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Dating Old Photographers

D.A. De Maus (1847-1925)
He became known for his photographs of ships at Port Chalmers. These are prized by maritime institutes. Does anyone have any additional information on the photographer David Alexander De Maus who came to New Zealand in 1867 in the Caribou at the age of 20?  He was born in Edinburgh in 1847. Toured the West Coast goldfields with humorous songs and sketches. He arrived in Port Chalmers and started a photography business and became active in the local sports clubs and town council. He served as councillor for Port Chalmers (1877-78, 1884-1888) and was mayor four times 1899-1901, 1903-06, 1909-1910 and 1912-13. He died on 17th July 1925, aged 77.

South Canterbury Museum Photograph Collection

Approx. 12,000 catalogued images. Negative collections from Bremford, Kalksma and Langwood. Approx 30,000 packets. The museum purchased all the negatives from Bremford Studio and in this is packages from Kinghams, unfortunately the negatives only go back to 1969 as before that they were damaged by water. Kinghams Photo Service LTD  288 Stafford Street Timaru Box 311 Phone 3924

The Photographers  Database is an index to photographers who have worked in New Zealand from the 1840s to the present day.
Photography timeline.
Early Canterbury photographers
Bremford, Syd A 276 Stafford Street, Timaru 1941, 1948/9, 1952; Arcade, Timaru 1948/9
Kingham, Henry H - 1920, Timaru, Royal Arcade, Timaru 1925, 1932; 13 Royal Arcade, Timaru 1937, 1939. Kinghams Camera Shop
Langwoods Studio 175a Stafford Street, Timaru 1952

South Canterbury, NZ

The John Worthington family.  1914

Guess the decade?

Many family historians possess a number of unidentified and undated photographs. There are various means to determine the date a photographs including the type, the photographer, the dress and fashion(s) of the day and the backgrounds and subject posture. The props and items within the photo represent the time period such as vintage cars, household items, clothing, shoes, parasols, aprons, decorative details, children's clothing, hats, jewellry etc. Other clues include: hair length on young men, hem length on young women, general hair styles etc.

In the photo above we know Enid Worthington, the young girl, was born in 1906 and her mother Minnie, with the book, died in 1926. Minnie taught at the Upper Waitohi School.  It was a myth that people in isolated, rural communities wore fashions that were some years behind those in the cities.  People, especially women, would not be caught dead allowing themselves to be photographed wearing an out-of-date fashion. A visit to your photographer was an event for which you made an appointment and dressed in your best. By comparing your unknown pictures to those known, you can match up clothing and hair fashions, the poses adopted by the subjects, and the background settings in both pictures and estimate the date of your pictures. The date from an event e.g. wedding or the age of a young child, whose age could be estimated can help date a photo.  

One of the ways to pin down the date a photograph was is to find out when a photographer was operating in the district. Until the early decades of the twentieth century, casual photographs were not common. Many photos were taken in a studio and will have the photographers imprint in a corner. The location of the photographer is not to be taken too seriously because many photos were copied and reprinted by local photographers. Therefore a photo printed in Dunedin or Melbourne may have been originally taken in England. The reverse is not likely - photos printed in England were almost certainly taken in England. 

February 1940
Taken at Gordon's Valley at Diana Elworthy's wedding. 

The South Canterbury section of the Canterbury edition Cyclopedia of New Zealand, published 1903, is jam-packed photographs with the majority of the by: 
W. Ferrier aka Ferrier e.g. Stafford St.
Weeks Ltd aka W or H. H.J. Weeks, Limited, Printers and Publishers, Manchester Street, Christchurch. Weeks Printing a company which originally started in Christchurch founded by Horace John weeks. It was then taken over by Fred A Rosewarne and branched out to Auckland, Dunedin and Wanganui.

