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Friday, 3 April 2020

Portrait of a Lady: Sepia Saturday

This week's photograph from Sepia Saturday features a young lady sitting at a table, with a book in front of her. 

I immediately thought of the large photographic collection I inherited   from my great aunt Jennie, (left) which included many images of her friends. It seemed to be custom  to exchange such photographs  - the Facebook  of the day! 

The photographs were taken at local studios, mainly in Blackpool, Lancashire,   at a guess  around 1917-1921.  Props were popular with the sitter perched on "rocks" or pedestals, or sitting in ornate chairs against muted  landscape backcloths.     Many of Jenny's photographs  featured young children (friends' offspring?),  and  family groups with young men in uniform, looking apprehensive at the prospect of going to war.      Very fortunately Jenny had written   on the back in pencil her friends' names and I have tried to find more information on the names,  but with mixed success. 
Amy Dodd, the eldest of three sisters,  was a friend of Jennie's youngest brother George, who worked on the W.H. Smith station bookstall at Todmorden in West Yorkshire.  He served as a stretcher bearer in the field in the First World War  and was killed on the Somme in 1916, a week after his 22nd birthday.  



These two photographs of Annie Jolly are typical of the studio style at the time. There were strong  connections  between the Jolly and Danson families in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. In the 1901 census, Annie  could well be the two  year old Charlotte Annie Jolly, living at Queen's Square, Poulton, daughter of Edward and Jane Jolly. Edward was a joiner, like Jenie's father. Also in the household was Jane's sister Sarah Haydon Lounds, a domestic servant, who married Jenny's  eldest   brother, John Danson.   By the 1911 census Annie Jolly was aged 12, living at Longfield Avenue, Poulton with her uncle Richard Jolly, and his wife Isabella. Jenny's brother William (my grandfather) lived on the same road with his wife and young family.  

Nellie Jolly  - I particularly like this charming photograph, but I cannot  trace anything about Nellie.  The surname Jolly was a popular one in Poulton, and I looked under Helen, Ellen etc., but no luck.



A large medieval style chair for Elsie Oldham here, of my cousin's family.  


Sitting on a regal looking chair, an older Elsie Oldham with her cousin  Joseph Butler standing behind her - presumably in clean boots!    


I could not let this prompt pass by,  without showing this photograph which has appeared before on my blog and is crucial to my family history. 

"Who was that stern, rather Spanish looking woman sitting in the  imposing medieval style chair?"  This was the question  that started me on the family history trail when I found this photograph in a shoebox collection at my grandfather's house.   The answer -  my great grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe.   There was an apocryphal  story that her dark looks had come from sailors, who after the Armada were shipwrecked on the Fylde coast of Lancashire.

By her side, is her granddaughter Annie Maria (my mother's cousin)  who made her home with Maria after the early death of her own mother.  Annie was born 1905 and she looks to be around 11-12 years old in the picture, so I estimate it was was taken  c.1917.  Annie's father John Danson, died in 1917 in tragic circumstances at military camp,  a few months after the death of his brother George Danson on the  Somme,   No wonder that their mother Maria looks  forbidding here.     

And Finally 


Not a studio portrait, but here I am on my own little chair - a bit big for me  as   my feet don't touch  the ground.   The chair was passed down, with fresh covers,   to my daughter and granddaughter - but I never thought at the time to take a photograph of them in it. A pity! 


Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity 
to share their family history through photographs

 Click HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday bloggers
have been enjoying themselves.


  1. The photo of your Aunt Jennie's friend, Amy Dodd, is just elegant. The photo of Nellie Jolly in the white or light colored two-piece blouse and skirt struck me as being almost modern. With a different hairdo and shoes, she could walk down the street today in that outfit, and fit right in! The picture of your Aunt Jennie with her short finger or Marcel waved hair reminded me that I was supposed to have a haircut and perm on Monday, but the shop is closed due to the COVID-19 virus and I wonder when I'll be able to have that haircut & perm? Oh well - in the scheme of things, it's a small worry! I can always trim my bangs with my manicure scissors. :)

  2. Most of those photo studio chairs don't look too comfortable. Nice selection of vintage pictures.

  3. How fortunate that you can identify those beautiful photos.

  4. What a lovely set of photographs of your Aunt Jenny, friends and relatives. Now that we can all take selfies with our phones, the elegance of a studio portrait seems a thing of the past. But what a past, as this collection testifies.

  5. You do indeed have a wonderful collection. I had not thought about photos being traded with friends. That explains why I have an odd assortment of non-family pictures. That makes me wonder who has pictures of MY family.

  6. Terrific photos of elegant ladies.

  7. I enjoyed seeing this selection of photos of young women (including a grandmother with a rather stern visage). Thanks for sharing!

  8. Very handsome portraits. I think the chairs used in photos like these were marketed especially for photographers' studios. The eccentric oversized styles were hardly a typical household chair.

  9. Thank you all for your kind comments.


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