The Search for a Family Resemblance

By Maureen A. Taylor

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There are two other images in Susan Ellerbee’s collection. Both men. Both were taken in the 1880s.

family resemblance

The young man is William F. Tucker.

family resemblance

She’s hoping that a family resemblance will help her decided which side of the family the man in the tintype hails.

Before we get to that. Let’s take a look at their clothing and other photo evidence.

Both are on chocolate colored card stock. This color was common in the 1880s. Maroon and dark green were also popular card stock colors in that decade. Gold-bordered cards of these colors generally date from early in the decade while those with scalloped edges are after mid-decade.

All three men in these images (including the tintype) wear long frock coats. This is very formal dress. In the 1880s, the average man could wear a shorter fitted coat. These fellows dress like men of means.

The Tucker’s lived in Greene County, New York. The census enumerates real and personal estate. This could be a clue. Not all the photo evidence is in the image, many identification details appear outside the image.

I don’t see any resemblance between Hermann Maurer and the man in the tintype. They have different faces.

That’s not the case with the young Tucker.

family resemblance

Some people have a way of posing for images that carries throughout their lifetime. I’m wondering if these pictures are of the same man. They tilt their head in the same way. They share a similar pattern of mustache growth too.

The man in the tintype is a little bit older, more mature, with a little added weight. One image could date from the beginning of the 1880s and the other from the late 1880s . Ten years can make a big difference in person’s appearance.

identifying photographs

Want to become a photo detective like Maureen? Our Family Photo Detective book will teach readers how to identify and verify people in family photographs by comparing facial features in a collection of photos.