Then there are a few photographs by: 

The Allan Studio 	Timaru		1909
Ferrier & Rock	 	Oamaru	 	1880
Ferrier, William	Timaru		Ross's Royal Arcade 1881-1921 
Holwell  Wm & later BC	Temuka  	1906 -1949
Price, Thomas Edward	Timaru	 	1875-8 [b. in NSW and arriving in NZ in 1863]
Pringle & Hartman	Timaru
Standish & Preece	Christchurch	High St. 1885-1900
Burford, Arthur		Timaru		1900s	Princes St. 
Butterfield, Frederick	Temuka	 	1898
McCaskey, John J. 	Geraldine 	1898
Muir, Frederick		Timaru	 	1902
Wolloughby Bros
Havelock Williams 	Timaru		1921-1936

This list is incomplete but other early photographers in Timaru included:

Mountford	 1868
Price and Hartman 		Reference: Wise's Directory 1872-73
S.P. Syverson	 1875-80	Reference: John Lester's book on Ferrier
Rudolph Haigh	 1878-99	CDV - carte de visite	
Coxhead Bros.	 1876-79 	Great North Road, Timaru Reference: Wise's Directory 1878-79
H. Coxhead	 1877-78 	Frank Arnold Coxhead, a partner with Harry and William in Coxhead Brothers.
Coxhead & Sargeant 1878-80
H. Coxhead	 1880-82	F.A. Coxhead visited Timaru Sept.- Oct. 1891
P. Cuthbert	 1894-97
Adolf Fischer	 1887-99
Fischer & Hardy	 1887-99	In partnership with Adolf Fischer 1899-1900
Alfred Hardy	 1900-09
P. Cuthbert	 1894-97
Mahan & Co. 	 1902-03	(F.B. Muir) 
Mahan & Muir	 1903-1905
Mahan & Co.	 1905-07	(Robert H. Mahan)
Mahan & Halford  1905-07	(R.W. Halford) 
R.H. Mahan	 1911-1919
J.E. Pigott	 1909>1921	John Ernest Piggott, Fairlie 1894/95, Timaru 1909-1915 
J. Milne Allan 	 1909-18
William Havelock Arthur 1909-1936 276 Stafford St.(1884-1968) 

Early photographers in Waimate:
Arthur J. Cox s/o William Cox of Rakaia. Business in Waimate established in 1898, but had 20 years' previous experience.
Smith operating at Dunedin, Waimate & Oamaru around 1870 - 1878.
C. E. Clarke

T.E. Price, Photographer, Timaru

The Waimate Daily Advertiser 12 December 1899 carried the following advertisement:

The Best Christmas Card you could send your friends is your own
PHOTOGRAPH on one of Ferrier's Christmas Card mounts.
Price from 5s per doz. Mails closing October and November reach England in time for Christmas
Studio: 125 Stafford Street, Timaru

The Timaru Herald 17 May 1881 carried the following advertisement:

"First-Class Photography
 Fyfe's Building 
 W. Ferrier Portrait Rooms will be OPENED in a few days
  Only first-class Photographs will be produced 
South Road, Timaru, opposite the Theatre.
[The South Rd was later renamed Stafford St]

The Timaru Herald 2 July 1921
"On Friday 8th inst., Morton and Pearson submit to auction the old established photography business of Mr. W. Ferrier. The position is unequalled and the failing health of the Proprietor is the sole reason for selling. The business will be sold as a going concern, and full particulars can be obtained from the auctioneers."

Frank Arnold Coxhead b. 1851 and his stepbrother Harry, born in 1846 came to NZ with their parents in 1858. Harry was a photographer by 1868, and working in Timaru in 1872 where he had a branch studio. Frank was qualified by 1872. Coxhead Bros. had a branch at Invercargill in 1875. Harry died in Timaru c. 1885.  Frank continued with a studio in Dunedin until 1890. I really like his photo of Port Chalmers at Timeframes. Edward was at Te Ahuahu 1898-1899. Reference: Hardwicke Knights book.

The Timaru Herald May 21 1895
COXHEAD - On the 3rd May, at his residence, Bank street, Harry, second son of the late Frederick Coxhead, of Dunedin, aged 38 years.


