Photographs I've gleaned from flea markets, junk shops and sometimes ebay. The cheaper the better. Anything with a story that can be extracted from hand written notes, location research, local histories, census records......anything. A small band of fellow enthusiasts worldwide have helped me with many of these. Of course there are always mysteries that defy research, but there's even a story inside these. All images can be viewed at super-size on Flickr.

Thursday 2 August 2012

Hong Kong - Canton steamboat captains

Captain Lossius and his wife aboard SS Kinshan. Hong Kong - Canton Line. 1900s.
Captain Lossius and his wife on the deck of SS Kinshan.

I found these three photos in a flea market in England. Having spent my childhood in Hong Kong I was quite thrilled to come across them. I've managed to find out a great deal about these people thanks to various on-line databases and helpful individuals.....

Norwegian-born Jacob (a.k.a. Iacob) Johan Lossius (1853 -1942) and his wife Agnes Mary Potter Lossius (d. 1938). They were married in Liverpool in 1877. Both are buried in Hong Kong cemetery, Happy Valley. The SS Kinshan was a steamer which ran between Hong Kong and Canton. She was captured by the Japanese in WW2 and became the "Hachian Maru". She was sunk by USS Thresher, Dec. 30 1942.

(Below) Captain AW Dixon exercising with Indian clubs on the deck of the SS Sainam.

Captain Arthur Wesley Dixon on the deck of paddle steamer 'Sainam' (Hong Kong, Canton and Macau steamboat company). Xi River, China. Exercising with Indian clubs.Article from the 'The Adelaide Advertiser'. 17th July 1906: A number of Chinese pirate junks last week attacked the paddle steamer Sainam, 588 tons, Captain A.W. Dixon, belonging to the Hong Kong, Canton and Macau steamboat company, near Etuchow. They overpowered the officers and crew of the vessel, and murdered the Rev. Dr. MacDonald, who was a passenger. Captain Dixon and the Chief Engineer were seriously wounded. The shallow-draught river gunboat, Moorhen, 180 tons, attached to the China squadron, has been dispatched to the scene of the outrage.

Dixon survived and is recorded as having died in Shanghai in 1928.

Friday 27 July 2012


Cricket on the beach. Unidentified location

My contribution to the Sepia Saturday theme. Some recent finds from the flea markets. A cricket match on an unidentified beach. A team of athletes from the British Workers' Sports Federation giving the raised-fist salute. The BWSF were a mainly communist organisation and the occasion is probably one of the Workers' Olympiads in the 1930s, maybe the one in Antwerp in 1937. Lastly, the cheerful 'Womens' League of Health and Beauty' parading through what looks like an English seaside town (maybe Brighton, where I found it).

British Workers' Sports Federation (BWSF) team. 1930s. The women's league of health and beauty.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Sutton Hoo, Suffolk. 1939. Previously unseen photographs.

Excavation of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial. Sutton Hoo, Suffolk. 1939

There was some excitement last year when a set of previously unseen photos of the 1939 Sutton Hoo ship excavation were discovered. Most of the original official photographs were destroyed during the war. I found these two in a flea market last week. There hasn't been a flurry of press interest this time, however. Oh well.....

 Excavation of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial. Sutton Hoo, Suffolk. 1939.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Captured British seamen aboard German raider 'Pinguin'. 1940.

Captured crew and passengers of the merchant ship 'Port Wellington', on board German auxilliary cruiser (hilfskreuzer) 'Pinguin'. November 1940.

One of my colleagues at work, Roy Johnson, knows that I collect old photos and just mentioned in passing "Oh, I have a photo of my father on board the German raider that sank his ship and captured him during the war". I had to see this! Thanks Roy for letting me use these scans. Roy's father, Albert, was a member of the crew of the Port Wellington, which was attacked by the German auxiliary cruiser (hilfskreuzer) 'Pinguin' on 30th November 1940. Most of the crew and seven female passengers were captured. Here we see them all on the deck of the Pinguin. The first officer of the Pinguin was kind enough to go back on board the Port Wellington before she was scuttled to retrieve clothes for the women. The Pinguin herself was sunk by the Royal Navy the following year. Below is Albert in 'Marlag und Milag Nord' POW camp in Germany. That's him on the front row at the far right.

British merchant navy POWs. Marlag und Milag Nord POW camp, near Westertimke, Germany.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Ezidor Bennett, photographer. Manchester. 1870s.

By chance I came across several of these group photos by the same Manchester photographer, Ezidor Bennett. An old newspaper article tells us that he went bankrupt in 1876, which helps date them. He appears to have specialised in these groups of children. Many of them appear quite down-at-heel. The photos may have been paid for by an orphanage or church charity. Though small, these photos preserve a great deal of detail, which only becomes evident with the help of a scanner and photoshop.

 Group of children. Manchester. 1870s. Children. Manchester. 1870s (enlarged detail) Children. Manchester. 1870s (enlarged detail) Group of children. Manchester. 1870s Group of children. Manchester. 1870s (enlarged detail) Group of boys. Manchester. 1870s.