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

Short hair

Short Hair W

A short styled haircut on a round faced lady

A rather fashion forward choice for this young lady, the short hair was not common for most women as it is today. There could be several reasons why she cut her hair. Hair was cut when one suffered a high fever, in the hopes that removing the hair would help the patient cool off. It could have been damaged in a fire; hair is extremely flammable and open flames were common during the 19th century. She could have suffered from a bad case of lice, and the hair shaved and the scalp treated with kerosene. She could have sold her hair to raise funds, a la The Gift of the Magi. Human hair was used in the hair pieces so popular with upper middle class and upper class women to augment a woman’s own hair. The various fashions – from pompadour to ringlet curls – put a lot of strain on the hair and sometimes, women just didn’t have a lot of it. In some cases, short hair could have been seen as shameful, but some young women and teenaged girls cut their hair short for fashion alone.

Short Hair back

Constantine Jennings, Photographic Artist

The high neck and puffed sleeves put this photo in the 1880s.  The CDV was made by Constantine Jennings, Photographic Artist at 38 Bridge Street in Chester, England.

 

 

Lady with a book

Lady with book W

Shall I read you a story?

Lady with book back

London Stereographic & Photographic Company

This is a really lovely 1860s image, showing a lady with a very full skirt and the drop-shouldered bodice so popular during that decade. She is seated, holding a book in her left hand and nothing in the right – although it looks like she is pointing. I think she was just holding her hand funny. She has bracelets on each wrist and a long necklace that appears to match them. She also has some type of chain necklace with something – perhaps a clock – hanging about mid bodice.

Also of note are the lovely pleats at her waistline, and also the pointed yoke of the skirt. I haven’t seen anything like that in my travels through antique photographs. The pleats are lovely as they are doubled on top of each other with wide spacing in between the sets. This spacing likely gave her skirt a nice smooth appearance. Her bodice appears to have been gathered onto the skirt yoke and has large rosettes on it. It is rather unusual.

Finally, you will see that she is wearing a beaded hair net on the very back of her head. Her hair is styled in the typical fashion, glossy from oil or pomade, and then covered once styled.

The photograph was made by the London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company in Cheapside, England.

Uncle Charles

Top Hat W

Top Hat back

 

Up for your perusal today is Uncle Charles from Liverpool. I like his shiny top hat and well buffed shoes. They look to be a low boot with elastic insets to allow it over the foot. Elastic was invented in the 1820s by Thomas Hancock and his collaboration with Charles Macintosh led to the production of rubberized overcoats, among other things. Hancock finally patented his rubber processing machine in 1837 and became the leading producer of rubber goods in the world. Elastic was used in boots and shoes extensively, both in men’s and women’s fashions.

The photographer Uncle Charles used was Harry Emmens of 30 Church Street and 108 Seel Street, Liverpool. By the studio appointments, I’m guessing this CDV was made in the 1880s or 1890s. Stay tuned for more photos from this family. Someone at some point identified a few of them, but I haven’t had a chance to try to track anyone down yet…if I can at all.

This is a Sepia Saturday submission! Click through and explore as they did in times past, up the lazy river, around the bend and across the great oceans.

Take a tour of the world

Fred Taylor

Fred Taylor W

Fred Taylor leans on a chair

This CDV shows a man with fine whiskers, a fine coat and bow tie, clean if rumpled suit of clothes, and brogan style shoes, leaning his hand upon the back of a chair. I originally thought this photo was interesting but it didn’t really catch my eye. However, I took note of the weight of the pink paper it is mounted upon. This paper is slightly thicker than gift tissue paper, slightly finer than printer paper. It is quite delicate and I have not seen its like before now. What also caught my eye as I scanned the photo is that the lower edge of the photo was lifting slightly.

What mystery did it reveal, you ask? Take a look for yourself.

The man, revealed

The man, revealed

There in the corner on the back of the photo itself, is the name. Fred Taylor. I can’t tell you more than that, for as you can probably see the photo lacks a backmark or any photographer’s information. It came in the batch from England, but beyond that…. Fred remains a mystery.

 

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