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John Moffat

Questions about Photographs



1. and 2.

Mary Mattila, Saskatchewan Canada, has asked me questions about 2 of her photos by John Moffat.  If you have any comments in response to these questions, please e-mail me and I will pass on your comment.

Mary wrote:

Question 1


I have some old family photos that are printed on cards with J Moffat, 103 Princes Street Edinburgh on the front of the card. 

 On the back a label has been stuck on which says:

London & Counties Musical & Art Supply Co.

No 298 Branch Dumfries

Remarks:  Lady Full

Would the photographer have set up in Dumfries for the local trade?

Mary Mattila, Saskatchewan Canada,  23 July 2005


My initial reaction is that the label may have been attached by a company selling John Moffat's photos. 

I have seen labels attached to John Moffat's photos by Edinburgh bookshops and other outlets, particularly to photographs of University Professors, Ministers of the Church and other prominent personalities.

I am not aware of John Moffat having any studios in Scotland outside Edinburgh.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh,  24 July 2005


Question 2


Photograph by John Moffat  -  in a brooch

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Mary Mattila, Saskatchewan Canada,

I have a brooch that has been passed down to me from my father's family.  I think the person in the photo is my great grandfather James Richardson of Torthorwald.

A similar likeness is found in another photo which we have which is printed on J Moffat, 125 Princes Street Edinburgh, which I am dating at 1880 - 82. 

Was this a usual practice to sell the photos in a brooch, or did my family purchase the brooch and insert the photo?

Mary Mattila, Saskatchewan Canada,  23 July 2005


My initial reaction is that the brooch was probably purchased separately and the photo inserted by the family. However, if any more similar brooches with Moffat photos turn up, I might revise my opinion.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh,  24 July 2005




3. and 4.

Sheena Ireland also asked two questions

Sheena wrote:

Question 3

Dating a Photo

Thank you to Sheena Ireland of Hove, Sussex, England for providing the following question.  Sheena writes:

"I have discovered a family photograph by Moffat, 5½” x 3¾”, mounted on a plain dull brown card, which says:

Moffat, 125 Princes Street, Edinburgh

Electric & Daylight Studios

 Having looked at the EdinPhoto information, can I date this to 1895 onwards?  i.e. I am assuming that before that date, when FPM improved his late father’s studio, there was no electric light."

Sheena Ireland of Hove, Sussex, England.  August 2005


Question 4

Hand Colouring

"Did Moffat colour photographs when others did not?

There is a small photo of my great-grandmother (d. 1897), which my sister has in a frame.  It is coloured & apparently signed J.Moffat but I have noticed that it is identical to her in a family group portrait by Pettigrew.  I would have thought the family would have had it made before Pettigrew ceased trading?

The photograph of my great-grandmother is one of a pair in a case that my sister has; I cannot see if the other photo in that case (my great-grandfather) is also by Moffat, though it is similarly coloured.  I have a similar case with photos of two of their sons, one of whom is my grandfather; these are by Moffat and coloured too.

None of these is the same as in the photo by Pettigrew; it may be that the Pettigrew one was the only photo of her they had."

Sheena Ireland of Hove, Sussex, England.  August 2005