I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me at familyphotoreunion [ at ] yahoo [ dot ] com. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Gem Portrait of Miss Gertrude Womersley, Bradford, Yorkshire, England, Circa 1882

This little image is called a "gem" tintype.  The tintype itself measures 1/2" X 1" and is mounted on a carte de visite-sized card.  These tiny pictures were produced from the 1860s right through to about 1890.  They were popular choices for mounting on jewellery due to their small size. 

This girl of about 8 to 10 years old is identified on the reverse of the card as "Gertrude Womersley."  The photographer's imprint on the reverse reads, "From T. Taylor's American Gem Studio, 72, Market Street, Bradford.  Opposite Town Hall."  Tintypes were far more common in America than overseas, and so there were a number of studios in England advertising "American Gems," including Taylor's.  Bradford is located in Yorkshire, England. 

While investigating T. (Thomas) Taylor's studio, I learned that he had a chain of American Gem Studios in various locations from about 1863 to 1890.  I couldn't find specific dates for the Bradford studio, but I do know that he was operating there 1881-1882 because I found another image from this studio, dated 1881.  I also found an advertisement from 1882, with the 72 Market Street address, in a photographic journal.   The image and mount from the 1881 picture are quite similar to this one. 

The England Censuses provided a number of Gertrude Womersleys.  One caught my eye, however.  Gertrude Maria Louisa Womersley, born 1872 in Scarborough, Yorkshire, daughter of Zillah Womersley seems to be a most likely candidate1.  Nine years old in 1881, and living in Bradford, she is the closest in age to the girl in the photograph if (and this is a big if) the image was taken around 1881-1882.

If this is, indeed, the young girl in the photograph, there is much that can be found about her in later censuses and records.  What do you think? 

1 "England and Wales Census, 1881," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XQJV-NRZ : accessed 19 Aug 2012), Gertrude Maria Louisa Womersley in household of Zillah Womersley, Bradford, Yorkshire (West Riding), England; citing PRO RG 11/4446 / 132 folio, p. 35, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey; FHL microfilm 1342063.


  1. I think it would be fascinating to learn how this charming little photo found its way to west coast of North America.

  2. Yes, I do wonder how it got here. Perhaps if we found the correct Gertrude and traced her descendants, there might be a British Columbia connection there.