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Ask our Experts :: Dating and Locating Photos with Jayne Shrimpton

Question from Gwyn Gillard:

Please could you suggest when this photo was taken. The gentleman in the centre in the pale suit and pale top hat was married in April 1882 in Melbourne and I wonder if this picture could have been taken at his wedding. I would be extremely grateful for your opinion.

Advice from Jayne Shrimpton: This interesting scene depicts a group of stylish men posing in the doorway of a public building. Their suave appearance expresses the tailored, pencil-slim fashions of the later 1880s and 1890s, a look that inspired the new term ‘mashers’ for exquisitely-dressed men about town. Key features of this elegant late-Victorian male style are their tall-crowned bowler hats (a shape that evolved in the mid-1880s), slender frock and morning coats and narrow trousers. Grey pin-striped trousers accentuated the admired silhouette and fashionable accessories included canes and umbrellas.

Fashion evidence demonstrates that your photograph dates from the mid-late 1880s or early 1890s. Unfortunately this timeframe means the photo doesn’t link to a wedding from 1882, nor do these gents appear to be attending a wedding. Scrutinising the printed words, I deciphered ‘Lynch Family Bellringers’ and found much information online, including an identical copy of your photograph, in which these men are identified as Henry Lynch and four sons who began bell ringing in Geelong in 1867. Click here for more information. You may know all this already, but if not it will give an interesting twist to your research!

It would be helpful to identify the location and perhaps Inside History readers may recognise the building, which the poster to the right suggests could be a theatre or concert hall. If you can name the building in question, please email


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