A photo of a painting

Portrait W

A portrait from the 1830s or so

When photography became popular, it was not only seen as a way to capture living images of people, but also as a means to share older images. This CDV is an example of a photograph of a portrait or miniature that was painted in an earlier decade. I’m not very good with men’s clothing, so please chime in if you know better, but I’m guessing this portrait was made in the 1830s. Perhaps this was a beloved patriarch of a family. This could also be a memorial card given to friends and distant relatives when the subject passed away – in the 1860s.

The photograph was made by W. G. Helsby Jr in Denbigh and Ruthin. These towns are near coastal Wales, a bit southwest of Liverpool, England. The two towns were connected by a railway which was established in 1860 and used for approximately 100 years, closing in the 1960s.

Portrait back W

Helsby’s Studios backmark

Note that part of the backmark indicates “other portraits copied as miniatures or enlarged to life size or delicately finished in oil or water color.”  This image is clearly a copy of a portrait.

 

In remembrance

Isa W

Striped bow tie

 

Isa back W

A memorial card?

From Gloucester, England we have a portrait of an older gentleman photographed by S. S. Soley. Someone inscribed on the back “In Remembrance of 17th Oct 70.” The date could possibly be 12th or something else, there seems to be an extra scratch of ink and it looks like a 4 upside down or an H. Regardless, this image can be fairly well dated to 1870, which was possibly the date of death of the man pictured on the front.

 

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.

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