Susan McSparrow

Susan McSparrow – Warren?

This is a gorgeous 1890s era cabinet card of Susan McSparrow, found in Tennessee last year. In the middle of the back is the name Warren written in pencil. At first I thought it might have been her married name, but I really don’t know. It could be the name of someone the card was given to, or the name of a town where she lived. Susan looks to be in her 30s to 40s in this image, and while her dress does not display the typical 1890s traits of balloon sleeves and high neck, the edges of the cabinet card are in a deckle style that was not available before the 1890s. Susan may have been a simple, conservative woman who really liked and felt good in this dress. It is also possible this is a reprint of an older photograph made for some reason – marriage or death are two possibilities.

With good reason, this is a beautiful example of understated embellishment. The front closure of the bodice is hidden in the pleats, and there are two rows of soutache running alongside that. You can see some gapping of the pleats on the lower front, suggesting that the bodice has an inner layer where it was fastened using hooks & eyes. This is not uncommon to find on vintage dresses. Note the fine lace at the upper edge of her collar. While lace today is scratchy and would probably be uncomfortable to have so close to the neck, lace at this time was made with natural fibers or rayon, so would likely have been much more soft to the touch. She also has a bar pin at the neck closure that is possibly attached to the second piece that is at her breast bone. That piece looks like it may be a watch – you can see that the chain emerges from inside the dress. Her coif is spectacular and beautiful, but again, understated elegance.

This is such a beautiful image, I am delighted to share it with you today. The photographer, C. C. Shadle, was a well respected photographer in Kittaning, PA. Born October 17, 1845 in Clarion, PA to Issac and Mary Shadle, Christopher C Shadle first was an engineer before taking up his father’s business of photography. He was in Apollo – operating in an old schoolhouse, then Tarentum, and finally settled in Kittaning in 1869. He was in business in 1865, at which time tax records show he paid the Federal Luxury tax on photographs that was established to help defray the costs of the Civil War. He paid at that time $5.80. Each photo was taxed at 10%, and there is some equation that can tell us how many photos he collected the tax on, but I get confused on how much to multiply – it was either 58 or 580. This is important because it can suggest how prolific he was. This tax was paid in October 1865. If he was paying that much per month, then we can extrapolate how much he paid in tax, and then how many photos he took per year, etc etc. (click here for more info on the tax) He was noted to have a very well appointed and conveniently located gallery in town, and also employed apprentice photographers learning their trade. Shadle also owned a farm outside of town in addition to the studio in town. He thrived in the photography business until his unexpected death in 1904 at the age of 59, which was recorded not only in the newspaper but also the U. S. Presbyterian Records. He had been a trustee in the First Presbyterian Church. The gallery was sold to John Leister at that time. Shadle was married to Jane and they had 4 children.

Other McSparrow Photographs

Bruce D McSparrow

Mrs. S. M. McSparrow

Further Reading About C. C. Shadle

Excerpt from Biographical And Historical Cyclopedia Of Indiana And Armstrong Counties, Pennsylvania, 1891 via pa-roots.org

Biography of William S Otto, employed by C. C. Shadle, via pa.roots.org

History of Apollo, via Google Books

Biography of John Ralph Leister, via pa-roots.org

Listing of obituaries from the National Underwriter, vol 8, September 1, 1904, via Google Books

4 Women

Sarah, Agnes, Maud & Pearl

Today’s photo is a lovely cabinet card found in the Great Tennessee Vacation Haul, and shows four young women. The back of the card identifies them as Sarah, Agnes, Maud and Pearl.  Sarah and Pearl are on the ends, with Agnes & Maud in the middle. I have no knowledge of their relationship. Could they be sisters, cousins, or simply great friends?

The clothing suggest the 1880s trending to the 1890s. Sleeves are puffed but not ballooned. Because they are seated it’s not really possible to guess if these are A-line or bustled skirts.

The photographer was J. E. Kester in Brockwayville, PA, which is located midstate. It was settled in 1822 and named for the Brockway family which first settled in the area. By 1925, the name Brockwayville had been shortened to Brockway. Brockway has always been a small town, with only 1.2 square miles, and in the 1880 census there were 360 people living there. Current population from the 2010 census is 2072.

