Wide Lace Collar

Wide Lace W

Beautiful lacework and ringlet curls

This British woman in her middle age posed for a portrait with Thomas Fall of Portman Square, London, and others. Her bodice is covered with an elaborate lace collar that is edged with fine rondels and fastened with a brooch. You can just see the buttons of her dress and so it is likely the dress opened independently of the lace, and the lace either laid flat over top or was fastened with hidden hooks on the shoulder. Unfortunately we cannot see any more of her dress. Her hair was pulled back in a full, pompadour style and then ringlets were added behind her ears. I cannot tell if the ringlets go all the way across the back of her head. It would be a sight to see!

There are two possibilities about this fashion choice. One is that she is older and the ringlets were her preferred style when she was young. Another is that she isn’t as old as she looks and is simply emulating a fashionable hairstyle of her time. Vintage photographs, CDVs and cabinet cards of the 19th century in particular, can make people look much older than they were.

According to the backmark of the CDV card, Thomas Fall had studios at 9 & 10 Baker Street, Portman Square W as well as 6 Fitzjohn’s Promenade, Finchley Road, Hampstead NW. Note his post script, which indicates that he has all negatives for the previous 15 years, representing nearly 70,000 sitters. Would that we could view those negatives and records now!

Wide Lace back W

Thomas Fall of London and Hampstead

 

Uncle Taylor

Uncle Taylor W

A droopy beard and whiskers

Uncle Taylor back W

Uncle Taylor

Do you think that Uncle Taylor was from Sheffield, or his last name was Sheffield? He bears a strong resemblance to Tomkins/Tom King, and I wonder if they were related somehow.

Uncle Taylor wore a nice three piece suit for his photograph and a bow tie. I notice that although his beard is quite full, his forehead is quite large. Is there some compulsion by men losing their hair to grow out their beard?

The photograph was made by Edward Atkinson at 8 Norfolk Row, Sheffield, England.

Bowler

Bowler W

Bowler, mustache and wavy hair

Today’s CDV shows us a later 19th century image of a handsome man, posed in front of a faux baluster. These types of scenes were designed to set the mood as pastoral, elegant, and otherwise affluent. He is wearing a fine coat, buttoned only at the top. This is a known style for menswear in certain periods of the era. He also has a neckcloth and vest visible beneath his coat, and even a chain for his watch just visible at mid torso. I particularly like his wavy hair, so I’m happy he chose to hold his bowler hat instead of wear it! Also notice his mustache, a fine specimen if ever there was one.

Bowler back W

Birtles, Northwich and Knutsford

The photographer who made the image was T. Birtles of Northwich and Knutsford.

 

Carlos W

Carlos W

A fine man was Carlos

Carlos back W

Carlos Deana Worlwich?

This fine fellow with his mutton chop whiskers is Carlos. Carlos was photographed sometime in the 1860s, but I don’t know where as there is no photographer’s mark on the card. What can we glean from this image? Carlos was losing his hair and tried to do a fancy comb about on top that reminds me personally a bit of a baby’s curl. He compensated for his lack of upper hair with fine facial hair. His suit has wide lapels and you can see the satin or silk watermarks in them. He has a fancy silk neckcloth with some sort of fastener on it.

Can you read the handwriting? It looks like Carlos Deana Worlwich to me. Could the name Worlwich on a second line indicate that was where he lived? There’s a town in England with that name. Was the name Carlos a popular one in England?? So many questions!

What does this all have to do with the polka, you ask? I’m going out on a limb to suggest that Carlos was from Spain or Mexico & Latin America, where polka music was – and still is – very popular. Here in Southern California, we hear Norteño, Tejano, and Cojunto all the time, and probably don’t think a thing about it! During the 19th century, Europeans were emigrating to the Americas, and many settled in Mexico, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, etc. Of course the immigrants influenced local culture, and their music was combined, resulting in the polka style music with the Spanish lyrics. The accordion, tuba and piano are crucial instruments in an ensemble. Just as Mexican and Latin culture influenced European foods, these styles of music from “South of the Border” have an exciting spice and vitality to them!

Here’s a sampling of one of my favorite bands, Los Lobos, California boys who found fame when they provided music for the film La Bamba! which was about the fated singer Ritchie Valens. This recording is from 1987 when they were first starting out, but they are still around and still making great music!

To learn more about polka, just step off to Sepia Saturday for a whirl around the dance floor!

