Edmund Tomkins

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Uncle Edmund

Edmund Tomkins back W

Lucy & Emily’s Dad

Today’s photograph is of Uncle Edmund Tomkins, either from America or who went to America. Uncle Edmund is sporting a rather wispy beard and mustache that makes me think there is an unfortunate scratch or blemish on the surface of the image. He must have been proud of it to wear it for his photograph, but in my book, this is not something to memorialize.

According to the back of the card, Uncle Edmund was also Lucy & Emily’s Dad. He may also be related to our previous subject, Uncle Taylor from Sheffield, as the handwriting on the backs is the same. They don’t look at all similar in their facial features, so possibly are in-law uncles or from opposite sides of the family. We can never know.

The photographer selected by Uncle Edmund was Helsby & Co, 34 Church Street in Liverpool, England.

The Faded Girl

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Where are you, sweet child?

Faded girl back W

Decorative backmark for May & Co.

This later 19th century photograph, a CDV, once showed a pretty child, posed upon a chair, with round baby face youth looking out at her parents. Today, we know she was there, but over time the image has faded to a grainy suggestion of its former glory. I don’t know enough about vintage photographic processes to even suggest what has caused the photo to fade so badly. Perhaps it was exposed to direct sunlight, or perhaps it wasn’t developed properly in the first place.

The photographer was May & Co, of Station Road, Northwich, England. Northwich is in the county of Cheshire, northwest of London. I found a reference in an 1892 directory for Northwich, to a George Austin May & Co, photographer in Station Road.

 

A photo of a painting

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A portrait from the 1830s or so

When photography became popular, it was not only seen as a way to capture living images of people, but also as a means to share older images. This CDV is an example of a photograph of a portrait or miniature that was painted in an earlier decade. I’m not very good with men’s clothing, so please chime in if you know better, but I’m guessing this portrait was made in the 1830s. Perhaps this was a beloved patriarch of a family. This could also be a memorial card given to friends and distant relatives when the subject passed away – in the 1860s.

The photograph was made by W. G. Helsby Jr in Denbigh and Ruthin. These towns are near coastal Wales, a bit southwest of Liverpool, England. The two towns were connected by a railway which was established in 1860 and used for approximately 100 years, closing in the 1960s.

Portrait back W

Helsby’s Studios backmark

Note that part of the backmark indicates “other portraits copied as miniatures or enlarged to life size or delicately finished in oil or water color.”  This image is clearly a copy of a portrait.

 

In remembrance

Isa W

Striped bow tie

 

Isa back W

A memorial card?

From Gloucester, England we have a portrait of an older gentleman photographed by S. S. Soley. Someone inscribed on the back “In Remembrance of 17th Oct 70.” The date could possibly be 12th or something else, there seems to be an extra scratch of ink and it looks like a 4 upside down or an H. Regardless, this image can be fairly well dated to 1870, which was possibly the date of death of the man pictured on the front.

 

Wide Lace Collar

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Beautiful lacework and ringlet curls

This British woman in her middle age posed for a portrait with Thomas Fall of Portman Square, London, and others. Her bodice is covered with an elaborate lace collar that is edged with fine rondels and fastened with a brooch. You can just see the buttons of her dress and so it is likely the dress opened independently of the lace, and the lace either laid flat over top or was fastened with hidden hooks on the shoulder. Unfortunately we cannot see any more of her dress. Her hair was pulled back in a full, pompadour style and then ringlets were added behind her ears. I cannot tell if the ringlets go all the way across the back of her head. It would be a sight to see!

There are two possibilities about this fashion choice. One is that she is older and the ringlets were her preferred style when she was young. Another is that she isn’t as old as she looks and is simply emulating a fashionable hairstyle of her time. Vintage photographs, CDVs and cabinet cards of the 19th century in particular, can make people look much older than they were.

According to the backmark of the CDV card, Thomas Fall had studios at 9 & 10 Baker Street, Portman Square W as well as 6 Fitzjohn’s Promenade, Finchley Road, Hampstead NW. Note his post script, which indicates that he has all negatives for the previous 15 years, representing nearly 70,000 sitters. Would that we could view those negatives and records now!

Wide Lace back W

Thomas Fall of London and Hampstead

 

Uncle Taylor

Uncle Taylor W

A droopy beard and whiskers

Uncle Taylor back W

Uncle Taylor

Do you think that Uncle Taylor was from Sheffield, or his last name was Sheffield? He bears a strong resemblance to Tomkins/Tom King, and I wonder if they were related somehow.

Uncle Taylor wore a nice three piece suit for his photograph and a bow tie. I notice that although his beard is quite full, his forehead is quite large. Is there some compulsion by men losing their hair to grow out their beard?

The photograph was made by Edward Atkinson at 8 Norfolk Row, Sheffield, England.

Checkered

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Checkered fabric and wide lace collar

This CDV from Leicester shows us a round faced young woman in her Sunday best dress. The bodice is called a fan front as it has a darted inner lining that fits close to the body, and the outside fashion fabric is gathered at the waist, creating a loose fan shape from her waist to shoulders. Hidden inside the folds are the fasteners, but you can just see her waistband as well and it appears to have buckled a bit during her sitting. Her sleeves are called double pagoda sleeves. The shape of the sleeve was narrow at the top and wide open at the hem. These are doubled as they have an upper sleeve ending around her elbow with a lower sleeve that reaches her wrist. Underneath that, she would have worn undersleeves of lightweight cotton that tied onto the arm above the elbow and had a small cuff at the wrist. The bodice then has a wide lace collar that is held together in front by a large oval brooch. These styles combined tell us the fashions are from the late 1850s. The style of the fan fronted bodice lingered into the 1860s but the collar styles changed to small peter pan style collars made of white cotton. It is possible this is a reprint of an earlier image.

These descriptions of course are all generalizations because there is always one exception to every rule, but for the most part they hold true. The hairstyle also suggests the 1850s. Although a center part and oiled hair was popular through the end of the ’60s, rolling it over rats at the chinline to create a wide face was introduced in the ’50s and was the dominant style. In 1860s images I often see women with their hair parted and oiled but without the rats to add volume.

A hair rat, by the way, is a small pad of hair used to provide volume. As women brushed their hair every day, hair naturally came out, and it was collected in a hair receiver (small covered porcelain dish) on her vanity. Once the receiver was full, the hair was collected and sewn into a hair net. It was far more economical than purchasing a rat and of course was a guaranteed color match as it was the woman’s own hair. Hair nets were fine spun cotton or silk and matched the woman’s hair color as well. Think more of the “lunch lady” hair net than the bright colored “snood” of the 1930s.

Checkered back W

W. Rowe, Photographer, 82 High Street, Leicester

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