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  1. #1
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    curious Gordons piper

    I just came across this photo on Ebay, I've not seen anything like it.



    It's obviously a Gordon Highlander, as you can see from the collar badges and the crossbelt badge.

    True that Gordons pipers seem to have more different sporran styles than any other regiment, but this is a new one to me.

    I think the cantle has St Andrew with his cross.

    Two possibilities come to mind

    1) it's a Territorial or Volunteer Battalion. Sometimes these had different kit, in all or part.

    2) it's a 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders piper from immediately after the 1881 amalgamation.

    It was the uniform of the 2nd Battalion, the old 92nd Highlanders, which after 1881 was adopted for both Battalions.

    The 1st Battalion was the old 75th Highlanders, who were de-kilted in 1809. Did they have pipers? If so, what did the pipers wear? I can't seem to find an image of the pipers of the Victorian-era 75th Highlanders.

    It wouldn't surprise me if that was the sporran of the pre-1881 75th pipers, which got continued for a time after 1881.

    It happened in the Argylls, where the old sporrans of the pipers of the 91st Highlanders continued to be worn for a time by the pipers of the 1st Battalion The Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders.

    To compare, here's a photo of the pre-1881 92nd Highlanders piper uniform.

    Last edited by OC Richard; 21st June 20 at 11:26 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  2. #2
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    Definitely, it's not piper of regular battalions.
    1st and 2nd Battn pipers wore shoulder wings of different pattern.
    75th (Stirlingshire ) regiment never had pipers.

    I suppose , he's piper of 3rd (Royal Aberdeenshire Highland Militia) Battalion Gordon Highlanders or
    1st Volunteer Battalion (former 1st Aberdeenshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, became 1st VB in 1884) Gordon Highlanders just after 1881. Both of them had St. Andrews with cross on cap badges (and probably on sporrans?).
    I have photo of PM of 3rd Battn George Stewart MacLennan with similar sporran.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Dear OC Richard, your second photo shows 2nd Batt GH piper much later 1881.

  3. #3
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    Thanks! That does look like the same sporran.

    It's interesting about GS MacLennan, nearly every photo shows him in ordinary Gordons uniform, but I did find this



    The 75th Highlanders did have pipers early on, there's a couple watercolours showing them.

    It's an interesting and little-discussed thing, the uniform of the six Highland regiments that were de-kilted in 1809.

    Three of them were later granted trews, the 72nd in 1823, the 74th in 1845, and the 91st in 1864.

    But the other three, the 71st, 73rd, and 75th never seemed to get any measure of Highland Dress.

    I wouldn't have known that this is a Highland officer- not even dicing on the shako (the 75th, later to become 1st Battalion The Gordon Highlanders)



    About pipers, there are plenty of images of pipers of the three regiments who were later granted trews, but with the three who didn't regain any measure of Highland Dress I don't see any images of pipers post-1809.

    Which I suppose explains why the pipers of of the two post-1881 battalions of the Seaforths and the Argylls wore wearing differing kit. With the Argylls I think it was only differing sporrans, and was short-lived, but the two battalions of the Seaforths never did unify their pipers' kits.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 23rd June 20 at 08:50 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  4. #4
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    Did someone draw in part of that photo with a pencil, Richard? Their kilts, legs, spats, and shoes look oddly cartoonish in the centre of the photo. I wonder if the photo was damaged and this was a repair, or if the original exposure was touched up.

  5. #5
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    photo touchup

    That is a press style photo touchup. In the days of hot press and cold type they use to touch up the photos to increase the contrast so the camera could make clearer halftones. The retouching was done on the photo itself before it when to the engraving department. You can see the spats would have been pretty much the same tone as the pavement. I was quite common on headshots too Everyone looked like they had wax lips on.

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  7. #6
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    I hate when the do that!

    It was very popular back in the day.

    What's especially bad is when they would hand-colour B&W photos before the advent of colour photography.

    Not so bad when they got things right, but often the painters didn't know the right colours for things.



    I've seen these errors creep into books about the uniforms of the Scottish regiments.

    Like when a painter made a Black Watch piper's kilt and plaid two different tartans, on an old post card, and it was copied by the illustrator of a book about the Black Watch.

    What's happened many times is the painter not understanding how diced hose are made, and putting checkerboard hose on Victorian soldiers. (They made the buttons yellow, but they didn't do the sporran hardware, nor the stripe in the tartan.)



    They even do that today! Somebody "colorized" a bunch of WWI photos, but they made the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders sporrans brown! And they made the hose claret & white instead of scarlet & white.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 24th June 20 at 12:36 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  9. #7
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    3rd Battalion Gordon Highlanders pipers
    Click image for larger version. 

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    and Pipe-Major
    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	38959

  10. #8
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post

    I wouldn't have known that this is a Highland officer- not even dicing on the shako (the 75th, later to become 1st Battalion The Gordon Highlanders)


    in fact, 75th Regiment of Foot wore Kilmarnock (or "Cheese Cutter") forage cap with Highland diced border from 1863, and little bit later, Hindustan tiger was added above "75".

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	38961

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