Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Presented as a proud Sepia Saturday post, I give you Mr Twist, or Trist, or something like that. This CdV was made in Edinburgh, Scotland in the 1860s. The card corners are square and the thin borders date this to roughly 1862-1863 but possibly as late as 1868. I am not up on my Scottish names, so the words written under the gentleman’s name look like Inverdown Lodge to me, but perhaps some of our international visitors could correct me if needed.

This photo shows Mr Twist as I will call him, in a fairly typical 1860s photographic studio setting. Early cameras yielded a large, clear image which resulted in these nice full body shots, although the very earliest cameras produced a small image that most times photographed the bust portrait that was so popular. The studio props are standard photography issue – chair, patterned rug and plain backdrop. After 1870, backdrops became more elaborate to the point of absurd in the 1880s; bearskin or other animal skin rugs flourished, and props such as artificial fencing (seen in a previous photo), planters, concrete walls, and other objects were used to simulate either the fancy drawing room or the outdoorsy setting. By the 1890s, the de minimus look had become popular and we go back to a variety of simple chairs, photos focused only on the subject in bust format, and the like.

Perhaps the inspiration for the photograph was a graduation from college, an appointment to an important position, or just a young man out to meet the ladies of Edinburgh. We shall never know, but we can enjoy this image today, 150 years on from it’s origination.

UPDATES: Iggy corrected my spelling/reading of the photographer’s name as Horsburgh, and noted he was at the address on the card beginning in 1868. Given the parameters of the card itself dating the photo at the latest to 1868, we’ll go with that year. Secondly, Brett Payne suggested the location could have been Inverardran Lodge. Iggy provided a link in his comment if you’d like to see the lovely gigantic mansion estate guest house.

16 thoughts on “Mr Twist, I presume?

  1. IntenseGuy says:

    You have spent some time today reading miserable handwriting!

    The photographer’s name awas John HORSburgh and you can read everything (and much more) than you care to about him here:


    He was at 131 Princes Street from 1868 to 1898.

    As for Mr. Twist and the Lodge… I’m nearly blind trying to make those out!


  2. IntenseGuy says:

    I’m thinking that Mr. Twist might have been a Mason. The lodge might have been the one belonged to.

    Inveraray Lodge?

    Unfortunately – it looks more like Inverardran to me.

    http://www.lovetoescape.com/rrps/holiday_property/inverardran_guest_house_b&b_crianlarich-15428.html but that would be a nice “crib”. :)


  3. Brett Payne says:

    I think the place could be written “Inverardorn Lodge,” perhaps a mistake for Inverardran as suggested by IG. Alternatively, there is a place called Inverard House in Edinburgh. The subjects name, I believe, is “Mr. Tait.” Sadly, there were 32 Mr Taits of approximately the right age in Edinburgh alone in 1861 – and of course he could have been visiting from further afied – so it’s difficult to know which to choose.

    What a great image and evaluation, thanks for sharing it.


  4. Christine says:

    Great image. I know that my eye is being drawn to the wrong thing – not the man, but the floor. I’d love to see a close-up of the floor. When I moved into my house years ago it had linoleum that looked just like this, perhaps modeled after old floors like this one.


  5. Bob Scotney says:

    I trying to get my right hand in the same position as his. It looks almost artificial. Interesting detective work has been done by yourself and the others.


  6. I noticed the hand too, as if he was covering something in his pocket. Not working man’s hands, perhaps even deformed? Interesting photo and history.


  7. This is a really great photo and I enjoyed your information. I was looking at how much the pattern of the floor adds so much to the picture.

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend,

    Kathy M.


  8. Little Nell says:

    I see what the other posters mean about this young man’s hand. Worse than that, after Christine’s comment about the floor, my own eye was drawn to the ‘third foot’ – deformed indeed! I expect it was the base for some kind of stand which held him firmly in place so as not to make any movements and blur the photograph. It’s great to learn so much from reading one post. Thank you.


  9. postcardy says:

    I think he moved his right hand while he was being photographed. I assume the exposure time was fairly long.


  10. Howard says:

    Why has no-one mentioned the trousers! I mean, look at them! The turn-ups could double-up as storage space! And the weird chair, very high back but very short legs and castors on the feet. Very odd.


  11. Alan Burnett says:

    What a fascinating photograph and post – and a splendid example of the kind of collaborative research that makes blogging worthwhile.


  12. Muse Swings says:

    Thought you had a photo of Lee Harvey Oswald up there for a minute. I like the name Twist – it has a nicer twist to it that the Truit I see as the name…or Twist or …


  13. Muse Swings says:

    As a matter of fact, I think it’s Truitt. He’s got that double t thing going there.


  14. I too noticed the pants and their deep cuffs..and the posing stand..very nice CdV:)


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