Photo Provenance Project

Photo Provenance Project: James Young with Gold Medallions

Photo Provenance Project-01


Learn more about this project here.


Today’s photo is one I had not seen until recently.  It features James Young, my 2nd great-grandfather.  James was born in 1876 in Scotland to James Young & Ann Vickers.  He married Catherine Brown in 1898.  They had six children, five born in Scotland, one in Montana.  They immigrated to the US around 1910 and eventually settled in Spokane, Washington.

Here is the lovely, new-to-me, photo of James Young:


James Young b 1876 gold medallion
James Young


James Young b 1876 gold medallion, photo card back
back of photo holder


Gregg Young wrote this regarding the provenance of this family photo:

Subjects in photo:  James Young (b. 1876)

My relationship: My paternal grandfather.

Photo Information: My Grandmother, Catherine Young (nee Brown) had a number of photographs. These came into my father’s possession after her death.  After his passing, this photo came to me.   

This photo is a professional photo by “Stephens Home Portraits” as pressed into the photo paper and can be seen on his left arm.  While the photo is in gray tones the medallions that he is wearing have been colored gold. I cannot discern what the medallions say or show but must have importance in the photo.  The photo has been in the original brown protective folder provided by the studio. 

The photo is roughly 4 ½ by 7 inches.  The folder is 5 ½ by 8 ½ inches and is embossed as shown above.  I was hoping that the embossed folder would help in identifying where the photo was taken but it means nothing to me. 

I do not know the date of the photo but judging the age of James in the photo to be around 30 years would put the photoshoot about 1906.  This photo could have been taken in Scotland, Canada, or the United States as he was in all three countries around this time. 

Confirmation: I have never met my grandfather as he passed before I was born, however, I have seen numerous photos identified by both my father as well as my aunt Mary Costello (nee Young) with this same subject.



Shared with me by Gregg Young in an email dated 19 August 2019.


For those who may wish to contact Gregg, please comment on this post or send me an email (address on the sidebar) and I will forward your message on to him!


10 thoughts on “Photo Provenance Project: James Young with Gold Medallions”

    1. I agree, Amy!! Gregg estimates his age to be about 30 which would put the photo taken in about 1906. I don’t disagree, but I’m not the best at estimating ages in adults. 😉 Eventually I hope to spend some time identifying the photographer which may help narrow down the date.

      1. Thirty seems about right, or even younger. Not one wrinkle on his face! I know even my daughters now have lines at 35 and 39, but they also have spent too much time in the sun…

    1. Ooooh, interesting possibility, Alex! Thank you. What do you think about the fact that the photographer’s mark reads Stephens’ ? I was working under the thought that the last name of the photographer would be Stephens, but now you have me thinking through that again.

      I know that his wife and children were in Dunoon during roughly the time frame of this photo. I don’t think he was there on that trip, I don’t have a solid date for his immigration yet, but it appears to predate their Dunoon trip.

      I’ve never used this site before, thank you!! I did a check for the last name of Stephens and didn’t see any obvious matches to locations I can place James in. But this will be super handy for lots of my unknown Scottish photo analysis. You are awesome!!

      1. It could be that Charles Stephens had other members of his family involved in the business and perhaps the idea of Home Portraits was an offshoot of the business as an extra service? Of course it may be totally different and a coincidence with the surname and might have been taken elsewhere. Not knowing the timeframe Charles Stephen was trading in Dunoon is a bit frustrating as I’m not finding him listed in Dunoon at least in 1901 – but of course he may have worked out of Dunoon but not lived there. So many possibilities. If I do come across anything else that might help I will let you know!

  1. Lovely photo! And, I love how you are documenting these family treasures. You mentioned that the photo was in gray tones but the medallion had been painted gold. I noticed the eyes have been colored blue or green as well as pink color added to the cheeks and bow tie.

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