Three men and a finger

Three Men

Now, listen here, boys…

Today’s post-Civil War era CDV shows us three men, two of them ostensibly listening to the third. The three men are all dressed nicely, slacks, vests, coats, etc., and are well groomed. The gentleman on the right of the image has his hand raised, finger pointed, as though lecturing the other two. They could be discussing anything from the recently ended Civil War, or the price of tea in China.

A few more details caught my attention.

  • The left hand seated fellow is holding something in his hand. I can’t make out what it is, and it looks for all the world like a cell phone, lol.
  • The men’s shoes are nice Oxford style shoes, one of the most popular menswear fashions ever, as they are still available today.
  • The fellow standing also seems to be holding something, in his far hand. It might be a glove or other textile item.
  • The photo itself was shot slightly off kilter, giving the whole thing a left leaning feeling, even though the print is placed relatively centered and squared on the card.

I date the photo to 1864-1866 due to the tax stamps on the reverse.

Three Men Back

3 cents per image, please

Although the stamps have been removed – probably by a collector – they were poorly removed and we can see the fellows paid 3 cents tax on the image. The tax was collected to help pay for damages and reparations from the devastating Civil War. Luxury items were taxed at certain rates, photographs included. The rate of tax was based on how much the individual paid for the item.

Painted Eyes

Painted Eyes

Solemn gentleman

At first glance, this CDV dated to the 1860s looks like a rather benign fellow with fluffy hair and a frock coat. Perhaps he has an intense gaze, but otherwise, he’s somewhat average. Until you look closely at his eyes.

Painted Eyes - Version 2


This is one of the few examples I have of the photographer having painted on eyes.  For whatever reason, the photographer did not like the appearance of the eyes and enhanced them on the negative prior to printing the image. I have read of this being done, so I was especially excited to acquire this CDV. I know, kind of sick haha. I imagine the subject had light colored eyes that did not show up on the photo very well. I have definitely seen that on many occasions. It is also possible he blinked or otherwise moved his eyes so they didn’t show up correctly. It is unfortunate that the photographer did such a poor job at enhancing the eyes though. They look like cartoon eyes.

Painted Eyes Back


As you can see from the back of the card, photographer S. C. Jewell didn’t make up new cards at the time he took this portrait. It appears the studio was purchased from D. D. Haines in Bourbon, Indiana. It is likely that to save on expenses, Jewell simply used the stock of mounts on hand until they ran out and he was forced to purchase more. I have not been able to find anything about either photographer in a cursory search. Of note, I do have another photograph made by a Haines in Albany, NY. To see it and the brief discussion of the Haines name, click the category Haines & Wickes Photographers. Based on the two lines on the border, the absence of a tax stamp, and the image taking up the entire face of the card, I am dating this to post Civil War, 1864-1869.

Pretty Poem

Poem Girl

Pretty as a poem

This CDV dated to the 1860s looks like a photograph of a painting or other type of illustration. That was popular for photographers to generate income in addition to their stock in trade. Photographs of famous figures, such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, could be purchased at the same studio where an individual might sit for their own portrait. This particular image captured my imagination because of what was written on the back.

Poem Girl Back

A poem from Isa B

Along the right hand side it says “With compliments of Isaiah Black.” The poem goes as follows:

When the dove in eastern lands

Is loosened from its captive chains

How swift it flies o’re desert sands

To seek its own dear nest again.

Somewhere in other lands I stray

Or even cross the troubled sea

My trusting heart will never stay

But fly on friendships wing to thee.

This sounds a lot like Isa B is leaving and wants the recipient to be his friend. Nothing like underlining “friendship” to make sure the message is clear!

Unfortunately, the photographer of this particular piece didn’t use a back mark, and so we don’t know where the studio was located.

UPDATE: Thanks to site reader Juliette Kings, we now know the picture is of Evangeline, heroine of the famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie. The poem was published in 1847 and had considerable impact on both Longfellow’s career as well as culturally, as it tells the tale of the deportation of French Acadians from Nova Scotia by the British in 1755. The particular deportation was centered in Nova Scotia, Canada, but many Acadians made their way south to America, and eventually Louisiana where their culture and language formed the basis of the modern day Cajun culture. In the poem, Evangeline and her lover Gabriel are cast out of Acadia and become separated. Evangeline spends the rest of her life wandering through America, looking for him. It is a truly romantic poem that spans two sections, each with five parts. School children across America were made to memorize parts of it. …this is the forest primeval… It is available for free on Kindle and is only 44 pages long, and is well worth the moment you need to download it.

