Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Great Mitton Headstone 1812

I was drawn to the Church of All Hallows, Great Mitton by a photograph of an early headstone I saw recently on the internet. Seeing it in person, confirmed my thoughts that this was a very striking stone. It commemorates David Sanderson who died on October 25, 1812 aged 24 years.






Thursday, 13 November 2014

Macabre Photographs feed Public Frenzy for News - do things ever change?

n the first twenty years of the last century, public curiousity fed photographers imagination for picture opportunities that would sell. So, what has changed? Little! If there was an accident or disaster somewhere, an enterprising local photographer would haul his camera equipment to the scene and capture images that they would often produce as postcards for sale to the public.

Here is a photograph of a rail crash - I imagine it is in America - which shows the bodies of the Engineer and Fireman lying in the wreckage. Note, it is photograph No. 7 so there are at least six others. Have any of you seen similar photographs or can hazard a guess at where it might be?

Certainly, today, the producers of souvenir postcards show a little more taste - more than can be said of today's tabloid newspapers. That said, if you ever get the chance to look at copies of the Daily Mirror before the First World War, you will find them packed with gory photographs of disasters. Nothing was left to imagination, especially the words and it must have been distressing for the relatives of those killed and maimed in such incidents. What do you think?


Skulls in the Wilderness

Here is a slightly more macabre photograph which has no identifying marks. I have a theory it was taken on a battlefield some years after a war. So why? Well, I think the discarded tins contained soldiers rations.

Identifying the location is problematic. I suspect it might be Gallipoli. What confuses me is the cacti. Does this Turkish peninsular have the terrain to support the growth of cactus? If not, then I am baffled. Would any of you care to offer an explanation, please?


Post Mortem Photograph

id and found it contained a couple of hundred very ornate In Memoriam cards dating from the 1850s to the 1950s. I will share a photograph with you of the box and its contents so you can appreciate the scale of the find, but that can wait for a later date. What was interesting was a large photograph that lay at the bottom of the box. It stirred a memory of a stall holder at a car boot sale - years ago - asking me if I was the person who collected funeral postcards? I said, yes and he offered me the photograph published here.

Some of you may have previously come across the Victorian custom of having photographs taken of their recently departed family members. Often, a family realised that they had no photographic record of the person who had passed on and sought out a professional photographer who specialised in the art of post mortem portrait photography. To have these photographs taken was quite expensive as it often involved the adult loved one, for example, being fixed to a supporting frame in the standing position or seated, surrounded by family members. The results were sometimes awful with open eyes being inked in by the photographer - on occasion, very amateurishly.

One photographer who did a consistently good job was the Australian portrait photographer, John Charles Garrood who had a studio in Sydney Road, Brunswick, Victoria. He took the photograph of this recently dead young girl, surrounded by flowers and lying in bed. The eye is remarkably clear, but it might be that Garrood cut out and inserted an open eye from someone else's portrait and re-took the shot? It is certainly a more tasteful portrait than some I have seen.


A Dog at the Grave of its Mistress

Now, this is an exceedly rare item - a family snapshot, probably pre-1900, of a dog being taken to see the grave of its mistress and the flowers that cover it. I find it immensely sad and very, very moving. I have never seen another like it and think it is a very unusual example of social history. What do you think? Have you ever seen the like?


Another Bone Yard

Sent to me from New Zealand, this grainy postcard [circa 1900] shows bones and skulls in the bone yard of Paco Cemetery in Manila, Philippines. The cemetery was opened in 1820 for victims of Cholera and was closed to burials in 1913. A short term rental system for burials operated here, too, and I imagine these bones are the remains of those who relatives failed to renew the lease. The cemetery became a national park in 1966 and is a popular location for weddings!. I don't believe the bones are on display today.



Move along there, Sir!

Of course, before the First World War, humorous postcards were very popular in Britain. Sometimes there was a graveyard theme as in the card below where a drunken toff is being moved on by a policeman. The drunk's response is quite interesting. He has a point, you know!


Welcome to the Graveyard Detective

An illustrated look at the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. There are many Stories behind the Stones that Stand in them. Who knows what we might find?

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