Rest in eternal slumber

Funeral Card of Mrs Nina Dobb

For a Sepia Saturday prompt, Alan gave us a photo of a man sleeping in a chair. Of course, that took my mind to the eternal slumber of death. Yes, morbid, but having had such a rousing discussion about the possible memento mori photo last week (survey said ‘no’ btw), I suppose it was on my mind. I wanted to stay with this theme, as I am positive I have no photos of people in actual slumber, and death was such a fascination to our Victorian ancestors after all.

This cabinet card is one I have posted before, when I introduced the Dobb Long Book earlier this year. I have a couple other memorial or death cards, but neither of them have the added benefit of the photograph. Based on the text on this particular card, we can surmise that Mrs. Nina Dobb died on June 27, 1898 and that this card was made a year later in 1899. Cabinet cards were still in use at that time, which is the cusp of the new century and new photographic processes and styles. Some time in the early 20th century, cabinet cards gave way to smaller cards, embossed cards, and the “sandwich” cards that look like the fancy mattes you find in modern framers galleries.

In some ways, this is also a memento mori, in that it is a memento of the death of a loved one. Thankfully it is not a photo of the loved one in death, which are most commonly associated with the term memento mori. In my research I learned that memento mori translates as “remember you must die,” and the objects associated with mourning have taken on the appellation as a category. These objects can range from hair jewelry to photographs and photographic jewelry. The Victorian relationship with death was much different than our modern one, because death was simply another part of life. They did not have the medical technology or understanding we have today, nor did they have the vaccines and antibiotics that help us prolong life. A death from the flu was not surprising and the Victorians in general took it as something out of their control of life. The greater reliance on faith and religion also may have helped them through the numerous instances of death that must have touched their lives.

Even today we have memento mori, except they are called memorial keepsakes, and often come in the form of a charm or pendant with the deceased’s name, and frequently are found as bumper stickers or tee shirts stating “in loving memory of…” and including the photo of the departed and their dates of birth and death. Tell us, are the tee shirts and stickers an American phenomenon or do they pop up in other countries?

Please click through to Sepia Saturday to see how others were inspired by the prompt of a sleeping man. You never really know what you’re going to get after all!


The end

Well folks, here we have the last photograph in the Dobb Long Book, and miracle of miracles, it has a name written on it! Unfortunately, it is a strange name that I haven’t been able to trace, ugh. Of note, the name is written in ball point pen, not fountain ink, so someone relatively recently knew who this woman was. It appears to be De Vee or De Vu Mourer Downes/Dornan/Dorner.

The photographer was Stoops in Perry, IA.

UPDATED: Iggy figured out her name is Devee Mourer Dorman. Check the comments for more information. You are the man Iggy!

Here at the end of the Dobb Long Book, after 57 cabinet cards, we don’t really know much more than we did at the beginning.

The names mentioned in the book are Nina Dobb, who has remained elusive; Miss Farmar/Farmer, who without a first name is impossible to trace; De Vee or De Vu Mourer Downes/Dornan/Dorner, the last photo in the book. The amazing Intense Guy (aka Iggy) has found several suggestions on who these people might be, but more often than not we have had more luck researching photographers. It has been an interesting journey across fashion, time and one ocean, but it appears these photographs will remain lost to history, and I will have to enjoy them for the hints of the story they could tell. The Dobb Long Book will be used at events focusing on the 1890s as a means to educate about what people wore in the later Victorian era. Thanks for all your interest in these photos.

Full portrait

Today we see a full portrait of a woman in a lovely 1890s gown. The sleeves are a bit poufed at the shoulders, the waist is small and the skirt flares over the hips to fall in an inverted U shape. She has some fancy jewelry at her throat and quite lovely ruffles on the bottom of her skirt. The chair leaves something to be desired, but it’s a prop after all.

Her photographer was Tomlinson Bros in Hannibal, MO. Of course, I can’t think of Hannibal without thinking of Tom Sawyer.


Once upon a time in Des Moines, IA, this lovely lady went to the L. H. Freeborn & Son studio to have her portrait made. They had her stand with a chair covered with some feathers or foliage of some kind. She looks like she’s a bit uncertain of the whole process. Her dress, however, is quite fashionable. It surely has a bustle which you can’t see here, and it features the appearance of a vest or second layer under the bodice, although it would have been one garment. In my mind, this is a soft rose pink with green velvet trimmings. Quite fashionable!

Only two photos remain in the Dobb Long Book. One of these days I will get around to dedicating an entire page to the album, but in the meantime if you want to look at the full book, click on the category “Dobb Long Book” over there to the right.

This is a proud Sepia Saturday post.  Please click through to view interesting and inspiring sepia images from around the world.

Gorgeous trim

Here we have a photo of a serene woman in the side profile. She has tiny earrings and a bar pin at the base of her collar. Her hair was dressed into a chignon and there is some sort of comb on top. Mostly though, she has beautiful trim on her dress. I see this dress in a soft brown with black trim and buttons. The trim is very uniform; it could be machine made, or it could be painstakingly applied with incredible attention to detail. Regardless, it is a lovely Celtic type of pattern that weaves around itself.

The photographer was Clench or Oench, in Iowa City, IA. That’s a tricky one, there are lots of sports teams that were in a clench over one thing or another in Iowa.


This hair style says “swoop” to me. Perhaps this fellow is sitting for his college graduation, maybe as a doctor or a lawyer? He is nattily dressed, with trim on his jacket lapels and vest, crisp collar points and a neatly tied cravat.

The photographer was Leon & Co in Nashville, IL. Funny, you never really hear about this Nashville, always the “other” one.

Precarious perch

I think the boy on the right is not happy with the wobbly and precarious seat given to his sibling. He is clearly holding onto the child behind her (?) back to keep her from falling. I think the seated baby is a girl because of the rather large necklace she is wearing. You can see her bloomers peeping out from under her skirt too, which is insanely cute. The boy’s dress is a hybrid between skirts and short pants. He might have going through the potty training stages, which merited short pants, but still had accidents which merited a skirt.

I can’t read the name of the photographer. Any guesses?

UPDATE: Iggy found a photographer named Jacob Esterline located in Scranton, PA between about 1870-1915. This card is a dark maroon, which gives us the dates of 1885-1895 for this photo.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: