A late addition


A much later date

This particular gem tintype was added to the Red Gem album after all the pages were filled – making me wonder about the duplicate images and why the owner didn’t remove one of those. The image was also obviously cut to the general shape of an oval, so perhaps it was going to be used in some other way and as an afterthought was added to the album. The tape has damaged the finish on the edges but fortunately the beautiful face is intact. The clothing looks to be from the 1880s and is lovely. Notice the asymmetrical details – buttons on one side, ribbon on the other. She appears to be leaning on something that looks like it could be the back of a chair, but it’s much too narrow. So, I am going to conclude it was some sort of prop used for these types of poses.

Well, that concludes our look at the Red Gem album and nary a name to be found. I have two more gem albums, a bunch of interesting CDVs and tin types, and of course many more cabinet cards to share with you. See you again soon!


1870s gems

Gems 24

Sisters? Friends?

This page of our Red Gem album shows two ladies on the younger side of life. Their hair styles are definitely early 1870s.

Beads & Embroidery

Beads & Embroidery

Here the hair has been gathered in the back, has sausage curled ringlets on one side, and a fluff on the top. The combination of elements is interesting, plus she has something I can’t quite identify that looks like a round bun, but I’m not certain. Notice also that she has a bead necklace on top of her collar, and the collar itself has been embroidered with a small motif. She also has something – possibly a decorative button or small pin – right at the top of her collar. Her dress has vertical stripes.

Pretty plaid

Pretty plaid

While at first glance, this tiny image doesn’t scream “fashionista,” at closer inspection there are some details that bear examination. She has drop earrings in a teardrop style, and a fine white band collar, but most interesting is that on top of her plaid bodice, there are motifs of trim in a circular pattern. Look at her shoulder and the cuffs of her sleeves. These braid loops could have been found preset in their shape, or arranged by the seamstress in the desired pattern. The detail is not of high enough resolution for me to tell any further how they were applied.

Slouch hat

Gems 23

Two very different hats

Today we have two very different hats – a man’s slouch and a woman’s pill box. Let’s take a closer look.

A crooked little man

A crooked man

I’m reminded of a bit of whimsy, the nursery rhyme dated back the King Charles I of England (1600-1649), but only because this dude’s picture is crooked in the book.

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.

He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.

He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

I played around with the photo a bit, just to see what I could do, and the result is a much straighter image.

Sit up, man!

Sit up, man!

It is much easier to appreciate the image now that it is straightened! I love his slouch hat, cocked a bit in the brim. I like to imagine the brim became creased there due to his constantly tipping his hat to the ladies. The lovely, full mustache is so “manly man” it makes me wonder if he was considered to be dashing by the ladies of his time. He’s got a nice strong jawline too, deep eyes, straight nose….ah, sigh….  :-) The coat over the patterned vest, the bow tie and velvet lapels, all make me think this man was the catch of the town.

Was this his lady?

Was this his lady?

This fine Miss has quite a fashionable hat. It appears to be velvet, although from what we now know of wet plate photography, it is unlikely it was black!

Uncredited but not mine

Uncredited but not mine

A Facebook acquaintance had this on their page, and while I asked for credit information I didn’t get it. So, I can’t tell you where it came from, but I would if I could. SO HELPFUL! You can see that black, brown,red, yellow and green all photograph as nearly black, whereas blue, purple and pink photograph as nearly white. I’m no photographer, so I can’t explain the reasons why this happened, but it does reveal to us that the hat may have been yellow and the dress blue!

There are only a couple more pages in this book, and then I have some fun CDVs to show you. Stick around for more!


Gems 22

Curls and frizz

One lady looking superior, one young woman looking disgruntled. Such is life when arranging your hair for the photographer.

Smooth, oiled curls

Smooth, oiled curls

In order to show off her perfect sausage curls, this lady has her head tilted in a 3/4 profile. Unfortunately, this gives us the “side glance” from her, and she looks a bit snooty, doesn’t she? Her clothing looks nice, well kept and fine, so perhaps she had reason to be smug.

Gems 22 - Frizz

Frizzed out

By contrast, this soft faced girl has her hair brushed out in back, with soft, frizzy curls on top, as well. She is the antithesis of her page-neighbor. She wears what looks to be a knitted shawl over her dress, and there is also a long chain of round links, first around her neck and then draped across her bodice. That was probably a style her friends were also wearing at the time.

