I am fascinated by another category of seaside portrait, one in which people were plonked onto the backs of long suffering donkeys to have their photograph taken (there is an example on the site). As well as real donkeys, some photographers used a stuffed donkey, and sometimes a toy one made of felt. But this donkey seems to be something very different. I picked it up for £2 without looking too closely, thinking it fitted the usual ‘boy on holiday at Blackpool’ image, but now having had chance to look more closely, it seems to be something different altogether. I may be wrong, but having taken second and third opinions, it looks as if that’s a bloke in a donkey costume. Not the usual two people in a pantomime costume, but just the one. He’s bent over, and his hands seem to work the front legs. The back legs are much thicker and seem to accommodate his shoes. The little lad is also dressed in quite an elaborate embroidered jacket, and pearly buttons on his shorts which match those of the gentleman on the left.
The only thing I can suggest is that it’s perhaps a three person music hall or fairground act of some sort, who have decided to have their photograph taken. There is no clue as to where or indeed when it was taken. The painted backdrop is quite theatrical, most seaside backdrops are idyllic countryside scenes. Quite what the act consisted of we can only imagine! If anyone has any more information, please get in touch.