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A new photograph of Queen Victoria's visit to Sheffield in 1897


Alastair
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I discovered this photograph online in the collection of the Swedish Museum of Technology titled "Her Majesty Queen Victoria visiting Messrs Cammell's works in Sheffield, May 21st 1897"

She's sat in the back of her horse carriage which has been ridden into the Cyclops works on Carlisle Street to see steel being rolled. She didn't get out of her carriage at the opening of the Town Hall the same day, probably due to her age.

There's still a plaque on the wall to mark the occasion, the steel mill now being run by ATI

032wZW36oTVw.jpg

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She didn’t get out of her carriage because of her weight, earlier when she opened the Town Hall she again sat in her carriage and just pressed a button of some kind instead of leaving the carriage and physically cutting a ribbon.

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That's what I was thinking too. Apparently during the last few years of her life her girth of 62" exceeded her height of 59", though I'm not sure who measured her. It must have been all those Victoria sponge cakes.

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I think a Shetland pony ran round her with a measuring tape in its mouth, I did read it took 40 minutes to complete the trot round her.

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Interestingly, using a strong zoom on the original picture, a person has been edited out of the photo, just behind and between the workers with the levers (looks like the editing was done with a pencil). Also there is more editing to the left of this area. Was this done to the original picture just for the sake of it's composition?

Regards

Leipzig

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43 minutes ago, Leipzig said:

Interestingly, using a strong zoom on the original picture, a person has been edited out of the photo, just behind and between the workers with the levers (looks like the editing was done with a pencil). Also there is more editing to the left of this area. Was this done to the original picture just for the sake of it's composition?

Regards

Leipzig

The photo looks to be a wet plate collodion photograph because of the ragged edges and the photographers name made in the collodion bottom left with a sharp stylus. I doubt it was edited, but due to long exposure times anyone moving would be blurred out.

The photographer is Yates - must be G V Yates who had his premises in the Davy building on Fargate, now W H Smith.

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12 hours ago, Alastair said:

The photo looks to be a wet plate collodion photograph because of the ragged edges and the photographers name made in the collodion bottom left with a sharp stylus. I doubt it was edited, but due to long exposure times anyone moving would be blurred out.

 

That would be right as the picture is dark, being inside a dark shed, so would need a longer exposure, plus complicated by the hot piece of metal, which is so white that it was overexposed in that area.

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On 05/09/2021 at 11:02, Alastair said:

The photo looks to be a wet plate collodion photograph because of the ragged edges and the photographers name made in the collodion bottom left with a sharp stylus. I doubt it was edited, but due to long exposure times anyone moving would be blurred out.

The photographer is Yates - must be G V Yates who had his premises in the Davy building on Fargate, now W H Smith.

Naah, I don't buy it. Not sure of the process but I think it's a composite. The missing chap appears to have left his boots. Perhaps he was moved because he had his hands in his pockets (too disrespectful in the imagined presence of her majesty?) or maybe it was just too awkward (or rediculous looking?) to stick his bouffant over the steps of the dais. Even considering the likely small stature of the workers of that period the disparity in size of the supposedly adjacent groups at front left is nearing Wonkarian proportions. The lighting differences in this area are stark also, and do not appear to have common origin. I'm not sure that the "floor texture" between fore and aft is authentic to either part, whilst it appears that they've laid turf in the background! In keeping with the small arboretum they seem to have set up for the occasion at least. Very suspicious.

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(added later)

Another spot - the arms of the ledge mounted chap front right and the screw he is attending are transparent! And yet the post that can be seen through his arms is not evident in the gap between his legs. The windows of the building that completes the background (upper mid-left) are huge - completely out of scale. Aside from questions regarding how they'd have found the idle space in that kind of environment, the dress of the idlers is completely inappropriate for occasion.

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Last one. The tourist standing "au patinage", beside our disappeared friend, seemingly lost amongst the workers. What does he think he's doing down there? But look carefully - the rod being grasped by the attentive youngster next door is passing through his right leg. Not a flicker on his face - what an example. Can you imagine if the same happened to any of today's pomaded emulants? They'd be wailing like banshees. On which, I wonder if Yates dealt with that sort of subject matter more commonly.

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There is another version of this photo on Picture Sheffield which is a little clearer, without the signature or ragged edges. (Ref No y10709)

The perspective looks quite reasonable and it is clear that everyone is holding their pose for the photographer.  I would guess the missing man probably moved during the exposure.

My recollections of photography include the technique of 'dodging' to adjust localised contrast or to remove unwanted detail.

