Violin Virtuoso?


This is Daisy Holmes. This photobooth photo was taken in the late 1930s.

I was particularly thrilled to find the top image, as my great-grandfather, grandfather and mother were all professional violinists. My mum only retired from teaching in 2014, at the age of 85. I excitedly showed it to her on its arrival from the US, thinking she would be as pleased as I was. Her only comment was, “An instrument that big could not possibly be played by a child that size.”. Okay, not what I was expecting, but useful information for a non-musician such as myself.

So, the question is, was this a family instrument Daisy hoped one day to learn to play? Was it a prop used by anyone who ventured into the photomaton studio? Did she learn the violin and not having her own fiddle with her, choose the oversized prop instrument? Or did she just aspire to learn, with this being her way of communicating her desire to her parents?

Although completely automated, photobooths were originally situated in groups, in shops leased specifically for the purpose. You would pay at a counter, take a ticket to an attendant, who would guide you through the process by telling you how to pose to get the best portrait results.

As it had been in penny photo studios and even in more formal photographic studios, props were supplied that could be used by the clients in whatever combinations they desired.  Hats, coats, ties, sporting equipment and musical instruments might have been part of the selection offered. What you chose told the world about you: your hobbies, aspirations, desires.

Daisy was definitely telling a story about herself in the top photo, sending a message to anyone who saw it. Below, she is just an ordinary little girl. Above she is an aspiring artist, musician, actress or . . .

Any other ideas? Let me know by leaving a comment below.


Daisy on 16 April 1938

  1. I guess it WAS a special trip. Photobooths were still very much a novelty. They were mostly found in larger towns and cities. People don’t get dressed up to go to town anymore, let alone to get their photo taken, but they certainly did in the 1930s!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John said:

    I say the violin is a prop, it does look inordinately large for the girl but it’s a sweet photo. These photos always leave me wondering what path these people’s lives took. Such a mystery, and are they still with us today…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That was my thought when I saw the photo, that the violin was too large for her. Could be a prop and maybe that’s all they have for her to learn with. Nice history lesson and look into someone’s past.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your mother is right, the violin is certainly a prop. They probably had some dolls, flowers, fancy umbrellas or books, but Daisy chose an oversized instrument. Dream big!

    Liked by 1 person

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