Further Reading

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Evangeline on the Maine Historical Society website

Overview of the epic poem Evangeline on Wikipedia

Free version of Evangeline to download on

Louisiana State Parks Longfellow-Evangeline Historical Site

A late addition


A much later date

This particular gem tintype was added to the Red Gem album after all the pages were filled – making me wonder about the duplicate images and why the owner didn’t remove one of those. The image was also obviously cut to the general shape of an oval, so perhaps it was going to be used in some other way and as an afterthought was added to the album. The tape has damaged the finish on the edges but fortunately the beautiful face is intact. The clothing looks to be from the 1880s and is lovely. Notice the asymmetrical details – buttons on one side, ribbon on the other. She appears to be leaning on something that looks like it could be the back of a chair, but it’s much too narrow. So, I am going to conclude it was some sort of prop used for these types of poses.

Well, that concludes our look at the Red Gem album and nary a name to be found. I have two more gem albums, a bunch of interesting CDVs and tin types, and of course many more cabinet cards to share with you. See you again soon!

1870s gems

Gems 24

Sisters? Friends?

This page of our Red Gem album shows two ladies on the younger side of life. Their hair styles are definitely early 1870s.

Beads & Embroidery

Beads & Embroidery

Here the hair has been gathered in the back, has sausage curled ringlets on one side, and a fluff on the top. The combination of elements is interesting, plus she has something I can’t quite identify that looks like a round bun, but I’m not certain. Notice also that she has a bead necklace on top of her collar, and the collar itself has been embroidered with a small motif. She also has something – possibly a decorative button or small pin – right at the top of her collar. Her dress has vertical stripes.

Pretty plaid

Pretty plaid

While at first glance, this tiny image doesn’t scream “fashionista,” at closer inspection there are some details that bear examination. She has drop earrings in a teardrop style, and a fine white band collar, but most interesting is that on top of her plaid bodice, there are motifs of trim in a circular pattern. Look at her shoulder and the cuffs of her sleeves. These braid loops could have been found preset in their shape, or arranged by the seamstress in the desired pattern. The detail is not of high enough resolution for me to tell any further how they were applied.

Slouch hat

Gems 23

Two very different hats

Today we have two very different hats – a man’s slouch and a woman’s pill box. Let’s take a closer look.

A crooked little man

A crooked man

I’m reminded of a bit of whimsy, the nursery rhyme dated back the King Charles I of England (1600-1649), but only because this dude’s picture is crooked in the book.

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.

He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.

He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

I played around with the photo a bit, just to see what I could do, and the result is a much straighter image.

Sit up, man!

Sit up, man!

It is much easier to appreciate the image now that it is straightened! I love his slouch hat, cocked a bit in the brim. I like to imagine the brim became creased there due to his constantly tipping his hat to the ladies. The lovely, full mustache is so “manly man” it makes me wonder if he was considered to be dashing by the ladies of his time. He’s got a nice strong jawline too, deep eyes, straight nose….ah, sigh….  :-) The coat over the patterned vest, the bow tie and velvet lapels, all make me think this man was the catch of the town.

Was this his lady?

Was this his lady?

This fine Miss has quite a fashionable hat. It appears to be velvet, although from what we now know of wet plate photography, it is unlikely it was black!

Uncredited but not mine

Uncredited but not mine

A Facebook acquaintance had this on their page, and while I asked for credit information I didn’t get it. So, I can’t tell you where it came from, but I would if I could. SO HELPFUL! You can see that black, brown,red, yellow and green all photograph as nearly black, whereas blue, purple and pink photograph as nearly white. I’m no photographer, so I can’t explain the reasons why this happened, but it does reveal to us that the hat may have been yellow and the dress blue!

There are only a couple more pages in this book, and then I have some fun CDVs to show you. Stick around for more!


Gems 22

Curls and frizz

One lady looking superior, one young woman looking disgruntled. Such is life when arranging your hair for the photographer.

Smooth, oiled curls

Smooth, oiled curls

In order to show off her perfect sausage curls, this lady has her head tilted in a 3/4 profile. Unfortunately, this gives us the “side glance” from her, and she looks a bit snooty, doesn’t she? Her clothing looks nice, well kept and fine, so perhaps she had reason to be smug.

Gems 22 - Frizz

Frizzed out

By contrast, this soft faced girl has her hair brushed out in back, with soft, frizzy curls on top, as well. She is the antithesis of her page-neighbor. She wears what looks to be a knitted shawl over her dress, and there is also a long chain of round links, first around her neck and then draped across her bodice. That was probably a style her friends were also wearing at the time.

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