Edit: link added (SteveHB)

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7 hours ago, rover1949 said:

There is another version of this photo on Picture Sheffield which is a little clearer, without the signature or ragged edges. (Ref No y10709)

The perspective looks quite reasonable and it is clear that everyone is holding their pose for the photographer.  I would guess the missing man probably moved during the exposure.

My recollections of photography include the technique of 'dodging' to adjust localised contrast or to remove unwanted detail.

Edit: link added (SteveHB)

But the artefact that you would expect from such movement (ghosting / ghost trails) is not observed in the picture presented (which gives clear indication of defacing, or otherwise, an extraordinary, traumatic amputation of the feet).

The picture is, pretty clearly, a coarse, defaced amalgamation of images and a quite deliberate fake.

Image8.jpg.3286b7fdb33509df9b86ca80906289be.jpg

Image10.jpg.7178bb5ef5f06987f523ede13931d951.jpg

Image3.jpg.8df92a007d504bbf06c2d603a84f5020.jpg

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This was taken 50 years prior to my birth, when we had already fought and won two World Wars, seen flight travel advance to break the barrier and the Ferrari 125 S make it’s debut.

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On 08/09/2021 at 14:13, DaveJC said:

This was taken 50 years prior to my birth, when we had already fought and won two World Wars, seen flight travel advance to break the barrier and the Ferrari 125 S make it’s debut.

Are you going to let us in on the secret then? Which bit?

At the moment, unless this was the unveiling of Messrs Cammell & Co's patent teleportation device, I don't think we have any compelling evidence to suggest when or where any part of the picture was taken. I imagine that the event the central section is taken from could be identified but the apparent lack any interest in inquiry is a little dismaying.

Do we even know that the composer claimed it to be the event suggested or has that just been assumed because of the label? Is it not possible he saw the opportunity, or was commisioned, to complete it prior to the event?

Joking aside, I'd be very interested to know if anybody genuinely thinks the picture has any integrity, or even if you are doubtful, what leads you to want to find validity in it. My instinctive reaction when first seeing the picture was that it was farcical and further scrutiny has only embedded that opinion. I appreciate that there may be historical interest in the methodology of construction, or in identification of components, but the apparent acceptance and promotion of it as documentation of an event is, to say the least, alarming.

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There are several accounts of the royal visit, including an article by The Times.  HM was only in Sheffield for two hours in total, including the Town Hall, Norfolk Park and Cyclops works, so it must have been a very brief drive-through.  This would have been a challenge for a modern day photographer, borderline impossible for a Victorian one.

Two points in favour of the prosecution, (quoting The Times);

  1. The workers greeting HM were kitted out in some kind of uniform, including white coats.  In the photograph they are all wearing typical steelworks garb of flat caps, sweat rags and waistcoats.
  2. The ingot was quoted as 56T in weight and 42 inches thick at the start of the process, that mill stand doesn't look big enough for the job.  I was lucky enough to see the River Don plate mill in action, that was 48" capacity and a much bigger operation all together.  Could they catch a 56T slab on that little trolley?

It does look like some sort of composite image IMHO.

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On 10/09/2021 at 20:45, leksand said:

Are you going to let us in on the secret then? Which bit?

At the moment, unless this was the unveiling of Messrs Cammell & Co's patent teleportation device, I don't think we have any compelling evidence to suggest when or where any part of the picture was taken. I imagine that the event the central section is taken from could be identified but the apparent lack any interest in inquiry is a little dismaying.

Do we even know that the composer claimed it to be the event suggested or has that just been assumed because of the label? Is it not possible he saw the opportunity, or was commisioned, to complete it prior to the event?

Joking aside, I'd be very interested to know if anybody genuinely thinks the picture has any integrity, or even if you are doubtful, what leads you to want to find validity in it. My instinctive reaction when first seeing the picture was that it was farcical and further scrutiny has only embedded that opinion. I appreciate that there may be historical interest in the methodology of construction, or in identification of components, but the apparent acceptance and promotion of it as documentation of an event is, to say the least, alarming.

I don't see why you're so upset by the photo being a composite. It's definitely an original done at the time to celebrate the event so the question must be why did they need to produce this image? I can think of a variety of reasons, probably contemporary accounts would be the best source in interpreting why.

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5 hours ago, Alastair said:

I don't see why you're so upset by the photo being a composite. It's definitely an original done at the time to celebrate the event so the question must be why did they need to produce this image? I can think of a variety of reasons, probably contemporary accounts would be the best source in interpreting why.

