Family ties and mysteries

From time to time, I am asked by people to help identify photographs, even by finding a general date range. I am happy to do this when possible, although I cannot stress enough that I am not an expert and am simply sharing my general knowledge based on the research I do for this site. Recently I was contacted by site reader Jim Earl, who has a number of British CDVs and cabinet cards that pose a mystery to him. They are from his family’s photograph albums, but as with so many old photos, they were not identified at the time and now the subject names have been lost to the ages. But, because Jim’s photos are wonderful, I asked for, and he granted, permission to post them here for other reader input if any is to be had.

J Earl Beard

Quite a beard!

J Earl 1

Photographic artists Sandry & Burrow

Not much could be found on the photographer, Sandry and Burrow, except to expand the names as William James Sandry & Burrow. Sandry appears to have had a variety of partners and locations. The photo itself is a CDV of a gentleman who initially looks to be from the 1840s or 1850s to me. The squared corners of the card tell us this is most likely an 1860s image, and is possibly a reprint of a daguerrotype.

A woman and boy

A woman and boy

Another CDV made of a woman and boy, I am assuming a mother and son. Her dress is more characteristic of the 1870s, but his suit of clothes is suggestive of the 1860s. Another mystery photographer, A. Lloyd Beard from Cardiff. He made plenty of photos which are currently selling on sites like eBay, but no one seems to know when he was in business. I’m guessing at the late 1860s on this one.

Definitely 1860s here

Definitely 1860s here

This lovely image is definitely from the 1860s based on the wide hooped skirts of mother and child. The mother’s dress features a “false vest” style, which was a high-fashion look. The child has several rows of growth tucks and trim on her skirt. No photographer information was found on the photo.

J Earl Purple Bow

Fabulous hand painting

J Earl 2

Well, here is William James Sandry again!

Based on the hairstyle and dress, I’m putting this image into the 1870s. Clothing styles and hairstyles changed drastically between the 1860s and 1870s. Skirts were not the full bell shape over cage crinolines, but instead smooth fronted and draped to the rear end, in the early bustle look. Pads and small pillows were added under the skirt to emphasize the lady’s backside. Hairstyles no longer accented a nice wide face, but instead added height and angularity. This lady shows us her lovely purple tie – hand painted by the photographer – and even has rather large earrings. Her bodice is called a basque waist as it lays overtop of the skirt in a separate piece, rather than the two pieces being sewn together into one dress. The photographers were William James Sandry and E. Sandry this time.

Family time

Family time

J Earl

Howard Nicholls, photographer

This photograph is a cabinet card, turned into the landscape orientation to capture the entire family. As was common, the photograph was made out of doors so natural light could be used for the best exposure. I’d put this image in the late 1880s or very early 1890s based on the sleeve shapes of the women’s dresses. These are possibly Pascoe family members of the Cornwall Pascoes, who sailed to the US in 1856 to settle in Michigan and later Kansas in the 1870s. Jim says the family kept in touch, and clearly some of these images predate the settlement in Kansas. Others may be family who exchanged photos during the Michigan settlement. I found nothing at all on the photographer Howard Nicholls of Redruth.

While I’m afraid I did  not find anything more detailed about the photographers, such as dates of operation, I am hopeful that the general dates based on clothing are helpful for Jim. Sometimes, that is all it takes, knowing certain people are included or excluded based on the photo date. Good luck, Jim, in your search for answers to the family photographic mysteries!






Gems 17

Off center, slipped down in the placeholder and looking squashed

A page in our little album that does not feature its residents to their best portrayals, unfortunately. The tiny gem tintypes have shifted in their placeholders and threaten to hide some of the better elements on them.

Giant plaid bow

Giant plaid bow

I do wish we could see more of this image, or even more of the dress worn, because there is a massive bow at this girl’s neck and I’m really curious what was going on with that! It is not possible to tell if the bow was part of the overall dress, or if it was worn as a decorative element, such as a bow tie, OR even if it was part of a wrap that was tied around the neck with the giant bow. It is a mystery.



This particular image just appears to be sliding off the edge of the world and we cannot see more of her dress either! The band collar is interesting, however, and these became fashionable post Civil War, I believe in the last years of the 1860s and early years of the 1870s, remaining popular in some form or fashion through the end of the Victorian era. The hairstyle here looks awkward, but I suspect it was well fastened to the back of her head. It just looks like it is going to pull her head backwards!

Liberty Bell 8

Liberty Bell 9

A pretty frame

This image from the Liberty Bell album is a post 1900 image, but not that far from the turn of the century. The dress style features the high neck and pleated blouse that was very popular from about 1900-1905. The hairstyle is the “Gibson Girl” style with a flower and/or hair fork in the back. She looks like a pretty young lady about to embark on her life.