Salvation Army ladies. Photo by Cox, Waimate.
Arthur J. Cox, business in Waimate established in 1898 Waimate. Studio 1898-1903, 1911/12, 1915, 1925, 1932.

Peter William Hutton,
Peter was born Edinburgh January 1833 and died in Timaru 15 July 1914 age 81 years. He was listed as a Bookseller and Stationer in Timaru. His headstone at the Timaru Cemetery reads Margaret Grey, beloved wife of P.W. Hutton, died Nov. 1887, aged 55 years.

Otago Daily Times 14 September 1914, Page 3
HUTTON. At his residence, Raroa, Nelson terrace, Timaru, on July 15, Peter William Hutton; in his eighty-second year. [Raroa means old age.]

Ashburton Guardian, 15 July 1914, Page 4
A Timaru Press Association telegram states that Mr P. W. Hutton, a very old resident, and principal of the oldest book-selling firm, died to-day. He landed in Dunedin from Scotland, in 1861, and came to Timaru in 1865: He has been in frail health for two years.

Ashburton Guardian, 29 July 1914, Page 4
The late Mr P. W. Hutton, Timaru, who always manifested such great generosity to the various schemes in connection with Trinity Presbyterian Church, has bequeathed �300 to the congregation, and also his theological library. The condition attaching, to the first bequest is that a like sum be raised by the congregation for debt extinction during the next 12 months.

War Memorial, Timaru  1929 postcard. Hutton Series 5.

John Ernest Piggot (1862 -1832) had a photographic studio Timaru in the early 1900s, and a studio in Fairlie. He also worked as a farm hand on stations in the Fairlie area e.g. Clayton Station.


Judgments made on the process alone can be misleading. Watch out for second generation prints, i.e. photos of photos.

Daguerreotype, used from 1839 to about 1860, was produced on a metal support of thin copper, with a highly polished mirror-like coating of silver. They are sealed in glass to protect the plate from atmospheric and physical damage. example

Ambrotypes (1854 until the mid-1860s)  Produced from an underexposed glass negative which was then covered with a backing of black velvet or shellac.  A positive effect was then created. Known in Britain as collodion positives. Pictures are normally clear and sharp and when moved under light they can be seen to revert to their negative effect. These photos are often framed or cased.

Tintypes (1856 to about 1900). Where cheap, popular, produced on a very thin sheet of iron and the images are reversed and are often of poorer quality and frequently small. Often taken by the  travelling photographer.

Modern techniques involving negatives including glass plate negatives. 

Timaru Herald, 10 October 1919, Page 8 Bowling, Timaru Club.
During the interval Mr. H. Williams took a group photo of players and visitors, with his new Cirkuit Film camera, the first photo of its kind taken in Timaru.


Dating old postcards (onsite)
Date an old UK Photograph
About Photos

Boys clothes wayback

Dating old photographs


Imprints Christchurch
Auckland Images
  Soldiers badges can be helpful identifying the unit.
Timeframes South Canterbury


Who is in the photograph? Who took it? 
What was happening? Is there more to the story than is shown in the photo? 
Where was the photo taken? Was it in a special or unusual place? 
When was the photo taken? Year, day, season, occasion? 
Why was this moment special?

If you are going to throw something out - historic records, photos, anything, please throw it to the museum or to a historical society member first and let them decide its fate. Recently some photo album pages containing shots of early Timaru were handed in to the South Canterbury museum, but the rest of the album which contained photos the owner couldn't identify were thrown out.

