Meet the Family
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Corsets and Crinolines - unique vintage clothing

Tidbits : Meet the Family


Many people have old family photographs but unless they are dated, those who unfamiliar with costume, often find it frustrating to put a date on a photo. I am so lucky to have in my possession, these precious photos of family members- some of which I am directly descended from and others who are distant relatives and that I am familiar enough with clothing to be able to date these wonderful photos.

So may I introduce, My Family...

Possibly the earliest photos in my collection are two from the 1870's which show relatives of my uncle, Peter Pinkerton who lives in Montreal. Both of these photos were taken by the famous photographer, William Notman and more Notman photos of the Pinkerton family can be seen at the Mc Cord Museum in Montreal and at the National Archive of Canada. Both my cousins, Robbie and Jason and my uncle bear a striking family resemblance to these ladies.

The first Pinkerton lady wears a c. 1873- 1875 bustle gown and stands in a fashionable forward "Grecian Bend" stance which emphasized the bustle. She wears her hair in the fashionable braid on the top of her head and wears the requisite "loud" jewelery of the 1870's, dangly earrings and a chunky necklace. Her bodice has dropped shoulder seams of the first half of the 1870's and she wears a long light colored sash with plaid ends which hangs down at the side of the bustle skirt. Her large bustled skirt has flounces and is trained.

This wealthy Pinkerton lady was lived in Westmount, Montreal very near to where my Aunt and Uncle live now and according to my aunt, this lady met an untimely death in her grand house when she tripped on her skirt and fell down the stairs! She wears a very fashionable princess style gown from c. 1876- 1878. The bodice has dropped shoulder seams and is very close fitting. The bottom of the dress has a multitude of decoration which consists of ruching, pleats, beading which all lead out to the long train at the back. You can just see the edge of her trained petticoat poking out from under the skirt's hem.

This c. 1883 photo shows my great, great grandparents on my maternal grandmother's side, Priscilla Tredrea and Francis Lloyd. They were normal working class people wearing their best clothes for the photographer. Priscilla wears a lovely feather "Gainsborough" hat which became fashionable during the early years of the 1880's and she wears a tight fitting walking jacket over her bodice. You can just see the pleated edge of the bustle skirt on the right side. Note her tight fitting leather gloves. Frances is a little less nicely dressed with his sack jacket open at the waist to show off his watch fob. He wears a wide tie with his fold down shirt collar and holds is bowler hat in his hand.

An 1890's photo showing the very poor relations, my great, great grandparents on my maternal grandfather's side, Samuel Gregory and Mary Westhill. Photos of poorer elderly people can be very hard to date as they tended to wear the same clothes for ages and did not keep up to date with fashion. This photo is very rare and interesting as it shows what the poor people wore! Samuel's sack coat is wrinkled and he wears a limp, unstarched wrinkled stock tie. His waistcoat has worn edges with holes clearly visible. Mary bodice is ill fitting with the hooks and eyes straining at the bust and her skirt is very wrinkled. I am not even sure if she is wearing a corset or if it is just a very ill fitting one. Her matron's bonnet is typical of what elderly women wore in the late 19th century.

As a contrast, my great grandmother Emma Gregory (aged 22 years in this photo) who was Samuel and Mary's daughter, tries at least to keep up with current fashion as shown by her leg 'o mutton sleeve gown. This narrower style of Leg 'O Mutton sleeve became fashionable about 1891 but due to the Gregory's financial status, it is unlikely that Emma would have taken up this fashion at it's absolute beginning which probably dates the photo to the mid 1890's. The photo is interesting as you can see the crease marks in her skirt from sitting!

A c. 1895 cabinet card photo of relatives on my maternal grandmother's side- possibly my great, great, great aunts. This was the wealthy side of the family and their clothing shows it. The lady standing with the pinched expression wears a fashionable boater hat trimmed with ribbon and feathers over her severe pulled back hairstyle. Her well made bodice has large Leg 'O Mutton Sleeves and fastens down the front with buttons. She holds her leather gloves in her hand. The older seated lady wears clothing more reminiscent of the 1880's with the plain cuirass type bodice and slim fitting sleeves. Her toque bonnet is also late 1880's in style but this is the time lag in fashion which was typical of older women.

My great grandfather George Peter Jarvis, husband of Emma Gregory, shown in a c. 1905- 1910 photograph. Although my grandfather's family was not rich, George spent money on his clothing always getting things tailor made. He was a member of the Masons and when he died in the 1910's, the Masons paid for his grave. My grandfather, who was born in 1903, then had to go out to work and support his mother Emma along with several siblings! George is wearing a VERY smart and probably newly bought for the photo, frock coat along with a well fitting shirt and waistcoat. Note the watch chain on full display and his finely sculpted handle-bar mustache!

All photos are from the collection of L. Hidic