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Photograpic Studio Mounts: Country Information

Figure 1.--The boy here is John Robert. The portrait was taken by Shannon, Idington's Block, Market Square, Stratford. The question is it Stratford in England, Canada (Ontario), or America (Connecticut). As the province or state is not indicated, we tend to believe the boy is English.

The boy here is John Robert. The portrait was taken by Shannon, Idington's Block, Market Square, Stratford. The question is it Stratford in England, Canada (Ontario), or America (Connecticut). As the province or state is not indicated, we tend to believe the boy is English, but we are not sure. There are elements of this portrait that suggest Canada or America and others that suggest England. Thanks to a HBC reader, we now know that it was Canada.

John Robert

Here we have a portrait of John Robert. Unfortunately we have no information about his family. He looks to be about 10 years old. We awere not even entirely sure where John is from, but we now know it was Canadsa..


we know from the photographic mount that the portrait was taken at Idington's Block, Market Square in Stratford. The problem is that there are Stratford's scattered all around the English speaking world. We think it is England, but we are not at all sure. An English reader writes, "I have just checked on Google and indeed all three countries HAVE a Market Square in Stratford. The only thing I can say is that if it is England, then it will have to be Stratford as in Stratford-on-Avon in Warwickshire (Shakespeare's birthplace) as if it was Stratford, London, it would - of course - also have an 'E--' postcode with it." We wonder about "Idington Block". That does not seem American to us and we are not sure what it means. Generally American and Canadian studio mounts include the state or province, but not always. An American reader writes, "I go to Stratford, England, every year. There is a square with a fountain in Stratford where the weekly market is now held, but I am not sure it is actually called "Market Square." It could be, I think, Stratford, Warwickshire, Shakespeare's home town. Of course the offical name is Stratford-upon-Avon because there is another Stratford, located near London." A Canadian reader writes, "Just to add more confusion there is a Stratford in Ireland too, on the Eastern coast. Though I doubt the image is from Ireland. The font {style of the letters} of the word 'Shannon' looks very "Irish" if I may, the "H" and the "N" 's look particularly so. The Name Shannon is also prevalent in Ireland. Mostly in Northern Ireland but in Scotland as well. Though this choice of font could be simply because it was a business owned by an Irish person/family named Shannon. [HBC note: And of course there were many Irish immifrants in America and British colonies.] After reviewing what the other readers have written, and searching the internet in my best guess it is an English or Canadian Image, taken by a studio who's owners were of Irish decent and the boy lived in England or Canada. A local historian in either place should be able to say whether or not such a studio existed there. Perhaps an HBC reader may have connections to such a person? My hunch iwas that it's English." We know now that it is Canadian.

Young Shannon

Once again, our HBC readers have provided needed information. The photograoher;s first name was 'Young'. Young Shannon was born in Ireland (1847). His father was Henry Shannon and his wife Marion. He emigrated to Canada (1864) and by the time of the 1881 Census, he was established as a photographer at the Downie Street Gallery, 100 Downie, Stratford, Ontario, Canada. He was 35 years of age when he married a 32 year-old widow Ada Hawke (1887). She was the daughter of Alphius Chryster and his wife Sarah, at Brantford, Ontario. After his marriage, he moved his studio to Edington’s Place, Market Street. He also operted a studio at Idington’s Place, Market Square), Stratford, Ontario, Canada, by 1889. Trade Directories record his presence there in 1893. Cabinet photograph mounts record both addresses but with no indication as to the sequence. Young Shannon was in partnership with John Nicholson as photographers at 201 Dundas, London, Ontario, Canada. We do not know when the partnerhip began but we know it was functioning by 1899. Young Shannon crossed the border into America at Blaine, Washington (1907). The 1920 Census reports him as an established photographer at Fourth Street in San Diago, California. He died aged 73 on May 3, 1920 in San Diago. [Marfleet]


The clothing may provide some insights. John wears a Norfolk kneepants suit with a narrow bow, ribbed long stockings, and button shoes. There are several interesting aspects of John's suit. Notice how he keeps a handkerchief in the folds of his Norfolk suit. And his kneepants have two rather than three buttons. We are not, however, sure about the country conventions involved. There were more similarities among England, Canada, and America in the late-19th century than there was in the early 20th century. An English reader writes, "Now, I am no expert but I don't have many photos in which the boys have boots like this in England. However, the tartan necktie does indeed point to it being British." We do note this style of shoe/boot being commonly worn in America. The Eton collar and Norfolk were popular styles throughout the English speaking world. We think that the Eton collar was more popular in England than America, but the Eton collar was worn in America. The long stockings seem more common in America and Canada than America.

Mount Style

HBC has not yet closely studied studio mounts. Off hand, however, the mount here does not look American.


Marfleet, John. Personal communications (February 4, 2022).


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Created: 12:08 AM 1/15/2006
Last updated: 5:55 AM 2/4/2022