Family ties and mysteries

From time to time, I am asked by people to help identify photographs, even by finding a general date range. I am happy to do this when possible, although I cannot stress enough that I am not an expert and am simply sharing my general knowledge based on the research I do for this site. Recently I was contacted by site reader Jim Earl, who has a number of British CDVs and cabinet cards that pose a mystery to him. They are from his family’s photograph albums, but as with so many old photos, they were not identified at the time and now the subject names have been lost to the ages. But, because Jim’s photos are wonderful, I asked for, and he granted, permission to post them here for other reader input if any is to be had.

J Earl Beard

Quite a beard!

J Earl 1

Photographic artists Sandry & Burrow

Not much could be found on the photographer, Sandry and Burrow, except to expand the names as William James Sandry & Burrow. Sandry appears to have had a variety of partners and locations. The photo itself is a CDV of a gentleman who initially looks to be from the 1840s or 1850s to me. The squared corners of the card tell us this is most likely an 1860s image, and is possibly a reprint of a daguerrotype.

A woman and boy

A woman and boy

Another CDV made of a woman and boy, I am assuming a mother and son. Her dress is more characteristic of the 1870s, but his suit of clothes is suggestive of the 1860s. Another mystery photographer, A. Lloyd Beard from Cardiff. He made plenty of photos which are currently selling on sites like eBay, but no one seems to know when he was in business. I’m guessing at the late 1860s on this one.

Definitely 1860s here

Definitely 1860s here

This lovely image is definitely from the 1860s based on the wide hooped skirts of mother and child. The mother’s dress features a “false vest” style, which was a high-fashion look. The child has several rows of growth tucks and trim on her skirt. No photographer information was found on the photo.

J Earl Purple Bow

Fabulous hand painting

J Earl 2

Well, here is William James Sandry again!

Based on the hairstyle and dress, I’m putting this image into the 1870s. Clothing styles and hairstyles changed drastically between the 1860s and 1870s. Skirts were not the full bell shape over cage crinolines, but instead smooth fronted and draped to the rear end, in the early bustle look. Pads and small pillows were added under the skirt to emphasize the lady’s backside. Hairstyles no longer accented a nice wide face, but instead added height and angularity. This lady shows us her lovely purple tie – hand painted by the photographer – and even has rather large earrings. Her bodice is called a basque waist as it lays overtop of the skirt in a separate piece, rather than the two pieces being sewn together into one dress. The photographers were William James Sandry and E. Sandry this time.

Family time

Family time

J Earl

Howard Nicholls, photographer

This photograph is a cabinet card, turned into the landscape orientation to capture the entire family. As was common, the photograph was made out of doors so natural light could be used for the best exposure. I’d put this image in the late 1880s or very early 1890s based on the sleeve shapes of the women’s dresses. These are possibly Pascoe family members of the Cornwall Pascoes, who sailed to the US in 1856 to settle in Michigan and later Kansas in the 1870s. Jim says the family kept in touch, and clearly some of these images predate the settlement in Kansas. Others may be family who exchanged photos during the Michigan settlement. I found nothing at all on the photographer Howard Nicholls of Redruth.

While I’m afraid I did  not find anything more detailed about the photographers, such as dates of operation, I am hopeful that the general dates based on clothing are helpful for Jim. Sometimes, that is all it takes, knowing certain people are included or excluded based on the photo date. Good luck, Jim, in your search for answers to the family photographic mysteries!

 

 

 

Scrolled borders

Mounted Tin Types 13 W

Nice goatee and pink cheeks

Mounted Tin Types 11 W

Striped bodice and bow

These two tintype photos share the same scrolled border as our last photo of the middle aged woman, and for that reason I suspect they were made by the same photographer, and are family. I can’t decide of they are married or siblings, however. What is your opinion?

Mounted Tin Types 13 Back W Mounted Tin Types 11 Back W

 

Here are the backmarks of these two photos. T. M. Saurman at the corner of Main & Green Streets in Norristown, PA was a young photographer in 1870, just 23.

Thomas M. Saurman was a busy man! Born in about 1846, in 1860 he was living with his mother and family in Norristown, PA. One of the people living in the home was Frederick Spane, a painter, and someone who’s name comes up as an artist & photographer in the Norristown area. It is possible Saurman learned his trade from Spane or was inspired by him.

In 1870, Saurman was married to Eliza Davis (married in 1867) and they had a child Mary V born about 1870, as well as Eliza’s brother Charles Davis living with them.

The 1880 census is a bit sparse on information, showing Thomas living with his mother Catherine, along with his brother Othenel, aged 26, and they are both photographers. Also listed is Mary, age 17 and daughter in law to Catherine, as well as James, a 7 month old, listed as son of the head of household, which was Catherine. Maybe he was actually Mary’s child. It’s difficult to sort.

Finally, the 1900 census shows Thomas at age 55 still a photographer, his wife Eliza at age 53, daughters Mary age 30, Edith age 26, Norma age 15 and Mable age 12. Son Louis age 24 was a photographer and James age 22 was a druggist.