Colour Photos
Colour photos are not as stable as b/w  while because the metallic silver used for black and whites is much more chemically stable than the synthetic dyes in colour shots. Take greater care with colour prints and negatives. Keep them cool, dry, and  most important in a constant climate both in terms of temperature and relative humidity. Fluctuations in temperature mean photos either dry out or become moister and contaminates are taken up by the photos, generating chemical change and affecting the dyes. Need to be physically protected � fingerprint free and flat. An old chocolate box is better than one an album with sticky pages overlaid with cling plastic because the latex adhesive on the backing page stains black and white photos and fades colour dyes. Get an album with acid free pages. If plastic, make sure it�s polypropylene, polyethylene or polyester. Ask the retailer if unsure (there is an International Standards test for photo albums). 
    Visit for more advice on the effective domestic storage of photos, books, paintings and sound recordings. National Preservation Office email

Scan old photos to CDs and make one each for your children. Kept track of the arrangement in the original albums - its quite often a very important clue as to who the persons in the photo's as they are likely to be grouped together because they were taken same, place and time - or perhaps grouped by family. In old family photo albums by reading the photographers details and location from the back of them and taking note which ones are grouped together on a page can enabled you to identify family members or at least eliminate them down to a couple of likely names. Consider scrap booking on acid free and also lignin free to prevent yellowing and fading as many papers do. 

Mackenzie Collie Dog Club - Burkes Pass.

Sheep Dog Trials is a sport in which age was not a barrier, septuagenarians and octogenarians  compete with younger competitors in the 18- to 25-year age group.
 The original use to hang in the Burkes Pass Hotel. 1940.

William FERRIER  - (1855-1922) photos past exhibition postcards

William, 20 August 1855, a native of Edinburgh, arrived at Port Chalmers 9 September 1869 on the William Davie, from Glasgow, aged 14 years, with his widowed father, David Ferrier, and sister Jessie Lowe Ferrier.  Rev. William Lowe's daughter Jessie Lowe was married to David Ferrier in Forfar, Scotland  in 1852 by Rev. Lowe, her father. Jessie died in 1866 at 39 yrs.  David Ferrier first worked in Dunedin then Christchurch. William Ferrier, photographer and landscape watercolourist was a cousin of the singer Kathleen Ferrier and Colin McCahon's maternal grandfather. 1903. William married Eva Beatrice Cunningham of Oamaru in 1886. William died 16 October 1922, Timaru aged 67 years buried Timaru Cemetery 18 October 1922, row 34 plot 418. Biography - William Ferrier 1855-1922 by John Lester, Aigantighe Art Gallery. Past exhibit. He took many photos of the bay, storms, and and the Mt. Cook area. He suffered a stroke but taught himself to pain left handed.

William Ferrier worked under John Gaul of Christchurch. He established his business in Fife's Buildings, Timaru in May 1881, but later moved to larger premises in the Ross' Royal Arcade at the Stafford St. end, and again to Stafford Street by 1903.  William and Eva Beatrice, had eight children. Ethel Beatrice, Colin, Hedley, John L., Eileen Low 'Pearl', Jack, Ed, Catherine 'Kitty'.  Colin Ferrier was killed in Ypres 11 Nov. 1914. He was a photographer and water colourists. Possible work. Mt. Cook.

Children of Eva Beatrice nee Cunninghame and William Ferrier, married in 1886
1888 Ferrier Ethel Beatrice
1890 Ferrier Gilbert Colin Cunninghame
1887 Ferrier Ileen Mason Lowe
1892 Ferrier William Hedley
1895 Ferrier John Lowe
1898 Ferrier Herbert Gordon
1901 Ferrier Sarah Catherine
1903 Ferrier Eva Clara

Ferrier, Gilbert Colin Cunninghame
Second Lieutenant, Royal Fusiliers, 7th Bn. attd. 4th Bn.
Age: 24 Date of Death: 11/11/1914
S/o William and Eva Beatrice Ferrier, of 71 Grey Rd., Timaru.

Evening Post, 10 April 1915, Page 6
Lieutenant Colin Ferrier, eldest son of Mr. William Ferrier, Timaru, whose death on the field of battle was reported last week, was a particularly bright and promising young man (says the Timaru Herald). The deceased was born on 26th April, 1889. He was educated at the Waimataitai School, and later at the Timaru High School. On leaving the High School he was apprenticed to the building trade, at which he served five years. In 1913-14 he went with Captain Head on exploration work in the Mount Cook district and the Dart Valley  - a class of work of which he was very fond. A keen volunteer, he rose to the rank of lieutenant in the local Territorials and was always a popular officer. Deciding to take up architecture as a profession, he left Timaru in April last for London, to study there. But immediately the war broke out he enlisted with 'the Sixth Fusiliers, and after spending a few weeks in the Falmouth camp, was drafted to the front.

