British photographic history

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This albumen print is a portrait of captain WH Barten. Identified on a separate paper. 

Does someone know more about this type of uniform? I bought it with UK provenance. 

Print ca. 16 x 12,8 cm. 


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Comment by Bob Bennett on September 23, 2019 at 10:58
P.S. I think it is later than the 1855 date quoted, by at least a decade.
Comment by Bob Bennett on September 23, 2019 at 10:51
The uniform upper garment shown is called a frock-coat and was a common feature of British Army uniform in the high Victorian era. It was the military equivalent of the same civilian garment at the time. Strictly speaking it was known in military parlance as an ‘undress’ item of uniform and worn in Barracks for general duties, at court martials and in the field. Today it is worn only by the Sovereign’s household troops of the Horse Guards and Foot Guards, whereas in the Victorian era all parts of the British Army had a special regimental pattern, that differed in some small respects. Unlike many other armies the British officers were required to purchase their own uniforms and there were a large number of military outfitters vying for their trade.
Turning to the specific officers in both of the photos (cartes de visite), they are both officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers (RE) circa late 1870s. They are identifiable by the RE pattern frock-coats with shawl collar, the scarlet ‘shell jackets’ (with dark blue velvet collar), decorated with gilt balls down the front, but actually fastened by hooks and eyes, the special broader than usual scarlet stripes down their pantaloons, and headdress comprising a blue pill box forage cap with gold lace band of RE pattern and gold netted button at top centre.
Comment by Wouter Lambrechts on September 20, 2019 at 18:29

Thank you both for this information! I really appreciate it. 

Comment by David McGreevy on September 18, 2019 at 0:16

Please notice the same small buttons or white embroidery details at the neckline.

Comment by David McGreevy on September 18, 2019 at 0:07

Dear Wouter,

I have a similar photo of the same uniform on a fine soldier, possibly Crimean War Related.

I know that there is a colloquial name for this uniform, but it escapes me.

By the way, Prince Harry wore this exact uniform at his wedding!

Comment by David Robert Jones on September 13, 2019 at 11:43

I googled Captain W.H. Barten and found the website By clicking on the signature on the webpage the letters RE are seen after his name which shows he was in the Royal Engineers. I shared the website with Crimean War enthusiasts and Tim Pickles, who has expert knowledge of uniforms, recognised the uniform as that of the Royal Engineers. The Engineers used staff lace and the red stripe on the trousers is two inches wide. Michael Hargreaves Mawson believes he was actually Captain W. H. Burton, who was commissioned into the Madras Engineers in 1855, served in the Indian Mutiny and retired as colonel in 1890. I hope this helps.


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