Here’s some more of the fun stuff. Thomas Saurman was awarded three patents. First was a print cutting apparatus in 1872. Next was a method to improve the drying of photographic plates in 1874. Finally was an improvement to a tobacco smoking pipe in 1902. Further, his son James was in the news for his pharmacology work.

Next time, another Saurman photo with a different card that will have you saying “awww.”

Softly falling jowls and a wardrobe malfunction

Mounted Tin Types 2 W

Is her dress coming open here?

A nice tintype of an older lady, maybe in her 50s? I have heard a lot of talk lately about tintypes adding years to a person’s face, so unless I see actual age signs, I’m a bit hesitant to guess. However, this lady does have the drooping eyelids and softly falling jowls of middle age.

From what I can see of her dress, it is a gathered front bodice with dropped shoulder seams, putting the dress in the 1860s. Unless my eyes are deceiving me, it looks like the front opening of the dress has popped open a smidge, showing a glimpse of the white undergarments or lining.

I read a little bit about dating tintypes in paper sleeves, and while I am confident this image is from the 1860s, I’m not certain as to what part. There was a style of paper sleeve called a cartouche that was popular until about 1865. The cartouche was characterized by an oval opening and decorative motifs around the opening. What makes me uncertain about this one is that the motifs are in the corners of the card. I’m not well versed enough in 1860s cartouche sleeves to know if that is exactly what this is. But, I’m leaning toward the second half of the 60s, or even the very end of the 60s. The card itself is CDV sized to fit with the popular styles of the time.

The style of motifs correspond with some other images I found in the same lot, so I am going to assume they were made by the same photographer, which was T. M. Saurman in Morristown, PA. My research into Saurman confuses me further on dating this particular image. He was found in the 1870 census to be only 23 years old. Could he have been in business in 1865 at only 18 years old? I find that unlikely. So this is probably not a cartouche in the style that was popular until about 1865, but an updated version for the use of photographic artists who made tintypes well until the 1900s. More on T. M. Saurman in my next post! Don’t go away.

 

Mother & Daughter lean on their fingers

Mounted Tin Types W

Hello, dearie

Mounted Tin Types 1 W

Oh, Mother!

I found these two mounted tintypes in an online auction and loved the fact that they are clearly mother & daughter AND that the subjects are in the exact same pose.  They even have matching embossed stars on the border around the photos.

I asked some very knowledgeable friends of mine about the coat that Mother is wearing, in the first image above. They tend to agree it is a garment called a sacque coat, meaning any sort of coat that buttons at the neck and is loosely hanging on the body. It ends around the waist or hip line. This particular specimen has trimmings around the hem and very large buttons that appear to be decorative rather than functional. A pocket is also evident, with something tucked inside. Perhaps it was a handkerchief or small book. The coat was probably made from wool or wool flannel, and lined with polished cotton or silk. I say “probably” because even though we don’t see the actual details of the garment, these are the most common materials for outerwear at that time. I bet it was very warm and comfortable! We don’t see much detail about her dress, except that it has a small collar and she is wearing a lovely brooch.

Second in line is the daughter, who has a bolero style over bodice with a white Garibaldi style bodice under it. This was a very popular style for young people. The over bodice is similar to the sacque coat in that it fastens at the neck and hangs loosely around the body. You can also see her large belt buckle. The dress was probably made from a fine wool, and the over bodice was likely lined with polished cotton in a solid brown or black (the most common lining in extant garments). The Garibaldi bodice was possibly made from fine cotton lawn, sheer wool or silk, depending on the family’s financial situation.

Neither card has a backmark, so I cannot tell anything about the photographer or geographic location where the tin type images were made. Each tin type is approximately 1 1/4″ by 1 1/2″, and is affixed to the mount with a sheet of thin paper glued over it. The mother’s card was trimmed down, presumably to fit into a frame or photo album. They are lovely representations of the American Civil War era or slightly thereafter, definitely pre-1870s.

Just a pretty girl in plaid

Plaid CW Girl

Pretty girl in plaid

I like this photo for the details of the clothing (no surprise there, right?). This girl is in a plaid dress that features dropped shoulder seams, long cuffed sleeves, a gathered bodice and a skirt over hoop with growth tucks. She has just a frill of lace on her neckline. Note that you see no buttons on the front of this dress. Children’s clothing buttoned in the back. I’m not completely sure why, but I have heard speculation it was so they could not undress themselves. Plaid and other types of busy patterned fabrics were popular choices for children’s clothing because it showed dirt less than a solid.

Photo by D. Clark

Photo by D. Clark

The photographer for this image was D. Clark of North Brunswick, NJ. I’m dating this photo to the 1865-1869 time frame because the image uses the whole card face, as well as the two lines of the border. There isn’t a tax stamp, so it was not from the 1864-1866 period. Prior to that, images were more typically small in the center of the card face. After 1870 the corners of the CDV cards were rounded.

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

Creepy!

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

Backmark

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.

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