The Press 14 January 1944Timaru Herald
FERRIER - CUNNINGHAM. On the 17th inst., at Wesley Church, Oamaru, by the Rev. J.S. Rishworth, William Ferrier, of Timaru, to Eva Beatrice, third daughter of Mr T.M. Cunningham, of Oamaru.

Timaru Herald Monday 17 May 1887 Birth
FERRIER - At Sarah Street, Timaru, on the 15th inst., the wife of W. Ferrier of a daughter.

Timaru Herald
Tuesday 22 December 1891 Birth
FERRIER - On the 20th Dec., at North Street, the wife of W. Ferrier, of a son.

Timaru Cemetery -headstone
Age at Death 80
Born at Edinburgh 26 July 1821
Died 23rd June 1902.

FERRIER, William   headstone gone
Age at Death 68 Years
Date of Interment 18/10/1922

Ferrier, captured images of life in town from the late 19th Century up to the 1920s.

13 June 1997 Timaru Herald
A unique piece of Timaru history has been discovered. Former Historic Places Trust regional officer Lois Galer, of Ophir, was sorting through family records recently when she found an album of William Ferrier postcards, which she has since donated to the South Canterbury Museum. Ferrier was a photographer in Timaru in the early 1900s who took a large number of photographs of the city and the surrounding areas. Mrs Galer said she was "very pleased to be able to pass on such a valuable piece of history to the city of Timaru". "There are not many photographers that are of Ferrier's calibre and these postcards are certainly a unique record of our city's history." South Canterbury museum director Philip Howe said the album was a wonderful resource to help capture the history of Timaru. "Some of the images in the album we already have, but a lot are new to us too. They're really an artefact in their own right." The images would undergo a protection and preservation process to ensure they remained in the extremely good condition they were in now, he said.

Mahan, Oamaru - Robert Mahan, proprietor

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Otago & Southland Provincial Districts] 1905
Councillor Robert Mahan, of the Oamaru Borough Council, a photographer, and is senior partner of the firm of Mahan and Muir.
Major Robert Mahan, who is on the staff of No. 3 Battalion, Otago Rifles, has had a long experience as a volunteer. He served five years in the Timaru Artillery Cadets, and joined the Oamaru Rifles as a private in 1882, on his arrival in the district. Shortly afterwards he gained the rank of sergeant. At the time of the Russian scare Mr. Mahan transferred to the Naval Artillery, and was soon afterwards elected sublieutenant. Two years later he became lieutenant-commanding, and afterwards had charge of the corps. He is a son of Mr. A. Mahan, schoolmaster, Geraldine, and was born in 1862, in County Longford, Ireland. After completing his elementary education he learned the business of a photographer, and has been well-known in Oamaru since 1886.

Mahan and Muir (Robert Mahan and Frederick Bailey Muir), Photographers, Thames Street, Oamaru. There is a branch at Timaru, where Mr. Muir, who joined the firm in 1903, is in charge, Mr. Mahan, who founded the business, still has the active management in Oamaru, where he established himself a good many years ago.

Archibald Mahan, aged 38, born in 1834 at Carrigallen, County Leitrim, a schoolmaster, arrived 1 Nov. 1874 on the Duke of Edinburgh. The family was Colonial nominated for Timaru. They ended up having fourteen children, eight sons and six daughters. Mr. Mahan retired from the teaching profession in 1899 and started farming on the Rangitata, where he remained until his death in April, 1901. One branch of the family but changed the spelling to Mahon. His father was Arthur Mahan. Arthur's son and daughter Archibald and Isobella also emigrated to New Zealand.