And a one, and a two….

Tom King

Tom King W

Does it say King or something else?

This distinguished gentleman was identified, to a degree. The person who wrote his name did not have the best penmanship. Is his name Tom King? Tomkins? What do you all think? He has a fine beard, neat coat and tie, high forehead and deep eyes.

Tom King back W

D. Jones, Artist

In this same batch of photographs is someone with the last name Tomkins, so I am leaning toward that, but at first blush, it does look like Tom King. Mr. WhoEverHeWas was photographed by D. Jones in Liverpool, England. Studios were located at 66 Bold Street and 11 Church Street.

Checkered

Checkered W

Checkered fabric and wide lace collar

This CDV from Leicester shows us a round faced young woman in her Sunday best dress. The bodice is called a fan front as it has a darted inner lining that fits close to the body, and the outside fashion fabric is gathered at the waist, creating a loose fan shape from her waist to shoulders. Hidden inside the folds are the fasteners, but you can just see her waistband as well and it appears to have buckled a bit during her sitting. Her sleeves are called double pagoda sleeves. The shape of the sleeve was narrow at the top and wide open at the hem. These are doubled as they have an upper sleeve ending around her elbow with a lower sleeve that reaches her wrist. Underneath that, she would have worn undersleeves of lightweight cotton that tied onto the arm above the elbow and had a small cuff at the wrist. The bodice then has a wide lace collar that is held together in front by a large oval brooch. These styles combined tell us the fashions are from the late 1850s. The style of the fan fronted bodice lingered into the 1860s but the collar styles changed to small peter pan style collars made of white cotton. It is possible this is a reprint of an earlier image.

These descriptions of course are all generalizations because there is always one exception to every rule, but for the most part they hold true. The hairstyle also suggests the 1850s. Although a center part and oiled hair was popular through the end of the ’60s, rolling it over rats at the chinline to create a wide face was introduced in the ’50s and was the dominant style. In 1860s images I often see women with their hair parted and oiled but without the rats to add volume.

A hair rat, by the way, is a small pad of hair used to provide volume. As women brushed their hair every day, hair naturally came out, and it was collected in a hair receiver (small covered porcelain dish) on her vanity. Once the receiver was full, the hair was collected and sewn into a hair net. It was far more economical than purchasing a rat and of course was a guaranteed color match as it was the woman’s own hair. Hair nets were fine spun cotton or silk and matched the woman’s hair color as well. Think more of the “lunch lady” hair net than the bright colored “snood” of the 1930s.

Checkered back W

W. Rowe, Photographer, 82 High Street, Leicester

Where did she go?

Where did she go??

Where did she go??

Today we have a sad story. This beautiful CDV sized card surrounds a gem tintype that has been worn over the years until the facial features have been completely obliterated. I can tell this was a woman. There is the typical center part to her hair and it was oiled down smoothly to her head. I can also see a white collar and large neckerchief bow. These two fashion aspects put the date in the early 1860s, and this could even have been a reprint of an older daguerrotype. Other than those two visible clues, she is well and truly lost.

This little disaster tells us two things. One is that old photographs are very delicate. Tintypes were printed onto metal plates with an emulsion and varnish covering them. They are highly susceptible to scratching and wear. Photographs printed on paper and mounted on a card are equally fragile and can be ripped, scratched, written on, burned, and also fade with exposure to sunlight. These antique images can be damaged irreparably and when they were the only photo of the person made, it is a shame to have lost the record of their appearance. We take this so much for granted today. I can’t imagine someone passing from this life without a photographic record of them being left behind. We have ID photos for driving, working, education, etc., plus in much of the world, cameras are not such a luxury any more, and many people have one in their pocket at all times on modern smart phones. The second thing this destroyed image tells us is a story of perhaps someone rubbing away the image with a finger, over time, whether the tintype was a touchstone to the past, or they were trying to remove the memory of something painful, we can never know.

The paper folder that the gem has been mounted in is interesting. It is light blue in color with gold printing that features a ship and nautical stars under a rising sun, stars in the corners, two vases on pediments, holding star shaped flowers, and ivy with star shaped leaves at the top corners. The entire border is a type of Greek key design. There was no photographer’s information on the back. There is surely some analogy and metaphor in the images featured on the card, but I do not know what they were meant to represent.

I am submitting this as a Sepia Saturday post! Please click through and discover a world of amazing sepia images from around the world!

Onward through the blogosphere

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