I found many other photographs online by J. E. Kester, all seeming to be from the 1890s, as well as a Commemorative Biography indicating that Blanche (Luther) Kester, wife of J. E., was living in Brockwayville in 1898.

Side eye

tn-vintage-pix-6

I just love this little image! The square-ish card mount is approximately 2.5″x2.5″, and the photo is mounted to the back, with a thin paper covering the back of the photo. The woman at first glance just looks the “usual” stern of antique photos. However, when you look closely, she must have glanced over at the photographer because her eyes are not tracking off the the right, but looking back at the viewer, and it makes it look like she is giving the side eye. Too funny!

Beyond that, take note of the lovely small tucks across her bodice. This work was sometimes done by hand, but there were also fabrics made with tucks in them. If it was done by hand, it’s beautiful but tedious to accomplish. The tucks – if sewn by hand – would be small and precise, with tiny stitches that could barely be seen. Hand sewing is truly becoming a lost art, because it takes much practice and sometimes better materials than we have readily available to us today. The dropped puffed sleeves of this garment suggest late 1890s or early 1900s, but without more of the dress I can’t make a better guess.

Her crowning glory of a hat has bows, flowers and feathers I believe, and looks like an amazing millinery confection. I wonder how on trend this type of hat was, or if it was just that old thing?

Bruce D McSparrow

tn-vintage-pix-7 tn-vintage-pix-4

One of these lads is Bruce D. McSparrow. Due to some home construction, I have packed these photographs away and I’m not sure which one of these had the writing on the back! Whoops. I also had it carefully labeled on the original file, but my computer is also packed away. Fooey.

Bruce was 7 years old at the time of the photo, September 3, 1897. These two photographs are small, only about 3″ x 4″ with the image centered in the card.

tn-vintage-pix-12

They were accompanied by their mother, previously shown in this post. As it turns out, this is identified on the back as Mrs. S. M. McSparrow.

The Faded Girl

Faded girl W

Where are you, sweet child?

Faded girl back W

Decorative backmark for May & Co.

This later 19th century photograph, a CDV, once showed a pretty child, posed upon a chair, with round baby face youth looking out at her parents. Today, we know she was there, but over time the image has faded to a grainy suggestion of its former glory. I don’t know enough about vintage photographic processes to even suggest what has caused the photo to fade so badly. Perhaps it was exposed to direct sunlight, or perhaps it wasn’t developed properly in the first place.

The photographer was May & Co, of Station Road, Northwich, England. Northwich is in the county of Cheshire, northwest of London. I found a reference in an 1892 directory for Northwich, to a George Austin May & Co, photographer in Station Road.

 

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

Artistic photograph shows long hair

Lush locks

Lush locks

Turning to a new source of photographs, I am delighted with this artistic image of a lovely young woman. She shows her unbound hair and is draped with a white robe. It’s rather suggestive for the times, don’t you think? It brings to mind a woman as she readies herself for sleep, brushing out her hair while in her dressing gown. To the proper Victorians, this might have been quite intimate. Her pose in profile, looking skyward is prescient of the glamorous movie shots of the 1930s. All we lack is back lighting and Max Factor.

Lush locks back

Window & Grove Photographers, London

As you can see on the back of the mount, this was made by Window & Grove, photographers to the Royal Family at 63A Baker Street, Portman Square, London W. The address is reminiscent of another Baker Street house. Do you know which one?

My knowledge of photographers in Britain is limited on the best of days, and my knowledge of the geography of Britain is fairly limited as well. I can find London on a map and I’m aware that Scotland, Wales and Ireland are all parts of the greater British Isles. I could not tell you if this was a tony address as I could of a New York city direction, however, so if anyone is so inclined to enlighten us all, please do in the comments.

I am putting this up as a return to Sepia Saturday, the blog party that takes you to vintage photo websites from around the world! Sepia Saturday doesn’t require following a theme although a thematic prompt is provided every week. I discovered in the past that I focused so much on meeting the theme that I lost the fun in the old photos. And, after a refocus of this site on 19th century photos, a return to Sepia Saturday seems in order as well. So, press the button, my friend! Send me back in time…

Trot on over!

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: