Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sepia Saturday #158 - Paying the Piper (Highland, That Is)

Unidentified 1880's Edinburgh Man 
I've been away from my blog for a couple of weeks on a self-imposed sabbatical hoping the rest would recharge and refresh my batteries as I have not been feeling very motivated or creative of  late.  When I saw the theme for this week's Sepia Saturday I knew exactly which photograph I wanted to use, I just had to find it in my huge stash of photographs yet to be categorized, sorted and scanned.  The theme fit into my love of all things Scottish so it was worth the hunt!

This Cartes de Visite features a handsome, young Scottish piper decked out in what appears to be traditional Highland piper's uniform.  He is standing proudly wearing a kilt, jacket, sporran, stockings and ghillies.  I can't tell if he is sporting a sgian dubh in his stockings or not to finish the look, but he is certainly impressive.

The photographer was William K. Munro who operated a studio at several locations in Edinburgh between 1868 - 1907.  According to Peter Stubbs of Munro was located at 58 Pitt Street between 1885 and 1907.  I am estimating that this photo was taken in the late 1880's.  Also, per Stubbs, Munro numbered his photographs and if you look closely at the second photo below you will see at the bottom it says No. 63526, the actual number having been written in pencil.  Stubbs' research determined that numbers after 57,000 were most likely taken at the 58 Pitt Street address.

Thanks for stopping by and if you enjoyed this photo please click here for more great photos (and stories) at Sepia Saturday!


  1. Great photo. What a terrific uniform. I have to look up sgian dubh and find out what it is.

  2. What a perfect post, and great photo he looks terrific!

  3. I suspect we all tend to look forward to a bit of a blogging break at Christmas and then look forward, just as much, to returning to it afterwards. A great photograph to return to, the kind of post that always brings me back to this fascinating hobby.

  4. Oh, that's a good photo! Now I'm looking forward to the local St. Patrick's Day parade because surprisingly there are a lot of Scottish pipe and drum bands here.

  5. Nice photo. You can really see all the details.

  6. That really is a lovely photograph. I took an even longer break, but it is good to get back.

  7. He is quite marvelous! A great find.

  8. A terrific photo and I think it's possible that the piper could be identified. My post this week was postcards of the Black Watch but I've collected a few of these piper photos too. They are often prize winning pipe majors and in this era before postcards, the photos were a popular Scottish souvenir.

    As you know there is amazing medieval heraldry in Scottish garb, but especially in the military. This piper has Sergeant chevrons and a distinctive white tassels on black sporran design that I believe best fits with the piper's sporran of the Cameron Highlanders Regt. I think the tartan even in sepia can be identified.

    There is a long discussion on this topic along with lots of images here:

    You might have to register at the Great War Forum to see all the posted images.

    This next forum post just goes on forever. Scottish costumes must take the prize for most photographed.

    It's probably more kilts and hairy bags than anyone other than a Scot would want to see, but there are lots of experts in both forums that I think would recognize this young man or certainly his regiment.

  9. I can relate! It's a good idea to step away periodically and take stock. Creativity comes in spurts, I find. You seem to have located your mojo. Can't help thinking of "Brigadoon".

    Happy New Year!

  10. Gorgeous CdV!!
    I love his uniform.
    Let's hope he was pleased with his picture.

  11. Sorry I'm so late in commenting. I'm glad I did not miss this photo - it's splendid. Now I have some more research to do from Mike's links although I did know what a sgian dubh was.


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