Monday 25 November 2013

Mrs Thorpe's School Dog

This is a first for the Antique Dog Photograph Gallery - a school group photo. Look carefully to spot the dog in the middle of the front row. Click on the image to enlarge for a better view.

The photograph was taken by L. Wandy of 108 Renfield St, Glasgow, Scotland. Wandy is somewhat of a mystery, as there is no trace of him to be found in trade directories of the time, or in any variation of a search on that I have been able to think of.

However I have found other examples of school photos by Wandy, so they must have been something of a specialty of his.

The style of the mount dates the image to the mid-1880s. The address in Renfield Street was occupied by J. Douglas and Son photographers until 1883, and subsequently David Duiguid & Son photographers from 1885 till 1886. So perhaps Wandy worked for one of these firms as a guest, and this would go some way to explaining the title of "Artist" rather than photographer on the photo mount.

On the reverse of the photo "Mrs Thorpe's School" is written faintly in pencil. I wonder if the woman on the far right of the back row is Mrs Thorpe? This woman, who ever she is is holding something hair under her arm, which must be a dog, who was perhaps unable to keep still when the photograph was taken.


The main attraction of this photo is the little dog in the centre of the front row of children - a Clydesdale or Paisley Terrier.

Victorian author Rawdon Lee wrote of these dogs in 1894:

It has been said that this terrier was originally a cross between the ordinary Skye Terrier and the Yorkshire terrier, but, although it is of quite modern origin, no proof has been produced when such crosses took place or who made them. Much more likely origin is that the variety was made by the Glasgow and other Scottish dog fanciers crossing the softer-coated, lighter-coloured prick-eared Skye terriers with each other until they bred fairly truly and produced the Skye terriers in an altered form.

Victorian drawing of Clydesdale & Paisley Terriers

In the earliest days of dog showing when many individual breeds were much less defined than they are today, Clydesdale or Paisley terriers were shown together in the same classes as Skye Terriers, much to the annoyance of the Skye fanciers. Thomson Gray writes about this in his book Dogs of Scotland:

At the shows which used to be held at Glasgow... these silky-coated terriers were seen in all their beauty, and the fact of their appearing there as Skyes was what first brought them into prominence. The fanciers of the hard-coated Skyes rose in arms against them, holding that they were not Skyes, as they had a silky coat, and were only pretty 'mongrels' bred from Skye terrier 'rejections,' and ought to be known as Glasgow or Paisley Skyes. On the other hand, the breeders of the silky-coated dogs held, as a matter of course, that the texture of coat their dogs possessed was the correct one. This was untenable, as until the introduction of this breed no Scottish dog had a silky or soft coat.

After the decision against the eligibility of the silky-coated dog to compete in the Skye terrier classes, the breed rapidly declined. A few, however, held to the breed out of pure love and admiration for it, but they were few.


  • L. Wandy on Glasgow's Victorian Photographers
  • The Terriers. A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland, Rawdon Briggs Lee, 1894
  • Dogs of Scotland, Thomson Gray, 1891

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Little Lou Lou

What a charming creature greets us in this simple photograph. A white fluffy Maltese sits on a highly polished table for a portrait photograph. Skillfully the photographer has posed the dog on an object much darker than its fur to create superb contrast in the image.

On the reverse of the photograph a message is written to the recipient, as if written by the dog himself:

"My Photograph" for dear kind Aunt Anne with Little Lou Lou's best love..."

The silky-haired small white Maltese lap dog is the most ancient of all the laps dogs of the Western world. First imported into England during the reign of Henry VIII, they were regarded as "meet playfellows for mincing mistresses" during the reign of Elizabeth I. During these times the Maltese was believed to possess healing powers - the sick and ailing would put the little dogs on their stomach or chest for comfort, and they became known as the "Comforter." 

 The Maltese Dog illustrated in The Dogs of the British Islands, 1872

Lou Lou's photograph was taken by Alexander James Grossmann at 56 Snargate Street, Dover.

Born in 1833 in Pressbourg, Hungary - Alexander came to the UK in 1851. The story goes that the ship he was traveling to the England on was wrecked near the Island of Malta. He was cared for by an Anglican clergyman who converted him to Christianity and gave him the name of Alexander James Grossmann.

After settling in Dover Alexander first worked as a watchmaker, and later became a photographer. For how long his business was successful I have been unable to find out. However the London Gazette tells us the Alexander became bankrupt while still at the address featured on the rear of the photo mount.


Monday 4 November 2013

The Coonhound & Raccoon's of llinois

 In this photograph, dating to the early 1860's by the style of the mount, we have a Black and Tan Coonhound with the results of the day's hunt - four Raccoons.

The dog was an easy subject for the photographer, so tired from his work he simply sleeps for the length of the photographic exposure.

The Amercian Coonhound is thought to have descended from the Bloodhound and the now extinct English Talbot hound. Large-headed, broad-nosed and with typically pendulous ears, the massive Talbot Hounds were built for stamina and strength, rather than speed. Their coat was short, coarse and flat, preferred in pure white, but also commonly seen in piebald colourings.

The Old English Talbot Hound, illustrated in Rees's Cyclopædia or, Universal Dictionary of the Arts and Sciences edited by Revd. Abraham Rees. (1743-1825).

Black and Tan was the first Coonhound to be considered a separate breed from the American Foxhound and was admitted to American Kennel Club Breed registry in 1945.

President George Washington is known to have owned four Black & Tan Coonhounds - Drunkard, Taster, Tipler & Tipsy

The Amercian Kennel Club describes the Black and Tan Coonhound as follows:

A determined, painstaking, honest hunter, the Black and Tan is noted for staying on track no matter how faint the scent and producing raccoon under the worst scenting conditions. With his musical voice and persistent attitude, the extremely cold-nosed Black and Tan is incredibly sure, on the trail.

The reverse of the photograph's mount, showing the photogrpaher J. R. Bradshaw's details