Thursday, September 12, 2013

Caithness: James Ernest in Calcutta?

There's a possibility that this photograph shows James Ernest Caithness as a young man in the mid-1860s. The original is a carte de visite by Bourne & Shepherd, a well-known and successful photographic studio operating in Calcutta at that time. 

In support of the date, below is a photograph of Samuel Bourne, one of the founders of the company, taken in 1864. His style and general appearance, including curly hair, moustache with full beard, typical of that decade, is similar to that of the probable James, seen above.

The picture below is of Bourne & Shepherd's premises in Calcutta:

An example of the reverse of one of Bourne & Shepherd's cartes de visite, showing their trade-plate, can be seen at:

Note that the simple trade-plate and lack of further decoration on the reverse of the carte, as well as the rounded corners, confirm the mid-1860s date - of the example, that is. Unfortunately, vital details (corners, reverse view) required for dating purposes are lacking for this picture: something to remember when rephotographing the ancestors - include the entire item, not just the subject of the photo as clues may be lost.

No precise information is currently available regarding James Ernest's whereabouts in the 1860s. We know he was in Calcutta for the birth of his eldest child in 1878, a year after his marriage in London. In 1878, James Ernest would have been 39, while the photo portrait appears to be of a man in his twenties.  It's interesting to speculate that he may have visited Calcutta, spent some time there prior to his marriage and had his photograph taken at Bourne & Shepherd's. 

Cooke & Kelvey, the firm James Ernest joined in India, was co-founded by Robert Thomas Cooke, brother-in-law of James's uncle, Edward Bear Ridges. 'Anglo-Indian' watch brand Cooke & Kelvey first opened its doors in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1858.

1 comment:


exquisite time piece, Mole.