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Ambrotype Veteran?

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I've posted this picture previously but was never really happy that the medal was nailed down.

The picture is easily found on t'tinternet and has various captions associated with it. The seated gent is always seen as a veteran but it varies from Waterloo, Peninsular Wars to the Crimean and the US Civil War.

It's an Ambrotype photo on a glass plate from around 1850-60. It was found at an auction (Christie's I think) by Bruce Bernard in the 1970s who later tracked it down again for inclusion in his book "photodiscovery". The caption in this book reads "Veteran of Waterloo and his wife".




I've played with the photo a bit 

First of all I think the photo is backwards (these etched glass plates were supposed to be viewed against a dark background) as the medal should be worn on the left and now his coat buttons up correctly - it sort of looks more natural this way round.

vet 2.jpg

Then crop our hero out - he looks like he's had a pretty nasty crack on the nose at some point

vet 3.jpg

And then zoom in on the medal

vet 4.jpg

Although the bars are similar to the clasps on the Peninsular War GSM the medal itself does not. For one thing it looks to be a swinging type - the medal is not central to the ribbon - and it neither looks to be either side. What could it be?


Edited by Spasm
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  • 2 weeks later...


This is an ambrotype photo - a positive photo on glass - (ie there's only one, like a polariod or a print on paper). They were started to be used around 1850 and were superseded by the Tintype process around 1860. Produced in that 10 year period then.

The MGSM was approved in 1847 (which had to be retrospectively applied for) and awarded for campaigns between 1793 and 1814. 

So our man in the picture above could have been 18ish in 1793 or 18ish in 1814 to give his age between 56 and 87.  I'd put him in there somewhere. 

Cheers, Steve


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Spasm is correct in stating that it is a one of a kind image like a polaroid  or ferrotype (and I add: photobooth picture or daguerreotype or slide). As different as all these different types of photographic images are, what they have in common is that there is no negative to print duplicates from (so NO print on paper, so here Spasm is wrong as in this kind of process NO PRINTING is done). Through a chemical process during the development of the latent image, the negative becomes a positive through a chemical process. If you want or need copies of the image (prints), the image in question would have to be re-photographed to be reproduced. As negatives are always mirror inverted the old procedures mentioned show the image "the wrong way round", or "backwards" as Spasm puts it. And that is way. So are daguerreotypes, ferrotypes, ambrotypes, slides and the early photobooth pictures. In the later years the manufacturers of photobooths installed a prism in front of the light sensitive surface of the medium, that made the image look "right" again so that it could be used in passports etc.




Edited by GreyC
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I've also really liked this image.  The old grizzled veteran and his wife.

I think the wife is wearing her best (looks to be a paisley patterned shawl) and is almost smiling (not common at that time as it was a serious matter to go get your photo taken).

The Paisley design first appeared around 200AD in Persia - during the 1600s the Paisley pattern started to appear on shawls imported by the East India Company. In the 1800s the weavers in the town of Paisley, Scotland became the primary producers of the pattern due to their skill in producing the design in more than two colours. 

The wife's shawl looks to be more than a two colour design - probably a very expensive item at the time.

The old man is wearing his best - albeit well worn and obviously old at that time - but still wearing a jacket with waistcoat and a chain . No doubt a timepiece in there somewhere.  The medal doesn't seem to be attached to the chain but has not just been pinned onto the overcoat - it may be pinned to the jacket/waistcoat and then folded onto the coat just before the picture was taken. No idea why the overcoat and shawl were not taken off. Maybe it was cold, or maybe the wife wanted her bonnet and shawl to be in the photo.

But I still can't pinpoint the medal. The clasps do definitely look to be a MGSM with 6 clasps. But the medal and hanging bar just isn't quite right. And I can't really see the Queen's head there - although I remember reading that at some time the medals were worn differently - ie displaying what we would now call the reverse.

So  I gave up checking all the medals I could think of and settled on the MGSM:    

Maybe one of us will find it, thanks all, Steve


Edited by Spasm
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  • 4 months later...

Dear gents,


lovely to see this nice image in such a high quality. I must've seen it a thousand times checking the wikipedia for the MGSM.

A CDV of this image was just recently auctioned off on Ebay, achieving a high price:


The CDV comes with a paper, telling us that the man is "Mr. Trimble". We might never be a hundred percent sure if it is really him, and why he is not also proudly wearing his waterloo medal (if the description is correct). But I'd save the name as long as I come across a better one 😉


I am also pretty sure it is the GMSM. The age of the image, the clasps and the straight bar mounting indicate that for me. For comparison, here is a photo of veteran Christian von Duering, also showing off his awards from left to right: the knight of the Guelphic Order, the GMSM, the british Waterloo medal and the hanoverian medal for volunteers of the KGL 1814. Unfortunately I can't give you a high detailed scan, as the photo is behind glass.


Furthermore I've attached two excerpts of his listing in the Harts annual army list and a hanoverian Rangliste.


Kind regards,






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  • 2 weeks later...
On 05/10/2020 at 23:13, Metallica said:

@Metallica Wow now that is one nice picture - I know of only a handful of photographies of Hannover Veterans of the Kings German Legion with their medals on, thanks for showing / sharing! Do you own this wonderful piece, if I may ask? Cheers and greetings from Hannover.





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On 17/10/2020 at 14:02, ArHo said:

Do you own this wonderful piece, if I may ask?

Hi ArHo,


thank you for the kind words! Yes, I am lucky to call this photo my own. It is framed and behind glas, the backside still "sealed".

Out of my head I also only know 2 more photos of KGL veterans, and only a few more of hanoverian veterans in general, most of them in more or less worse photo-quality.

I'd love to see more medal-wearing photos of those seniors!


Greetings from Koblenz!


Kind regards,


Edited by Metallica
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