Same Hat, Different Head

Gems 21

Look closely at the hat

As site visitor Auntie Kat pointed out on my previous post – Toothsome – she could see herself wearing the hat pictured….apparently, these two women saw the same potential in this hat!

Do you like my hat?

Do you like my hat?

If you look at this photo, and then look back at the previous photo, you will see these two women are wearing the same hat. They must have attended the photographer’s studio on the same day. Perhaps they were wandering through a marketplace and decided with giggles and shining eyes to have their portraits made. We shall never know, but owing to this young lady wearing her muffler on top of her outerwear, I can only imagine it was winter.

Buttoned down

Buttoned down

Completely unrelated is this pretty face with strong but feminine features, glossy hair, and shapely eyebrows. Her collar is high and straight, leading me to the 1870s for the time frame. I like her straight line of buttons that stand out in contrast to the color of her dress. Her hair style draws from the 1860s, but her clothing is firmly in the following decade.


Gems 20

A toothsome twosome

Back in the day, the word “toothsome” was used similarly to the word “attractive.” According to the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary, it means agreeable, attractive, sexually attractive, or tasty as relates to food. Apparently, the word originated as describing something pleasing to taste, much like “sweet tooth,” in the 1400s. It was quickly extended to the language of attraction and the original meaning has become almost an afterthought.

Missing teeth?

Missing teeth?

The word toothsome came to me as I looked at this lady featured on the left hand side of the page. I am wondering if she had any teeth. These days it is pretty rare to see someone missing teeth, and frequently the absence of teeth is associated with bad habits, such as drug abuse, or poor living, such as malnutrition. It wasn’t until the 1970s that dentists began to link flossing and gum disease, so before our contemporary times, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to lose a tooth or have one pulled. When the front teeth are missing, there isn’t anything to support the lip, and so it collapses against the gums. Either that, or she possibly had a terribly pronounced underbite. There was no such thing as braces or corrective dentistry, only pulling teeth. Not everyone even brushed their teeth regularly, even though tooth brushes and cleaning powders were available. Aside from her possible oral issues, she otherwise looks clean, healthy and nicely groomed.

Straw Hat

Straw Hat

Conversely, this young lady looks lovely, without any visible flaws to her face or mien. She has a prim straw hat perched atop her head, her hair is drawn back, and she is possibly wearing earrings (it could also be a scratch or artifact on the image in the exact location of an earring). Her face is soft and her eyes deep, atop a wide mouth. Her look reminds me of none other than Al Capone, the infamous gangster of the 1930s. She could possibly be Italian, but I’m only making that guess because she reminds me of Capone. The cheeks of her tintype were tinted.

Hair pulled back

Gems 19

Two Post-War women

Sorry for my absence, I hadn’t realized it had been so long since I posted last! Yikes, it is funny how time gets away from us so quickly.

Today, let’s look at these two young women. I have heard recently that the early photographic techniques tended to add age to the faces of the subjects due to limitations in what the camera lens could see clearly. I don’t know which is better, adding age or 10 pounds! Anyway, these two ladies appear to be in their early twenties, although the one on the left *looks* like she could be older. Likely she isn’t.



The dress shows features of the 1860s, but the hair looks 1870s. This is likely a later 60s image. When you enlarge the photo, you can see the fringe across her bodice in a shallow V. Also visible is the collar detail. The bodice has a folded collar of a darker color, with a narrow white stand collar inside. This is indicative of post-war fashions, as during the war, the bodice was made with a jewel neckline (simple rounded edge) and a white folded collar was basted directly onto the dress. Here the folded collar remains, but the basted white collar is a small band. Both types of removable collars served to protect the garment from the oils and dirt of the skin, and could be removed for washing. The dress itself was likely spot-cleaned when needed and air dried for freshening. The hairstyle here is parted in the center, but the side fronts are boosted toward the top of the head rather than lower toward the ears, as was popular in the 1850s to early 1860s.



This young lady shows her youth in her soft face, but she is still a fashionable young woman. Her hairstyle is simple – center part and pulled back into some type of arrangement, but also featuring a band of some type, possibly a ribbon. She doesn’t have her hair in a ponytail as we might expect to see on someone her age today. The rounded edge of her chignon is too smooth. However, she does have a ribbon tied on the back, which shows her connection to youth. Her ears are pierced and she is wearing moderate size dangle earrings. Her dress also has a standing small band collar, and she has a small bar pin at the throat. The darker trim of her dress reminds me of a string bow tie, but it appears to be part of the fabric of the bodice. I’d put this one in the early 1870s.

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