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by Maureen A. Taylor

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# Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Overseas Military Uniforms
Posted by Maureen

Justin Piccirilli is an extremely patient genealogist. He first contacted me back in 2005 about these images, which he thinks depict his great uncle Costabile Piccirillo in a military uniform.

This is part one of a two-part photo identification problem that covers both military history and foreign family photos.

As you probably know from reading past columns, deciphering clues in a military image is a challenge. There were no standard uniforms in the 19th and early 20th century.

This gorgeous portrait shows a young man in a dress uniform. I know it’s a dress uniform because of the white gloves and shiny epaulets at the shoulders. Each metal piece of his uniform is freshly polished for this important portrait.

This full-body picture shows this man at attention with some simple props—a vase of flowers and a doily on a table.


Here, just the man’s head is visible in a picture postcard, framed with illustrated symbols of his native land. The photographer hand-colored the plume red and blue. The photo format gives a beginning time frame for the postcard—photo postcards first became available in 1900.

It’s an interesting card. Each symbol is there for a reason. Here’s part one of the breakdown:
  • Underneath the oval portrait are the letters SPQR, which stand for the Latin motto of Rome, Senātus Populusque Rōmānus ("The Senate and the People of  Rome").
  • Beneath the motto, the words Ricordo di Roma translate to  “Souvenir of Rome.” You also can see the sons of Rome, Romulus and Remus, nursing from their wolf mother.
  •  At the bottom is the photographer’s name, G. Tibaldi, with the words fotografia artistica. Under his name is V. Fabio Massimo.83. I think the 83 refers to 1883, perhaps the year he opened his studio, but I’m not familiar with this term. Anyone seen this before?

  •  Along the bottom edge are the words fotografo dei RR.CC and Vietata la Riproduzione. The latter is essentially a copyright statement.

  • Four vignettes around the oval depict famous Roman battles and scenes. 
This identification is a work in progress. I’ll fill you in on more details next time.

men | Military photos | Photos from abroad
Tuesday, February 12, 2008 6:55:06 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #  Comments [5]
Thursday, February 14, 2008 8:13:41 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
V.Fabio Massimo 83 it´s the adress (street Fabio Massimo, number 83).
I love your colum on Family Tree Magazine. It`s my favorite.
And beyond beeing inteligente you are beautiful too.
Vera Helena Zveibil
Friday, February 15, 2008 3:06:28 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Thank you Vera! I'm working on the other details in the postcard and will have more on this picture in two weeks.
Friday, February 15, 2008 9:09:39 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I think that V. Fabio Massimo is a person's name, possibly the photographer? It's not an Italian term.
Hanoch McCarty
Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:39:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Hi Maureen,
He's probably a member of the King's Guard. My cousin has a similar photo of her grandfather, my gr-uncle. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy, though she has been promising one. Our photo was taken in the early 1900s, before 1910. The Italian King was Victor Emanuele.

Rosemary U'Ren
Saturday, February 23, 2008 2:20:58 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)

I am quite certain that "V. Fabio Massimo, 83" is the address of the studio. "V." would be an abbreviation for "Via," and "83" would be the street number. This is consistent with street numbering conventions in Europe and Latin America.


Drew Hogwood
Drew Hogwood
Comments are closed.