Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dating Photographs in Natal: costume and studio

Sydney Bartle Gadsden (1880-1953)

What the well-dressed young man-about-town was wearing in Durban, Natal, in the first decade of the 20th century: the ubiquitous three-piece suit (three buttons to the jacket which has fairly narrow lapels), worn with a white shirt with a stiff collar and almost invisible knotted tie peeping above the high opening of the waistcoat. Not much concession, therefore, to heat and humidity, other than the straw boater (often incorrectly referred to as a 'basher') with wide ribbon trim. This gives a jaunty seaside tang to an otherwise formal appearance. The moustache, brushed neatly to the sides, was virtually obligatory at this period.
The photograph may have been taken just prior to the gentleman's marriage in November 1909. The Bower Studio was run by W Thomas at Smith Street, Durban, from 1905 and continued in existence into at least the late 1940s, when the studio was listed at both Smith and West Streets, Durban. By that time, it was the Bower Studio (Pty.) Ltd. The good quality grey card mount has decorative touches in the Art Nouveau style.

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