I'm not upset by the image at all! It's a great item, but it is clearly not what it is presented to be.
When an irregularity was pointed out it was dismissed, perhaps without the fullest of scrutiny, but with a plausible explanation and the credibilty of that statement was then independently verified, but without reference to validity of complaint. After I'd listed all of my concerns (since edited a little to remove rather cryptic reference to some of the more rediculous themes), rover1949 commented, introducing further evidence to the discusion, but again probably without full consideration of the complaints placed at that point. After that I though I should probably make readily apparent what some of the problems were to remove any ambiguity. Next there is another comment, essentially off topic but with a tacit suggestion of legitimacy and what would appear to be an attempt to use the clapometer to influence the argument against the latter evidence.

So at that point the thread has presented an item incorrectly, I assume quite innocently, and has several contributors (including the original poster and one of the site's big hitters) offering what may be read, and seemingly was being read, as support for the concept of factual representation even though that may not have been the intention of those posts (and even though their opinions might reasonably have been revised subsequently). Moreover, explicit evidence that the photo was fake did not apear to be having any influence and to all appearances the discussion is entering the farce of the object presented! Taking Laing's advice; "do not adjust your mind, there is a fault in reality", I sought a means to try and bring a greater level of coherence to the discussion (including editing out my more whimsical contributions). I don't think that was unreasonable.

I mean, there's certainly plenty to discuss. rover1949's investigation is very interesting because it looks as though there may have been subsequent enhancement of the image and offers an absolute upper bound on the date of production which is much later than the event itself (I am unaware if Yates's longevity may bring that down). The contemporary report gives evidence that the picture is not an accurate representation of events so would it have had (would it need?) any credibility in picture posts of the time? Also I'd imagine that both the accesibility of process of production and the availability of images to introduce would increase the later the date, though I have no idea if obsolesence of procedure may impact. I'd be interested to read the thoughts of those who do know on that and other issues raised. I'd like to learn something and I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

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On 11/09/2021 at 18:15, rover1949 said:

There are several accounts of the royal visit, including an article by The Times.  HM was only in Sheffield for two hours in total, including the Town Hall, Norfolk Park and Cyclops works, so it must have been a very brief drive-through.  This would have been a challenge for a modern day photographer, borderline impossible for a Victorian one.

Two points in favour of the prosecution, (quoting The Times);

  1. The workers greeting HM were kitted out in some kind of uniform, including white coats.  In the photograph they are all wearing typical steelworks garb of flat caps, sweat rags and waistcoats.
  2. The ingot was quoted as 56T in weight and 42 inches thick at the start of the process, that mill stand doesn't look big enough for the job.  I was lucky enough to see the River Don plate mill in action, that was 48" capacity and a much bigger operation all together.  Could they catch a 56T slab on that little trolley?

It does look like some sort of composite image IMHO.

The Illustrated London News produced a special supplement on QV’s Sheffield visit and the scene at Cyclops Works was captured by one of their artists. Essentially a similar scene with the carriage behind the dias, the canopy over (just visible top), the people in and around the Queen’s carriage. Interesting the workers all seem to be wearing the light jackets, dark trousers, peaked caps, as The Times description. Also interesting to see QV and her lady in waiting peering through the welders glass screens, shown in the sketch.

https://www.iln.org.uk/iln_years/year/1897.htm

https://www.meisterdrucke.uk/fine-art-prints/Henry-Charles-Seppings-Wright/188230/The-Queen-at-Sheffield,-Her-Majesty-witnessing-the-Rolling-of-an-Armour-Plate-.html

I’m not suggesting this sketch is a true depiction of the scene and the photo is a montage, but in the early days of photography, when the Victorians were producing photographs of fairies, ghostly spirits and the like, I wouldn’t consider it unreasonable that they would have stitched together several images to recreate the scene.

Considering the results would not have been instant at the time, not like checking the image in the LED screen and taking one or more others if the exposure needed adjusting (or something of that sort). Maybe Yates took a few shots, plates, whatever the technology at the time, got them back to the studio, developed them and they were all awful?! Perhaps he salvaged what he could from the images he got and then supplemented the finished product with another shot of the steelworkers, taken at another time, pasting it into the foreground? There certainly seems to be some ‘filling in’ in the mid-section of the image, between the workers and the dias, especially on the right where the horses rear legs have been covered over completely...

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2CBB3CBA-D685-4A58-BF85-DC36A1CD0B49.jpeg

1EB5F5C8-D7CB-49AE-8D78-06FF542F6F74.jpeg

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Oscar Reijlander pioneered photomontage in the 1850s, so it's entirely plausible this image was produced straight after the visit when it would have still been newsworthy and in demand.

 

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