Monday 30 September 2013

Myrtle, Celia & Mops

This has to be one of the most charming photos in my collection. A little girl proudly displays her most precious things - her doll, her bonnet, a favourite book, and last but by no means least - her dog.

On the reverse of the mount, faintly in pencil reads the following:

To Hilda
From Myrtle age 6 yrs
Celia (the doll) will be a year next Christmas.

Mop's age is uncertain.

The photograph was taken in Lawler, a small township of Chickasaw County, Iowa, USA. The population of this tiny town has changed little since the 1880s, when the population was 487, to the latest census data from 2010 which put the population at 439. You can image when Myrtle had her photograph taken she would have had lots of close family and friends in the town who would have enjoyed the photo, including Hilda.

1907 Postcard of Lawler, showing Main Street, looking East - click the image for a larger view.

The photographer was John P. Eskildsen. John was born in Denmark and emmigrated to America in 1887. On the 11th of June 1891 he married Emma Schlatter. Her parents were also of European origin, with her father Henry born in Switzerland and her mother Mary born in Prussia. Emma however had been born in Iowa. John officially became a US citizen on 14th of May 1895.  In 1920 aged 54 he was still working as a photographer, with his two of his children - Herbert & Edna - working at the Studio with him.


Tuesday 24 September 2013

The Greyhound in Durban

A handsome young man poses causally with his Greyhound. The man's right hand rests lightly on the top of the dog's heads so to steady it for the exposure of the photograph.

The dog's eyes look exactly as described in Stonhedge's 1872 book The Dogs of the British Islands  - "full and bright, giving the idea of high spirits and animation."

The photograph was taken by photographers Kermode & Murray in the 1870's at their "Portrait Salon" in Durban's Port Natal. Natal was a colony located in the South East corner of Africa. In the Christmas of 1497 it had been discovered by the Portugese. Natal means Christmas in Portugese.

Natal was known for having the "best soil outside of Cape Colony". This attracted a group of 25 British settlers under British Lieutenant F. G. Farewell in the early 1800's, and they established a settlement on the northern shore of the Bay of Natal, near today's Farewell Square.

Members of the settlement were able to administer medical aid to the powerful and influential Zulu chief Shaka after he'd been injured in a battle, they were justly rewarded. As a token of gratitude, he granted the tiny settlement a "25-mile strip of coast a hundred miles in depth."

 1824 European artist's impression of Shaka with a long throwing assegai and heavy shield. 
No drawings from life are known

This map from 1885 shows Port Natal and Durban (or D'Urban as it was known then) which I have highlighted with a red circle (click on the image for a larger view):

The next map is from 1898 and shows just Port Natal. I have added a red dot to show the exact location of the Kermode & Murray Studio (click on the image for a larger view):

 The reverse of the mount featuring the motto of the British Monarch Dieu et Mon Droit
"God and my right shall me defend."