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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Sepia Saturday 191: Three of a Kind

Three brothers, three sisters, three generations, parent with children, child with her aunts ...
I found a few of these groupings of three in my collection, but there are several unidentified photographs in an old family album of cartes de visite inherited from my aunt that I can't immediately fit into the family tree of the album owners, so the identity of their subjects is a matter for speculation.

Photographer Charles Lawrence, Christchurch
Photographer E Dossetter, Christchurch

Photographer Grand and Dunlop, Christchurch

It seems likely that these smartly dressed young men were brothers, or perhaps they could have been cousins, but are they the same three in each photograph, with the last photograph  having been taken some years after the other two? The first photograph looks to have been taken at a beach, despite the formality of their outfits, while the second and third are clearly posing in a studio. They were all taken by different professional photographers who were in business in Christchurch New Zealand from around 1870 onwards, but if only I knew more!

Photograph by W H Neal, Cambridge NZ
Photographer unknown

Here are another couple of threesomes from the same album. One is of a solemn group that surely comprises two sisters and a brother, who look like they would rather be off making mischief, and the other happier photograph is of a fond father and his two young children. Such  a shame that although these families went to the trouble having these formal photographs taken, the album compiler did not feel it necessary to record any details in the index as to 'who was who' which would have enabled them to be identified by future generations. The album itself was received by a 3x great uncle of mine, Frederick William Young, as a school prize in 1881, when he would have been aged 16. He was one of ten children born to his parents Charles Young and Jane Paterson, who had emigrated to New Zealand  from Glenmuick Aberdeenshire in 1851 and had settled in Kaiapoi. In later life Frederick became well-known as a Canon of the Anglican Church and lived to the venerable age of ninety-seven. 

Mona and her sisters in their floral outfits

Jean with her aunties

Bess and Flo in more florals, with their great niece, 1953
Above are three more recent family groups of three. The first is of my grandmother Mona Mary Morrison with her sisters Bessie Irene and Flora Euphemia Forbes, two of whom feature as much younger women in my first post, Boating on the Avon. The sisters were about 10 years older than my grandmother, and were dressmakers by profession, so no doubt they made all their own clothes. I wonder what shades these floral dresses would have been 'in real life'? They certainly look to have been made to very much the same design, and the expression 'peas in a pod' comes to mind!  The second snap is of my mother Jean with her doting maiden aunties, always known as Bess 'n Flo, who lived together all their lives. This picture would have been taken around 1935. Some fifteen years later they lovingly and painstakingly created my mother's wedding gown, incorporating a length of beautiful Swiss lace sent from Geneva by my aunt as a wedding gift to her sister, and they also made her baby's christening gown..

Finally, just a few three generation family photographs, of the same family but from different times:

 Grandfather Charles Cruickshank, father Oliver 
and baby son Ian, circa 1924

                                              By 1953, Charles is no longer around, but Ian is now a new father and Oliver a grandfather

Granddad Oliver showing son and grandson  that he can still chop wood? 1982


  1. I always find early family photographs so fascinating and you have some wonderful examples.

  2. Those floral outfits must have been qite eyecatching in colour! Perhaps you are right about using the same pattern. Lovely family album shots too.

  3. You had a goldmine of trios in your collection. My favorite is the trio of florals. I was interested in Flora's second name Euphemia. My great grandfather was Euphemius and his wife was Euphegenie. Don't hear those names too often anymore. Those maiden aunties (I had some too) add a dimension to life that children rarely enjoy anymore. I loved the last series of three photos as Oliver ages. Excellent post.

  4. My favorite of your lovely collection is following the three men - Charles, Oliver, Ian, & the bearded addition. Great on-down-the-line shots.

  5. Loved the men's clothes in the last photo !

  6. Jo, I'm adding your blog to my RSS feeds. So pleased to see you following the Ku-ring-gai H S blog that I work on with Jackie from Jax Trax.

    You have a fantastic collection of threesomes, thank you for sharing them with us.

    1. Thanks Jill. I was actually a member of KHS before we moved from Turramurra to Melbourne in 2005. Good to see it is still going strong!

  7. The first two photos you have side by side ... The one on the right made me 'jump' when I looked at it for the first time. It is very similar to one of my planned pictures for next week that I had been looking at this morning!!!! Lovely pictures!

  8. You ladies from Australia have tremendous collections of old family photos as you post confirms. I wonder whether our families had anything similar - if so they are long gone.

  9. They are all good, but I particularly like the one with the fellow in the big round-top hat, and that last one is a real pip! Takes me right back to the 70s.

  10. Love Flora and her sisters in their florals!

  11. What an insight to the past and what they wore! Great Post!

  12. What a great collection! I love the three little boys, but the father and his children photo has so much more 'life' in it due to their happy facial expressions.

  13. Those floral dresses are wonderful but I really like those top hats. They look too young to be wearing grown-up clothes :)

  14. Nice collection of family threes. I especially like the 3 florals.

  15. Great threesomes, your last one is just a treasure! I like how in the first three the lads removed their hat, except in the 3rd photo only one removed his hat for the photo!

  16. The last three photos were a winning ticket!! What a great threesome of the generations.

  17. The first portrait of the three brothers is almost certainly not taken on a real beach. Many studios had painted beachscape backdrops and fake papier mache rocks which they used extensively. The most bizarre were located in towns which were nowhere near the sea!

  18. I just love that photo of Bess and Flo with your mother. It's a treat :) Great blog Jo - I'm glad I found you.