Our December Photo of the Month is a new but somewhat puzzling acquisition. With no recorded details we simply know nothing about this intriguing photo recently received from a deceased estate, Mr DA Cameron of Dunedin. So what can this image still tell us? Obvious at first is the elegantly painted four wheeled horse drawn sprung “phaeton” carriage, the men holding an accordion and a tambourine along with a stone crock of beverage (ginger beer?). Then on closer inspection we note the two men holding cricket bats, the clothes almost bordering on Sunday best, the coats piled up on the carriage, and the rural setting. Obviously a musical / sports/ picnic party who have now reached their destination, but what was the occasion and why no women? Could all 11 people fit on the one carriage? Possibly at a squeeze and judging by the pile of coats on the carriage they probably did. But why so few people on this outing?
As to the time period, the style of clothing appears entirely consistent with the period from around 1900 to 1914. A professional photographers stamp appears in the bottom left hand corner “Austin & Son, 42 Princes Street, Dunedin”. What can this tell us? Two other historical sources show that “Austin & Son” Photographers operated under this specific name from at least 1906 but by 1915 had been joined in business by another son. Therefore this information confirms our “guestimate” of the date by simply using the style of clothing as a dating tool. Of course one then has to assume that the photographer, Mr Austin, was fortuitously a member of this select little group captured by the camera lens for posterity. Yes, I’m sure they did indeed have a jolly good time.
Any further information that may help us identify this image would be appreciated.
By : Donald Cochrane, Curator of Photographs.