Could this photo show my great great grand­fa­ther?

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - Q & A -

Q I be­lieve that this im­age, which I think has been ‘touched up’, is of my great great grand­fa­ther, John McNeill (1855–1912). He was a mas­ter joiner, born in Dunoon, and died in Glas­gow. It was pro­duced by Men­delssohn & Co in Mel­bourne, Vic­to­ria, which opened in 1880, and John lived in Mel­bourne in early 1881. In ad­di­tion, on the back of the im­age is the name “McNeill”.

The im­age was pre­vi­ously owned by John Dun­can McNeil, the el­dest son of John McNeill. Look­ing at his clothes, could this photo be from around 1881?

Richard MacNeil, via the WDYTYA? Mag­a­zine Fo­rum A This is an en­larged, re­touched pho­to­graph. Reg­u­lar stu­dio pho­tographs were usu­ally small prints, but most com­mer­cial pho­to­graphic stu­dios of­fered en­large­ments. Dur­ing the en­larg­ing process, some of the finer detail present in the orig­i­nal could be­come lost. There­fore it was com­mon for them to be re­touched by hand.

This pic­ture does not date to c1881, but a gen­er­a­tion later (c1900– 1910). A ma­jor clue is the early 20th–cen­tury style of pre­sen­ta­tion, com­bin­ing a card mount with a wide border around the pho­to­graph. The ap­pear­ance of the sub­ject is also rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the early 1900s, sug­gest­ing it may be John’s son, John Dun­can McNeill. Jayne Shrimp­ton


Hair­cuts pro­vide good dat­ing clues: this youth­ful style with top hair slicked down on ei­ther side of a prom­i­nent part­ing, the sides short, was most fash­ion­able dur­ing the 1890s and early 1900s.


Fa­cial hair of­fers a use­ful guide to date and ap­prox­i­mate age.

In the 1880s many young men still sported a mous­tache, but by the early 1900s most favoured a mod­ern, clean-shaven im­age.


Male head-and-shoul­ders photos from the 19th and early 20th cen­tury are dif­fi­cult to pin­point pre­cisely from dress, since men’s styles are more uni­form than fe­male fash­ions, and change more slowly.


Neck­wear com­pleted the male out­fit – shirt col­lars of the early 1900s usu­ally turned down and stiffly starched with rounded points, as here, and neck­ties typ­i­cally a mod­ern long knot­ted tie.


A three-piece lounge/busi­ness suit was cus­tom­ary day­wear, com­pris­ing jacket or morn­ing coat, waist­coat and trousers, the cut slen­der-mod­er­ate, jacket lapels neat and a hand­ker­chief of­ten tucked in the top pocket.

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