By: usermattw

Jul 22 2015

Tags: , , ,

Category: Men


Click here to view it larger.


What it is:

Real photo post card measuring 3.5 x 5.5 inches.


What I know about it:

Different online sources disagree slightly about the dates indicated by the paper manufacturer’s markings (Aristo, with a bird logo).  Most say 1905 to around 1907, but at least one extended the range to 1913.



I’d welcome any thoughts on this uniform, but I’m assuming our guy here is a conductor on a city railway or trolley line.  Unfortunately, all I can see is the driver’s number, so I can’t determine what city it might be.  In any case, it seems he takes enough pride in his work to commemorate the job with a portrait.  It’s an interesting composition, with the uniform that is at once dapper and proletarian, the rustic tablecloth, the almost haphazard pile of pretty flowers (or is it a bouquet?), all posed in a simple, direct way in front of a luxe scene on a painted backdrop.  It’s an odd mixture of elements that somehow works very well for me.  I wonder if it would work as well in color.  Incidentally, note also what appears to be a posing stand in use behind him.

8 comments on “Conductor”

  1. Love it, and your description! I don’t *think* that big trouser cuffs were a fashion thing then; my impression is that his pants are hand-me-downs.

    • Thanks! Yes, I noticed the cuffs, too. I thought perhaps they were just poorly altered. Now that I think about it, I wonder what would have constituted the uniform, meaning, I wonder what the employer would have provided, besides the hat and jacket. Would the pants have been his own? I suppose that’s likely.

  2. Or they could have been handed down from a previous conductor. I do remember an F. Scott Fitzgerald story about working in the railroad yard in the 1910s, in which the protagonist was required to buy his own overalls, but I don’t know if that would apply here.

  3. Hey, look–I was waiting for something to process, so I idly searched “trolley conductor uniform 1905,” and got this (from 1898, though)–doesn’t it look so similar? From Maryland:

  4. This might be relevant–another pic of the same guy, on the job!

  5. Or maybe not the same guy–I’m not sure the ears quite match.

    • Either way, thanks for the fun pictures. I googled a bit before posting, too, to make sure I was correct in thinking it was a trolley conductor’s uniform, but I didn’t see these images.

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