditional Zulu feathered, bovine-horned headwear have evolved, over time, into outrageous enormous multi-horned headdresses and costumes spectacularly decorated with beads, sheepskins and a variety of other accessories.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

An example of one such Zulu rickshaw puller with his conveyance and a client is pictured in the postcard above, probably taken in a makeshift outdoors studio on Durban's waterfront some time in the 1920s. The scene somewhat clumsily painted on the backdrop is easily identifiable as Durban's sweeping beachfront, with The Bluff forming a backdrop to the harbour entrance, as this Streetview shows. The message handwritten on the back of the postcard merely identifies the occupant of the rickshaw as "Kingwell," presumably a surname. I feel that the uniform he is wearing is possibly merchant marine, or perhaps from a colonial administration, but I haven't been able to pin it down.

"Rickshaw Boys" - Durban, South Africa
Postcard by unidentified publisher, posted 1966

In early 1968 my family had an extended holiday in South Africa, photos in the family albums showing that we spent time in Potchefstroom, Simonstown, Bredasdorp, Durban and Umhlanga Rocks. The only memory of that trip that remains with me is an extremely vivid one of the rickshaw drivers on the Durban waterfront. By that time their costumes, and their playing-up-to-the-tourists antics, were probably at their most extravagant. Unfortunately I don't have a family photograph to go with it, which reinforces my idea that it is a real memory rather than one prompted by later tales of the event related by my parents. In my mind's eye, however, they looked very much like the three posing for this mid-1960s postcard.

An excerpt from a 1967 article in the New Age provides a taste of the experience to be expected:
As pictorial attractions for tourists go probably no city in the world would care to challenge Durban ... at the spin of a 20c piece ... some 15 Zulu ricksha boys, who ply their trade along the sweeping Durban Esplanade between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. ... offer outstanding value. They out-Twiggy Twiggy with the number and variety of their poses ... [take] a swing along the sea shore ... [and] spread their regalia like peacocks.
As a six year-old country boy who had never come across anything like this in my life, I was terrified and absolutely refused to go near it. When one of my parents and my younger sister Diana went off down the Esplanade for a ride, complete with the see-sawing, twirling gyrations and strange chants of the "driver," I was convinced I would never see them again. I suspect tears ensued although time, thankfully, has wiped those from my memory.

Image © and collection of Brett PayneImage © and collection of Brett Payne
Bud Payne, Durban or Umhlanga, 4 April 1968
Photomatic photobooth portrait (65 x 68mm)
Images © and collection of Brett Payne

Although, as far as I am aware, no photograph exists of that particular scary ride, there is a photobooth portrait of my father which could have been taken on the same day. It doesn't have any identifying studio marks or printing on it, but by comparison with similar thin-metal-framed prints from the 1950s which I discussed in a previous article, I can tell it was taken in a Photomatic photobooth. It's possibly the latest example of a Photomatic portrait that I've seen.

Getting back on topic, this series of photos suggests that Durban's rickshaw drivers are still attracting the tourists, although I suspect they're no longer offering rides for twenty cents. I don't think I would fancy expending that amount of effort, even for a considerably greater sum.


Japanese Rickshaw, at the Powerhouse Museum.

Zulu Ricksha, 1892-2000, Power Carriages of the Mandlakazi Clan, from Gallery Ezakwantu.

Ricksha Boys of Durban, The Age, 11 September 1967, p.11, courtesy of Google Books.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Sepia Saturday 188: The Cornwall Coast in Colour

Sepia Saturday by Alan Burnett

A couple of months ago I purchased a large collection of glass plate negatives, and used several of these to illustrate a piece I wrote for Sepia Saturday about a visit to the Pleasure Palaces of Southport. In the second of a planned series of articles about this intriguing collection we return to the English coastline with six colour positive glass plate slides taken by an unknown amateur photographer.

