This photo can be dated to the 1890’s in several different ways. The clothing the children wear is definitely from this time period. In Joan Severa’s Dressed For The Photographer she mentions in the 1890’s the young girls ‘waists shirred to form a yoke, and full bishop sleeves shirred at the wrist.’ For the older boy the Nassau was in style – ‘the popular suit for small boys for ordinary wear, having jacket with square front . . . and a simulated vest which is buttoned in at side seams and can be exchanged for a shirt-waist.’ The younger boy wears a sailor jacket, popular from that time period.
But most telling is the photo card itself. The use of the beveled edge for cards began in 1885. The card is not rough or plain, but coated front and back, dating the card from 1888 to 1900. The embossed gold foil of the photographer’s name dates this card from 1890 to 1900. There is no imprint on the back of the card. Remember, this was used mostly for advertising for the photographer. By the middle and late 1890’s there were fewer back imprints – ‘Since it was considered a period of elegance and simplicity, the heavily adorned backs of earlier cards did not fit into the current style,’ from 19th Century Card Photos Kwik Guide.
The photographer, Thomas C. Partridge, was located at 8 Sepulchre Street, Sudbury, England, when this photo was taken. The name was changed to Gainsborough Street by 1900, in honor of Thomas Gainsborough, the famous portrait painter from the second half of the 18th century, whose birth place is located at 46-47 Gainsborough Street. Another clue to date this photo to the late 1890’s!