British photographic history

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Information: Boy in military or civilian uniform?

This among an interesting bunch of late 1800s and early 1900s glass plate negatives that Harrow School has offloaded from their archive are now up for sale on Ebay. Is this lad in military uniform, or is he in some civilian gear that, for example, hotels dressed their minions up in? Maybe he's a 'Telegram Boy'. Anyone recognise his get-up?

Thank you

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Comment by Bobbie Carnegie on December 17, 2020 at 22:24

Please don't begin to find this thread jaded or tedious - as I have just noted another intriguing oddity among the Hills & Saunders (Harrow School) glass plate negatives for sale on Ebay. I'm sure the little person titled as "c.1915 Miss Steel" looking shy and forlorn and dressed in old maid's attire is a boy. Look closely at the hands. They seem very masculine. The locks of blond hair seem false hanging down either side his-her ears. Could this be a photo of a lad dressed for a Harrow School charade or play? What say You?  

Comment by Bobbie Carnegie on December 17, 2020 at 14:13

Additional useful detail on the the two subjects of the glass plate negatives - Thanks again Dr. Joe Rock.

And, yes the glass plates, from what I learn from present seller, were 'discarded' by Harrow School to a third party from whom present private Ebay seller subsequently 'rescued' the decaying archive. I too had written twice to Harrow School (archivist), at time I first noted the Ebay sale, with no replies. Harrow School has offloaded selections of its archive in a recent sale at auction of antique books and papers so that funds may be accrued for ongoing projects to benefit Harrovians. 

Inadvertent repetition of comments can be deleted of the offending repeat[s] by hitting the little 'x'

Comment by Dr. Joe Rock on December 17, 2020 at 12:49

I have been asked by Mrs. P. Shryane of the Harrow School Old Boys Association on behalf of the Harrow School Archivist to say that these negatives on sale on ebay "are not being sold by Harrow School" and that they "work hard as an institution to maintain our heritage".

The sitters in the two portraits are indeed Harrovarians:

John Henry Dives Costeker (Small Houses and Church Hill) who attended Harrow between the spring term of 1893 and spring term of 1896. He was killed in the landing on V Beach, 25 April 1915.
The second photo is of Philip Michael Pethebridge Martin (Druries) who attended Harrow between the spring term of 1916 and the autumn term of 1919.  He lived a full life following Harrow.

A further message from the school Librarian adds:

"Sadly, many of the photographic plates were let go by the school some years ago and passed to a local historian but were then sold on to a third party.

The archivist at the time did keep a portion and several thousands of the plates have been digitised and our in our archive collection.

 It looks like this third party is now selling the collection.


Comment by Bobbie Carnegie on December 14, 2020 at 14:24

Yes - Thanks David. And, what fascinating detail an old glass negative is able to reveal. Among the Ebay collection there are other Harrow Rifles 'soldiers' as well. The said 'lateral inversion' maybe because I flipped the image thinking the inscribed back-to-front handwriting on the neg as presented on Ebay had been wrongly scanned.  

Comment by Dr. Joe Rock on December 14, 2020 at 13:54

Brilliant work David! I have written to Harrow just to make sure they know about these images. I suspect they were in a group by the photographer and someone may have de-accessioned them, not realising they contained such really important images.

Comment by David Gobbitt on December 14, 2020 at 11:58

Both prints appear to be laterally inverted, judging from the buttons.

"J. H. Casteker" looks very much like John Henry Dives Costeker, who was born at Wandsworth in 1879 and died at Gallipoli in 1915. There is a portrait with his data at Find A Grave ( Findmypast subscribers can see an earlier one from his school days at Harrow (1893-96) in which the resemblance is even stronger.


Comment by Bobbie Carnegie on December 14, 2020 at 11:25

I wondered about this lad too. One sees the same Harrow Rifles badge on his cap.

Comment by Bobbie Carnegie on December 14, 2020 at 10:57

Comment by Bobbie Carnegie on December 14, 2020 at 10:55

I thought the young fellow's cap badge had a reference to a wheel re gun carriage, and that he could have been the 'triggerman's little helper' to carry and tidy around the guns when it had offloaded its shells. But, one sees Dr. Joe's cap-badge 'wreath' solves the issue. What dismays me is that Harrow School would want to get rid of these archival gems that could, at least, have been donated to a Harrow area family history archive. So many of the subjects on the negatives will no doubt have been locals, Harrow students and their families. The Ebay seller told me they have the old ledgers from the Harrow Hills & Saunders photo studio 

Comment by Dr. Joe Rock on December 14, 2020 at 10:20

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