Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cabinet Photo of a Young Woman with Long Hair and Bare Arms

This is a cabinet photo (a little more than 4 x 6 inches, including the mounting) of woman wearing a dark short sleeved dress.  It was taken by F. B. Merker of Belleville, Illinois.  There is no other identifying information.
My best guess is that this is from the 1880s or 1890s, and it was unusual for a woman (or a man for that matter) to display bare arms in a formal portrait.   Also, I originally thought that was a boa draped over her shoulder, but it isn't - it's her hair, probably in a long pony tail.  Most women her age, in that era, would not have worn their hair down.
Maybe she was an actress (you know how they are).  Maybe she was ahead of her time stylistically. 
Or maybe it was a fad, or maybe it was well within the moral conventions of the time, or perhaps it was the latest and greatest from the fashion houses of Paris.  I honestly have no idea.
Unique photos are hard to find.  If it were easy to find them, they would not be unique.  I suppose every photo is unique in some way, in fact I know they are,  but some are more unique than others.  This woman's bare arms and long hair draped over her shoulder sets this photo apart.
(Old joke:  how do you find a unique photo?  You neek up on it.)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Comic Postcard - Boarding House Table Manners

I like postcards for lots of reasons - sometimes they provide views of things that don't exist anymore, sometimes, especially in the case of comics, they're a little odd. 
This is a nice colorful comic postcard, postmarked in 1913 - the state is Florida, but I can't read the city - addressed to Miss Nellie Herford, Marshall, MO., in care of Ben Hur Stock Farms.  The men in the postcard are embossed.
This card shows what is probably a sleazy character trying to get in good with whoever is top dog a a boarding house, with instructions on how to get a better selection of food.  Is it a comment on the human condition?  Probably not.  But for some reason I like it.
This looks like it may be part of a whole series of cards of this nature, but I don't know that for sure. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Three Men in Top Hats, from Wenatchee, Washington, and Coldwater & Saginaw, Michigan

This is an interesting photo.  There are 3 men, all dressed to the hilt, including gloves.  They look to be in their 30s, the one sitting on the left maybe even a little younger.  The clothing indicates they were doing well for themselves and had (or at least aspired to) some social standing.
What makes this really interesting though is what is written on the back. 
The man sitting on the left is identified as F.W. Baker, Medical Arts Co., Wenatchee, Wash.  There is also a PHC - 90 in the description, but I don't know what that means.
The man sitting on the right is identified as W.H. (Belva) Lockwood, 41 Hull Street, Coldwater, Mich.
Whoever wrote this was not sure who the man standing is, but it is either a  Dr. Parkinson, or a Dr. A. S. Rogers, both from Saginaw, Mich.  Whoever the man standing is, he was described as "now dead".  
I have no idea who wrote this information, or when they wrote it.
So if you like to search out people in old photos and find their stories, there is a lot here to go on.    Just a note - there was a Belva Lockwood who was woman involved with women's rights in the 19th century.  I don't know if that Belva Lockwood has anything to do with the "Lockwood" in this photo.
This is a cropped portion of a cabinet card - the mounting is not in great shape, tho the photo itself is just fine.  The phographer's name was Gibson, of Ann Arbor, and I'm assuming it is the Ann Arbor in Michigan, but the state is missing.
The person who wrote all that info neglected to put a date on it, but we're pretty sure this photo is from the 1890s.
Update:  Sold!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Mysterious Antique Photo of a Young Woman

I don't really know what to say about this photo - it's just something I find visually interesting.  

It's not large - just over 5 inches tall and 4 inches wide, and there is no writing or photographer information on it.

The clothing and the mounting date this to the early 20th century, but I can't really say how early.  I assume, because it's mounted on cardboard with gold trim, that it was taken by a professional photographer.    Amateur snapshots started showing up in the early 20th century, but I think this is more professional than that.

Everything about this photo seems somewhat unique, to me. 

Starting from the top - she's wearing some kind of cap or hat that you didn't see many women wearing, at least in photos.  Most women's hats of the era were big, elaborate, flowery, feathery things.  This one is hard to make out in any detail - there is a band of cloth going around it, and I can't make out a brim or bill or anything else.  It looks almost like a pillbox hat.

She's wearing a tie, and what looks like a white vest - quite masculine - with hands either in her dress or jacket pockets.  My wife would be able to tell you what kind of sleeves those are on the jacket, but I don't dare even conjecture.  She's wearing a long ankle length dress, and I cannot make out her shoes in any kind of detail.  I suspicion they are lace up boots, but that's but I have no way to prove it.  She's probably wearing a corset, but who knows.  Her hair appears short, and she's looking slightly away from the camera.  The background is a plain wall, no chairs, plants, statues, pedestals or props of any kind.  That, all by itself, is interesting.

I don't know if anyone else sees what I see in this photo or not.  To me, the whole thing pretty mysterious.   A young woman was photographed 100 to 110 years ago, and that's about all I can  say about it with any kind of certainty.

She's young, late teens or early 20s.  Is she dressed stylishly for the time, or did she just get off the boat from some eastern European country?  I don't know.   

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Black Americana Postcards - Detroit Publishing - Early 20th Century

These are two "Black Americana" postcards by Detroit Publishing, dating from the early 20th century. 

The first shows a young woman with the caption "Polly in the Peanut Patch"; the second is an old man with a watermelon with the caption "The Melon-Cholic days have come, the gladdest of the year".

Black Americana is a postcard collecting category, and for some people that's what they collect.  In the early 20th century (and in fact much later) most postcards depicting African Americans would be considered anything from mildly to blatantly racist by today's standards.  Possibly by the standards of the time too, I don't know. 

Anyway these are neat cards - not only because of the subject matter, but because of the publisher.  I've written about Detroit Publishing before, so I won't repeat everything in this post, you can click on "Detroit Publishing" in the labels and find another post I wrote if you want more info about them.  They used a special printing (or coloring) process which I think they leased from a European company and called "Phostint", and as a result their graphics are a higher quality than most other cards printed at the time. The coloring on "Polly's" card is very nice.

These are divided back cards, so that dates them to March 1907 or later - my feeling is that they are pre-WWI.

Update:  Both Sold!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Hand Colored CDV of a Little Boy - 1860s

The thing that makes this CDV interesting is that parts of it are colored.  I'm pretty sure this was done by hand and it would have had to have been a painstaking process.  The obvious colorized object is the crimson table cloth.  Not so obvious is a very slight pinkish tint on the little boy's cheeks, the gold colored buttons on his shirt and the yellows and greens in the carpet.

I think (but am not positive) that the suit he is wearing is two piece, but the shirt and pants have the same checkered design.  His shoes have what look like metal tips on them, leading us to believe that his parents may have been doing well for themselves. 

This CDV is from the 1860s - we can tell by it's trim & weight (it is relatively thin) and to a lesser extent the clothing style.  There is no tax stamp on it, so it is either before 1864 or after 1865.  Not much to go on, but at least we know when it isn't, if you can follow the logic and grammar.  There is no photographer information or writing or any kind on this photo.    And it does have come condition issues - the corners have been trimmed, and there are some spots of something near the bottom.  But it's in the neighborhood of 150 years old, so we can make allowances I guess