The image matte has an embossed circle around the image which gives a pretty framing to the photo. Also embossed on the matte is the photographer name, which was Tilton in Exeter, NH.

Ships crew



A. B. Cross Photo, Salem MA


First Mate

Alva Pearsall Photographer, Brooklyn, NY



Turner, Boston MA



L. W. Cook, Boston, MA


Deck hand

Glines, The Fotografer, Boston MA


Cabin boy

G. A. Underwood, Worcester, MA

These are a selection of unidentified photographs in my collection. They do look like the faces of a ship’s crew to some degree. The two fellows at the top I really struggled with. The older gentleman looks more like a tall ship captain, while the younger man looks like a steamer captain. They could be interchangeable, I suppose.

I have listed the various photographers’ names under each photo. You will see that with the exception of the oldest man here, all were from Massachusetts, mainly Boston.

For more photos of crew, ships, people, harbors, bicycles, and more, click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did!

Heave ho!


Mary, Belle, Kate

Three beautiful little girls pose for their photograph by an unknown photographer in an unknown location. We are lucky that someone identified them as Mary, Belle & Kate, children of Emma Rudd McGinnis.  Iggy found that Emma Kate Rudd McGinnis was the daughter of William Mann Rudd. You can view Emma’s photograph in my first post about the Rudd family.

Emma was born as the seventh of twelve children to Dr. William Mann Rudd and Catherine Eliza Rudd. As I was trying to sort this out, I realized that the Dr and his son Jr, who is pictured here, were many years apart in age. Dr was born in 1827 and was 51 when Jr was born in 1878. His youngest child Catherine was born in 1881 when Dr was 54 years old. The children were as follows:

James – 1855

Nancy – 1857

Elvira – 1859

Rosalia – 1860

Davis – 1861

Charles – 1864

Emma – 1867

Virginia – 1871

Alome/Olney – 1874

Ida – 1876

William Jr – 1878

Catherine 1881

Yes, in the days without effective birth control, a woman could be in a state of pregnancy, nursing or otherwise caring for children for thirty years. Wow.

Emma married Bernard McGinnis (1852-?) in 1889 at the age of 19. Their daughters soon followed, Isabelle in 1889, Anna Kate in 1891 and Mary in 1892. Unfortunately, Emma passed away in 1902. While Belle and Mary both do not have living descendants, Anna does. Hopefully one of them may come upon this site and be able to provide some insight into this large family.

Odd cropping

Sepia Saturday this week encourages us to look at women, and although I don’t have a photo of women talking on the phone, operating office machines or other possible directions the prompt could go, I do have some women from a recent purchase that I am ready to explore. These three photos have rather odd cropping.

This cabinet card has the deckled edges popular in the 1890s, and the clothing also suggests that same time frame. You notice the image appears to have been cut in a rounded fashion along the lower portion of the girls’ bodies, and then placed on a brown field. Just under the girl on the left it says “me here” I think. The back identifies them as Ida & Catherine Rudd.

Another cabinet card with the strange rounded cropping. The clothing is indicative of the 1890s again, so my first impression that it was a photo cut out of another photograph and remounted. That could still be the case, but it isn’t an older photo reprint, as was often done. This one was identified as Emma Rudd.

This image was clearly cut from another and reprinted. You can see behind the curls of her hair, a lighter backdrop than the dark brown one used here. The cutting was done carefully, but it is still possible to see where the scissors changed direction on the rounded edge at the bottom of the image. This is definitely another Rudd family member as the facial resemblance is quite strong, but it was not identified. None of the photos have any photographer’s information so at first I wasn’t even sure where they were from geographically. However, another photo in the batch was made in Los Angeles, CA, so that gives us a jumping off point for genealogical research. More to come with this family as I have a variety of cabinet cards, snapshots and possible even some postcards (mailed ones even!) to explore.

For other images of women doing interesting things (oh my!) click over to Sepia Saturday. You will be happy you did!

What number please?

Big sleeves & mangy fur

The latest entry from the Leaf Album and all I can say is wow. That fur is really disreputable; I can’t imagine what the photographer thought this would say in an artistic sense about his young female subject. Her dress is quite statement enough, in my opinion. The sleeves aren’t as large or prominent as the last big sleeve image from the album, but they really don’t do much for this lady’s look. They appear to be 3/4 bell sleeves, almost pagoda sleeves. Then there is some sort of lacy undersleeve and the lace adornment at the neckline. The fabric is checkered as well, so it makes me dizzy to look at it too long. Finally, the gathered blouse style bodice just makes the whole thing look sloppy to me. Sigh, the things women will do for fashion! She is fairly young, so perhaps this was the height of style for young women in the mid to late 1890s.

The photographer was Freedle, a clear family favorite.

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