The six slides each measure 89 x 63mm (3½" x 2½"), with the printable area roughly 3¼" x 2¼", corresponding to the standard quarter-plate format used by most amateur glass plate cameras in the early to mid-1900s. All six are coastal views but, like the rest of the collection, none have anything to indicate where they might have been taken, despite having a very English feel to them.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

It was this view that provided the first clue. As a trained geologist I'm pretty familiar with landscapes and outcrop patterns produced by a variety of rock types, and this headland with its blocky nature produced by weathering of rectangular joint patterns seems to me very typical of granite.

Image © and courtesy of the Ordnance Survey
Geology of Cornwall and Devon
portion of Geological Survey "Ten-Mile" Map (1957)
Image © and courtesy of the Ordnance Survey

From what I remember of my A-Level geology studies the only place in England that you're likely to find granite right on the coast is in Cornwall, as the portion of the Geological Survey map for that area shows rather dramatically. The red blobs are granite intrusions, and the blob at the far left covers the land around Penzance, St Ives and Land's End.

Land's End, Cornwall
View Larger Map

That still leaves a fair distance of coastline to search, but if you're visiting Cornwall, what better place to take a photograph than at Land's End, that most touristic and memorable of spots, so that's where I looked first. You can search this coastline very effectively using either Google Maps or Google Earth. Noticing that the view in that first slide had some rocks off shore, with perhaps a lighthouse on one of them, I used Google Maps to come up with this view of rocky islets a few hundred metres to the west of Land's End.

Image © Tom Hurley and courtesy of 360 Cities
Land's End, Cornwall
Image © Tom Hurley and courtesy of 360 Cities

Google Earth gives you the opportunity to "fly through" the landscape in virtual 3-D, and to access "spherical panoramic" images hosted by 360 Cities. One of these fortuitously shows almost the exact view as in the slide, taken from Dr Syntax's Head with the Longships islets and lighthouse, as well as Kettle's Bottom rock, in the distance.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Walking a few metres out to the headland and turning right to face north-east gives us the scene shown in the second of the slides (above). The rugged coastline is identifiable by the characteristic sea arches, and a hotel building just visible on the horizon. These two panoramas can be viewed via browser on the 360 Cities web site here and here.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Harbour View A

The next three slides show a harbour, taken from different spots around the shoreline. This image is the most interesting, and in some ways frustrating, of the three. A large crowd gathers around something almost hidden from the view of the photographer. In the right foreground a neatly dressed woman pats the neck of a horse, complete with full collar and harness attached to the shafts of the cart, the buckboard of which is just visible through the crowd. Clearly the people are jostling for a closer view of whatever is on the cart. One man, wearing rolled up shirt sleeves and a flat cap, is standing at what is probably the tailgate of the cart, and has the attention of many in the crowd. At far left of the foreground, standing on some kind of platform, are three teenagers including two girls with dark blue school blazer, one with an unidentifiable crest.

A lorry with large drums piled on the back is parked between the crowd and the water. Almost hidden behind the cab of the truck, several boys play in waist-deep water. The harbour is scattered with boats at anchor, ranging from small pleasure craft to larger commercial fishing boats. A long stone wharf or breakwater extends almost across the entire width of the photo, with two lighthouses, a large one centrally placed and a smaller one at the distal end, marking one side of the harbour entrance. A couple of dozen cars, mostly black, are parked along the wharf, reminding one of that well worn quote often attributed to Henry Ford, "You can have any colour as long as it's black." The car at the far right looks like an early Morris Minor, first manufactured in 1948. Also arrayed intermittently down the wharf are a number of people standing and sitting, obviously enjoying the warm sunshine.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Harbour View B

This view of the harbour includes the shore-end of the wharf and part of a town, with a number of boats resting at anchor and several dinghies tethered by ropes and lying on the sand in the foreground exposed by an outgoing tide.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Harbour View C

A third view of the harbour is taken from the opposite direction, the photographer standing on the shore somewhere in the middle of the previous view. Boats are at anchor or under way in the small harbour, at least four of them with visible occupants, and several men, women and children can be seen on foot investigating the intertidal sand flats.