Mary Jane 	34 married in County Longford 
Robert 		13 he was transferred to single mens accommodation
Margaret A. 	12 Trans. to s/w
Jane 		10 married Alexander McClelland in Dec. 1890
Arthur 		 9 
William Ludlow 	 7 drowned Saltwater Creek in Feb. 1883
Sarah J. 	 6 
Ellen A 	 5
John T. 	 3 
Charles J.   	 1 

Five more children were born in New Zealand - Ann Maria, Theresa, Archibald Benjamin, Adam George and Richard.
Annie youngest daughter of Mr. Archibald Mahan, schoolmaster, of Geraldine Flat, married Alexander Shaw in Sept. 1896.

In business in Timaru

Mahan & Co. 	   1902-03	(F.B. Muir) 
Mahan & Muir	   1903-1905
Mahan & Co.	   1905-07	(Robert H. Mahan)
Mahan & Halford    1905-07	(R.W. Halford) 
R.H. Mahan	   1911-1919

Another Mahan photo 

Edward Percy Sealy

Poverty Bay Herald, 31 October 1903, Page 1
Timaru, last night. E. P. Sealey, a Canterbury pioneer, died this evening, aged 64. He was a surveyor under the Provincial Government in the early days, and had a penchant for natural history and alpine exploration. He was the first man to visit Mount Cook, and ascended Hochstetter Dome and Hooker Glacier with a 60 1b camera, etc., and obtained the first photographs of that region. He was one of the founders and continuous directors of the Farmers' Cooperative Association till a few months ago.

Otago Witness 21 January 1903, Page 54
Some Canterbury Rivers. Fishing in the Opihi. Mr E. P. Sealey had the pleasure of landing a 101b fish.


New Zealand Photographers : a selection / Hardwicke Knight, Dunedin, NZ : Allied Press, 1981.

Photography in New Zealand: A Social & Technical History Hardwicke Knight. Dunedin: John McIndoe, 1971

Auckland Through A Victorian Lens.  William Main. Published in Wellington by Millwood Press. 1977 1st Edition. Lists photographers who operated in Auckland. A nostalgic record of the humble beginnings and development of Auckland from 1850 to 1914. Contains a wealth of wonderful archival images. Hb with dj. 22 x 28.5 cm. 177 pages. Illustrated in black & white and some colour.

Wellington Through A Victorian Lens.  William Main. Millwood Press, Wellington, 1972 (Reprinted 1980) 108pp (258 x 208 mm) Profusely illustrated from old photographs. Index.

New Zealand Photography from the 1840s to the Present. William Main & John B. Turner. PhotoForum, Auckland, 1993

Wellington Album,  William Main' August 1998. It highlights the activities of 50 photographers who captured the changing face of Wellington over the last 140 years. Wellington Album, Grantham House

William Ferrier Photographer / John Lester. Publisher : Aigantighe Art Gallery with assistance from Timaru Harbour Board; Bank of New Zealand, Timaru, NZ 1986 60 p. : ill., Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Aigantighe Art Gallery, Timaru, NZ. Includes index. Bibliography: p. 59. The book is very detail about his life. Born 20 Aug 1855 Forfar Scotland. Died 16 Oct 1922 76 Grey Road Timaru. Including living in Oamaru before moving to Timaru and was partner with J.W. Rock. There is an appendix which lists Timaru photographers 1868-1921

H. L. Betts Gold Medal Series. Photos By W. Ferrier, Timaru  Picturesque Timaru Illustrated: 53 Views and Panorama 20 pages

Dating Old Photographs. Robert Pols (2nd ed)


South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project 

Face Cards. Photographic portraits.
Photographers are comical fellows, making faces for a living.

Label your old school photos today!

Otago Witness, 11 January 1873, Page 20
A Sentimental Young Lady on Bonnets.
Oh the bonnets of my girlhood
the kind I wore at school !
I really thought them pretty
I must have been a fool.
And yet I used to think myself on hats a jaunty miss ;
perhaps I was as fashion went
but what was that to this ?

Oh the lovely little pancake
the charming little mat !
it makes my head so level,
and so very, very flat.