Man with a compass

By: usermattw

Jul 26 2012

Tags: ,

Category: Men


Click here to view it larger.

What it is:

Photo (6 x 8 inches) mounted on a cardboard matte (10 x 12 inches).  The matte is badly chipped and stained, and has no information, so I have cropped it from the scan.

What I know about it:

Nothing!  Undated and unidentified.


Part of what I love about this photo is its size.  There are some pretty large photos in my collection, but few that are as old as this one seems to be.  It’s mounted on some thin, brittle cardboard that itself seems to have been framed.  Our gentleman here is holding some sort of compass, possibly the kind used in drafting, implying that he may be an architect or engineer, but more likely the caliper sort used in plotting distances on maps.  It would help if the paper on the table were easier to see.  If we are to believe that he is charting a course with a map, then what do we make of this?  Is he an adventurous traveler?  A sea captain or navigator?  It’s hard to say since, to my eyes, he is wearing civilian clothes.  Before we leave him, pause for a moment and behold that face.  It’s a face with character.  There’s something odd about his eyes, an unevenness that could mean several things.  But it’s the face of a man who has seen much.

6 comments on “Man with a compass”

  1. Agreed. He has a most interesting face and appears melancholy and pensive.

  2. I’ve always wanted a beard that big 🙂

  3. he has that look it feels to me classic of old photos that says, “is this how you asked me to pose? Am i doing it right? This is very uncomfortable.”

    • Yes, he does. I think that we today are so used to having our pictures taken that we more or less know what we’re going to look like, and can often see the results immediately. Back then, when getting your picture taken was rare at best, such a familiarity with the process would have been less common.

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