20th century, research

Help Me Date Some Photos!

Late 19th/early 20th century is not my absolute forte, so I wonder if they are someone else’s!  I have some older family photos that I’d love help dating.  None of them have enough clues for me to figure them out on my own.

Mary Ridyard Daniels, born 1866, died after 1920. William Daniels, born 1850, died 1913.
Both were born and lived in England. They married in 1884.

Here’s where it gets tricky, because the rest are German/English circus performers

Simon Levy Blumenfeld, born 1828 in Germany, moved to England in the 1880s, died there in 1911. Wilhelmina Constance Blennow, born 1841 in Germany, moved to England in the 1880s, died there in 1915. The couple married about 1858. Performed throughout Western Europe.

Baptist Blumenfeld, born 1868 in Germany, died 1943 in New York. Performed throughout Western Europe and the United States.

Gertrude Daniels Blumenfeld, born 1884 in England, died 1944 in New York. Baptist's wife -- they married in 1910, she didn't start performing until after their marriage. Retired from performing in the 1920s.

Another shot of Gertrude.

The Six Salores: 1. Amy (aka Ruby) Simpson Blumenfeld (1886 England - 1963 US), wife of Paul Blumenfeld. 2. William Blumenfeld (1876 Germany - 1963 US). 3. Beatrice Daniels Blumenfeld (1889 England - 1983 US), wife of William. 4. Paul Blumenfeld (1874 Germany - 1963 US). 5. Gertrude Daniels Blumenfeld. 6. Baptist Blumenfeld. All three men were brothers; Beatrice and Gertrude were sisters. The act performed in England and the US from about 1910 through the 1920s.

Top row: Gertrude Daniels Blumenfeld, Beatrice Daniels Blumenfeld. In swing: Paul Blumenfeld. Laying across Paul: Baptist Blumenfeld. Hanging from Paul: William Blumenfeld. Again, must be between 1910 and the 1920s.

Can you spot any clues?

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  • Reply Rae Arnold January 11, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I’m by no means an expert, but based on what Mary Daniels is wearing in the first photo, it is likely 1897 or later. The silhouette and sleeves are not right for earlier years.

    Based entirely on her hair style and other similar photos from the 1920s, I’d place the first one of Gertrude as very late-teens or sometime in the 1920s. It is hard to tell, since the image is so small, but I think she has longer hair that is twisted and braided up to give the short look.

    Although he is wearing essentially the same shirt, Baptist looks like he has less hair up top in the portrait of him compared to the group of six, so that former was likely taken later than the latter. It could just be lighting and angle, though.

    The other single shot of Gertrude is odd… I think she may be wearing fancy dress or some sort of costume, as the dress doesn’t look right for any period where she would have been an adult.

  • Reply kendra January 11, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Thanks Rae! Yes, I agree, Gertrude is probably wearing stage costumes in both individual portraits.

  • Reply Elizabeth January 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I would say 1909-1912 for the first picture, late 1880’s on the second picture, 1890’s-1900 on the 3rd picture, early to mid-1920’s on 4 and 5, early 1910’s for number 6 and the only thing I can deduce from the 7. is that it is most likely taken before the 1920’s because none of the ladies seem to have bobbed their hair yet.

  • Reply Jessamyn January 12, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I would say:

    1. Circa 1912. Compare the hat to the one on the lady 3rd from left in this photo taken on the Titanic that year:

    2. Mid-1880s. Bangs are typical of that decade. But by the late 1880s sleeves were narrowing onto the shoulder and developing a pouf at the top.

    3. ? Not good at men!

    4. & 5. Circa 1910. Those bandeaux were popular from before 1910 through to about 1920, but you wouldn’t see a corset like that after 1913. Note coiffures here (1910):


    6. & 7. circa 1918-1923 or so. These giant bows were popular even earlier; witness this 1915 May Queen and her court:

    But the incredibly sack-like quality of the women’s garments in 7 pushes me closer to 1919-21, the most sack-like time for women’s clothes of all the waistless fashion years. Earlier garments have a more fitted torso and later ones have more hip volume. Note the progression in the images here:

    Compare your ladies with these Mack Sennett Bathing Beauties from 1919:

    Also, note these bathing-suited contestants, including long hair styles, in 1921:

  • Reply MaryD January 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    There are ways of dating photographs based on the imprints on the backs. Juanita Leisch gives a description of some of the technique in her book, “Who Wore What,” though it emphasizes earlier photo identification techniques. Still, it’s something to explore–and can give greater precision than looking at the clothes (which can be misleading, especially in fancy dress situations).

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