Mystery Photos

(For other Watson – Muir and related family photographs check out Donald Slater’s Flickr account

The photos posted on this page have no names. Hopefully readers of this blog will recognize faces, or be able to compare these photos with ones in their family history collections. The individuals in these photos are likely from the WATSON, MUIR, HALL and extended lines.

The following photographs are in the carte de visite format. A carte de visite is a thin paper photograph mounted on a thicker paper card. The size of the photograph is approximately 2.15 inches X 3.5 inches (54.0 mm × 89 mm) mounted on a heavy card measuring approximately 2.5 inches X 4 inches (64 mm × 100 mm). This format of photograph was prevalent in the 1860s and 1870s.

The carte de visite or ‘photograph card’ was the size of a ‘visiting card’ also known as a ‘calling card’. The photographs shown here differ from a true visiting card in that there are no names printed on the cards. Often an artistic design was placed on the reverse. Aristocrats and wealthy individuals would leave a visiting or calling card in accordance with the strict rules of etiquette of the day. These rules dictated that a person would not expect to see another person without first leaving a calling card with the servant who opened the door.

This inflexible practice depended on there being servants to open the door to receive the cards – an unthinkable luxury that was not available to any of the ancestors that I have yet discovered in TheirOwnStories. However photograph cards were enormously popular and were traded among friends and family, a situation that was clearly enjoyed by the people in these photographs.

This carte de visite format of photograph was prevalent in the 1860s and 1870s, although likely continued past that time. Style of clothing of the individuals in the photographs can also provide clues to dates. All photographs in this page are from the author’s collection, and have come from the box inherited from my great-grandmother Jane (MUIR) WATSON. They were brought with her when she immigrated from Scotland to Saskatchewan in 1910.

Who are these people? I hope you can help.

Photo right: Unknown-0003; carte de visite format. No design on the reverse of the photo. I have always wondered if this is Thomas WATSON 1827-1878? The 1871 census tells us that Thomas Watson and his family were on Mount Oliphant Farm near Ayr Scotland and that Thomas was a ‘farmer of 70 arable acres’. Perhaps he fancied himself as a ‘gentleman farmer’?Unknown_0003

Photo below: Unknown-0004 and Unknown-0004a (front and back of photo); carte de visite format. William Grant was the photographer, the name ‘KUNGU..’ might mean Kingussie, Fife? However, no family have yet been discovered in Fife from this period. Also, the kilt is confusing. Research to date indicates that this is not a military uniform, only suggestion so far is that this couple have dressed in their finery for a special event. The kilt is also confusing as most of the Watson / Muir family were from the lowlands of Scotland; an area where kilts were not normally worn.

Unknown_0004 Unknown_0004a


Photo left: Unknown-0005; carte de visite format. No design on reverse of photo.

Unknown_0007 Unknown_0007aPhoto right: Unknown-0007 and Unknown-0007a; carte de visite format.

WATSON_unkn_0008Photo left: Unknown-0008; carte de visite format, no design on reverse of photo.

Photos below: Unknown-0013 and Unknown-0014; carte de visite format.

Unknown_0013 Unknown_0014

Photos below: Left to right Unknown-0015, Unknown-0016 and Unknown-0017; carte de visite format.

Unknown_0015 Unknown_0016 Unknown_0017

 Photos above Unknown-0013 to Unknown-0017 were all taken by ‘Kyles Artist and Photographer, 29 Newmarket St., Ayr’ (see design below)


More photographs will be added ……

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