HMS Adventure Rating Studio Portrait

This week we have a cabinet card depicting a sailor and a young lady dating from the Edwardian era:SKM_C284e18041711450 - Copy (3)The sailor is wearing traditional rating’s uniform:SKM_C284e18041711450 - Copy (3) - CopyHowever of most interest to us is his cap tally which reads ‘HMS Adventure’:SKM_C284e18041711450 - Copy (4) - CopyHMS Adventure was the lead ship of the Adventure class of two scout cruisers. She displaced 2,670 tons and was armed with ten quick firing 12 pounder guns:HMS_Adventure_(1904)The ship was launched in 1905 meaning the photograph can be no earlier than this. The lady’s fashion however was popular in the first half of King Edward’s reign:SKM_C284e18041711450 - Copy (5) - CopyThis suggests the photograph was taken in 1905 or 1906, right at the start of the ship’s service. Note also the dog by the sitters’ feet.

The photograph is what is known as a ‘cabinet card’ these replaced the earlier ‘carte de visite’ and consisted of a thin photograph mounted on a piece of heavy cardstock, usually measuring 4 ¼” x 6 ½”. This style of photograph was introduced in the 1860s but really became popular from the 1870s onwards as people appreciated the larger size of the image. Early images were in sepia, but by the time our photograph was taken black and white was more common. By the start of the twentieth century the format was declining in popularity as people favoured either larger images they could have framed for their walls, or smaller un-mounted photographs they could paste into an album. The style did not lend itself to work outside of a photographer’s studio and the growing desire for outdoor photographs or more naturalistic poses and settings all aided in its decline. This particular image was taken in a photographer’s studio in Pudsey, near Leeds:SKM_C284e18041711450 - Copy (6) - CopyThis style of cabinet card soldiered on into the 1930s but by that point its heyday was long gone.

Happily for us, the thick card stock the photographs were pasted to makes these images very robust so they survive in good condition down to the present day, most remaining images being formal studio portraits like this example.


  1. What’s also interesting is that the sailor is wearing a cuffless jumper. Normally, men wore cuffless jumpers as working wear. The best, “going ashore” jumpers had cuffs on them. And all men were issued on on joining. I wonder why he’d go to the trouble to arranging a formal, posed, photo like this – especially with his best girl – yet not wear his No 1 uniform. I guess we’ll never know.

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