The slopes on the other side of the harbour are clad with a substantial number of buildings, indicating a sizeable town, and a smaller wharf protecting the other side of the harbour is visible in the left middle ground. At far left in the middle ground, beyond a rocky point, a beach crowded with pleasure seekers can just be made out.

Image © and courtesy of Google Earth
St Ives, Cornwall, December 2005 (see in Google Maps)

It took a little searching, but I eventually found the harbour using Google Earth. It is St Ives, situated on the northern Cornwall coast, a town well serviced with Streetview images, which meant I could locate three perfect shots for a "Now and Then" series.

Image © and courtesy of Google Earth
St Ives Harbour View A - May 2009
Image © and courtesy of Google Earth

The first view was clearly taken near the top of this boat ramp, and I suspect the cart contains a catch of fish, crab or lobster recently hauled onshore from one of the fishing boats now at anchor in the harbour.

Image © and courtesy of Google Earth
St Ives Harbour View B - May 2009
Image © and courtesy of Google Earth

Image © and courtesy of Google Earth
St Ives Harbour View C - May 2009
Image © and courtesy of Google Earth

The second and third views indicate that the photographer was walking around the harbour as the tide went out.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The last of the six slides depicts a beach at low tide, filled with dozens of people enjoying the sunny afternoon. Some recline in their deck chairs, reading newspapers, chatting to friends or watching the children playing. The photographer has caught a young boy having just bowled a ball at his sister, and she's in the act of batting it away. Two young ladies bravely sunbathe in the lea of a rocky outcrop. Another group of children are digging in the sand. One young man or woman scans the sky anxiously, wondering how much longer the sun will last or perhaps keeping a lookout for pesky seagulls.

Image © and courtesy of Google Earth
View of Newquay Harbour entrance from Towan Beach
Image © buthe79 and courtesy of Panoramio

This has been identified as Town Beach at Newquay, which recent images show to have remained popular with holidaymakers. The rocks here are Devonian sandstones, by the way.

The clothing fashions in these photographs, particularly those worn by the women, appear to me to be typical of the post-Second World War era, i.e. the late 1940s and early to mid-1950s, illustrated by the images on Geoff Caulton's PhotoDetective web page for this period.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Detail of St Ives Harbour View A
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

It was when zooming in on these images that I noticed a very unusual feature, one that I've never previously noticed in any of the colour images that I own. Although not visible to the naked eye, the colours are actually made up of three differently coloured sets of diagonal lines. According to Robert Hirsch's history of colour photography (Hirsch, 2011), colour plates made up of a "checkerboard of red, green, and blue elements" were produced by the Finlay Colour process, also known as the Thames Colour Screen, which was originally patented in 1906 but abandoned after the Great War. It was subsequently re-introduced in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The Paget Dry Plate process, "patented in Britain in 1912 by G.S. Whitfield and first marketed by the Paget Prize Plate Company in 1913," was a very similar technique (Wikipedia).

The system used two glass plates, one of which was the colour screen plate while the other was a standard black-and-white negative plate. The colour screen plate comprised a series of red, green and blue filters, laid down in a regular pattern of lines to form a réseau, or matrix ... Transparency positives could be made from the system's panchromatic negatives by contact printing; these positives were then bound in register with a colour viewing screen of the same type as used for exposure, to reproduce the image in colour.
James Morley has a small collection of early colour positive slides produced by the Paget process here. My examples, however, appear to have been taken considerably later, probably in the very late 1940s or early 1950s.

For more coastal excursions, in various hues, visit the other participants in this week's Sepia Saturday effort.


Hirsch, Robert (2011) A Concise History of Color Photography, in Exploring Color Photography, 5th Edition, Focal Press.

Elusive colour: Paget colour system, on Captured in Colour, Australian War Memorial.
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