Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Abbotsford wreck

For the bog visitor searching for the barque Abbotsford, go to


This wrecksite is very useful for famous or obscure ships and provides excellent information.

A barque (bark) is a sailing ship with at least three masts, all of them fully square rigged except for the sternmost one, which is fore-and-aft rigged. 

Barque - Wikipedia

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Natal Photographers B Kisch, subject Dacomb of Dunragit

Carte de Visite by B Kisch, taken in Durban, studio not named. The subject is a young man of the Dacomb family, who came to Natal on the Edward. There were three brothers. Charles Dacomb's eldest son was also named Charles. This photograph may be of the son. The latter owned a farm named Dunragit, next door to William Dixon Smith's property at Umzinto. There is a story that this farmer rode a zebra to the fields.

Rosendo Ribeiro - Wikipedia

Monday, March 30, 2020

Natal Photographers: Coney; subject Swires, Maud

Maud Alice Swires (1890 - 1969), my paternal grandmother, 
 as a child (aged about 4) taken by 
John W Coney in his Pietermaritzburg studio. Cabinet print.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Kisch Family

Family of Benjamin Kisch whose name can be seen on the dark card of this
cabinet print.  The photograph was taken at the Mercury Lane Studio circa 1880. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Baines as photographer

The artist, Thomas Baines, was also an accomplished photographer. Here he is seen during his Expedition to Victoria Falls, 1860-1864.  Baines entitled the sketch 'Photography under difficulties'.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Natal Photographers: Caney's Building, Durban

The Caney's Building, West Street, Durban; the name can be seen 
over the store window. Next door was the Tattersall Bar.

 This was the first 3 storey structure in Durban. The family lived on the third floor, which was rickety and which swayed when the wind blew strong off the Bay. 
The third floor was demolished as a result. 

The shape of the lady's skirt outside the shop window indicates a date during the 1860s, when the fan-shaped hoop was fashionable.

Acknowlegement: Graham Leslie MacCallum

Monday, March 23, 2020

Photographers: Napier

Mr A Napier wasn't one to hold back modestly in his self-advertising. All done 'in the most artistic style'. We are left wondering quite he means by 'Rembrandt, Enamelled and Fancy Style of Picture' but it is clear he was not averse to taking photographs in the open air; he mentions landscape and architectural also groups and animals. An additional incentive would be the 'Dressing Room adjoining Studio'. He goes on to assure customers that 'First Class work only Issued'. 

This advert is dated 1889. By 1880 Napier was operating a studio in Johannesburg, continuing until 1899. In 1908 there was 'Napier Studios' at 163 Longmarket, Pietermaritzburg but whether these were connected with A Napier of Johannesburg is not certain. It seems unlikely since the photographer in the Pietermaritzburg studio's name is given as J W Garner in the 1908 Almanac.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Natal Photographers: Murray, J H

Tradeplates used by J H Murray, one of Natal's longest practising photographers, working first with Kermode 1873 to 1874. Murray had a Pietermaritzburg studio from 1877 until the early 1900s. 

Bensusan says Murray 'was a familiar figure touring Natal in a horse-drawn trap, taking his dark-room with him and doing all his development on the spot'.

He sent over 50 photographs to the Colonial Exhibition in London in 1880.

Active during the Anglo-Boer War, Murray took a number of photographs of volunteer units.

      Young man photographed by J H Murray in Pietermaritzburg ca 1880s

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Natal Photographers: James, W E, Bell family

Tradeplate of W E James as seen on the reverse of a photograph
of the Bell family (see above), possibly taken outside
the lightkeeper's residence on the Bluff.
 This photo was one of few in an outside location at this date.

 James had a studio at Central West Street, Durban in 1875. The photo must have been taken after the death of Captain William Bell in 1869. Those in the picture include Douglas Bell (possibly the figure holding the telescope; on the back the name is given as Uncle Dog), an unknown man who might have been the Assistant Lightkeeper, 'Aunt Ellen' (Ellen Harriet Bell married Baxter) and 'Cousin Violet Bell' (Violet Amy Bell daughter of Sarah Scott Bell, later Pay).

The original photo was in black and white but was restored and coloured by artist Hartmut Jager.