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Sepia Saturday: The book – a prop or a precious object?

Sepia Saturday 514 : Woman Sitting In A Chair

This week’s prompt ‘Woman sitting on a chair‘ is a quite lovely studio portrait that, like most studio portraits of the time, tells the observer a great deal about the subject.

The woman’s clothing, hairstyle and serious demeanor combine to tell us that she is from an affluent background. The studio props such as the ornate chair, the elaborate cloth on the table and the pretty backdrop all reinforce that view.

During this era books were used as props to indicate that the subject was well educated. .

My photographs

Minnie Margaret Hicks (1862-1961)

This studio portrait of is of Minnie Margaret Hicks, an elegant young woman from my paternal family.

Instead of using props to ‘tell a story’ the photographer has used a deep fade effect to accentuate the Minnie’s elegance. This is reinforced by the hand-tinting on the original,

Minnie Margaret Hicks seems to be carrying a program or dance card. I wonder if that is meant to indicate her personality and interests. No heavy books for Minnie?


Help needed from the net ‘brains trust’

Unknown readers

This cute photo is from my as yet unidentified pile of family photos. The two girls appear to be sitting in a garden in front of a tartan blanket that is being used as a back drop. I would dearly like help from this group’s brains trust to find out the name of the magazine that they are reading as well as the name of the cowboy on the front cover.

This may help me date the magazine and reduce the number of ‘suspects’ .

Elizabeth Campbell Laughlin (1866-1955)

The second photo was taken of my maternal great-grandmother Elizabeth Campbell LAUGHLIN while she was sitting in the garden of her farm at Batar’s Creek, near Kendall New South Wales. Elizabeth was born in Paisley, Scotland and came to Australia, along with her her parents and siblings, as a nine year old Bounty immigrant in 1875

I am 99% sure that the book my great-grandmother is reading is the Bible or some other religious tract. Her father Robert LAUGHLIN [1837-1896] was an elder in the Presbyterian Church and her husband Henry John EVERINGHAM [1860-1943] was deeply involved in the Salvation Army.

I also sense that my great grandmother’s chair is not a prop. In all likelihood it is a favourite chair taken from the verandah.

Some snap, eh kid?

Alma Catherine Charlotte Pritchard (1907-1999)

This casual photograph of Alma PRITCHARD sitting reading in the garden of the family property Ivy Mount was sent by Alma to her cousin, my great aunt IRIS HARRIS.

Alma had the wonderful habit of writing on the back of all of her photos. The inscription on this photo is “ Love from Alma 17/7/25” Then she has written “One of the latest. Some snap eh kid? Taken last Sunday

While the grass grows….

Unknown c. 1925

The image is also from my unidentified collection but is highly likely of a young woman from the paternal side of my family. Instead of pretending to read, the subject seems to be totally engrossed in her book.

i love the way she is perched on her chair in the long grass right at the back of the yard. A quiet spot for reading perhaps?

4 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday: The book – a prop or a precious object? Leave a comment

  1. Great family photos completely in sync with the prompt! Pretty hard to read the title of the magazine the girls are pouring over. Almost looks like “Photoplay”. It was first published in 1911.


  2. Well done. A perfect set for our reading theme. Looking at your subjects concentrating on a book, I was struck by how similar they are to people in our time lost in a smartphone. But I doubt a modern photo of grandma checking her Instagram likes would have the same charm.


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