Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why do we have a picture of Mary Collis Taylor? - Revisited

So I've been studying the picture of Mary Collis Taylor again. I've been looking through fashion books and websites trying to determine when the picture was taken by dating the clothing she was wearing. And I've come to a shocking conclusion...it can't possibly be Mary Collis Taylor in that picture.

La Couturiere Parisienne has been a valuable site in searching on fashion in the 1800s. And wouldn't you know it...they show a fashion plate that is very similar to the dress in the Mary Collis picture. They have dated it Autumn 1880. I also used Fashion Era, Edwardian & Victorian Photographs - Roger Vaughn Personal Collection, and Liverpool Photographers in the process of dating this and other photographs.

After talking with my cousin, she looked through her files and found a scan of the entire Mary Collis picture.Wow! There's a lot more to the picture than I thought there was. Unfortunately, there is no photographers stamp on the bottom to help in location or date. But the dress is clearly after 1870. But the girl can't be more than 16. By 1870, Mary Collis Taylor was 24. If the picture is later than that--1880 for example, it make it even more impossible.

So if it isn't Mary Collis Taylor, who is it?

My first thought was a sister. If the picture is as late as 1877 or 1880 it could be Annie M Taylor, Charles Jr's, sister. Here is a photograph of her after her marriage. But my cousin doesn't think her face is shaped the same as the Mary Collis picture. What do you think?

But a few other questions come in then. This girl is wearing a very well-made dress. If Annie was a servant where would she get the money for such an expensive dress? Marianne apparently worked for her living by then as well (1881 Census). So who had the money for really nice clothes? I speculated that it might have been taken at the same time as Charles Taylor (Jr)'s picture with the Derby hat...but that has a photographer's name listed and the mat doesn't match this one.

However, look at this:

George Henry Taylor - Charles Taylor [Jr] - ? Taylor

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