Mysterious look

This fellow has what I consider to be a “mysterious” look. The wave in his hair, the dark eyebrows, the large nose, these combined with the quality of the photograph make me think of the “tall dark and handsome” of early movie lore. I have a good feeling – although no actual proof – that this is a photo processed with the more modern collodion process. The paper and chemicals were not as susceptible to yellowing as were older images. The process also resulted in deep, rich tones that could sometimes be bluish or purple-ish. This photograph has a lilac tint to it, which is what clued me in.

The photographer was H. H. Coles, who’s work we have previously seen in the Dobb Long Book. This card has an embossed (raised) logo, and also tells us that Coles was operating in Pekin and Delavin, IL at the time the image was made. Coles was in Pekin, IL between 1879-1900. Because of my collodion theory, I am dating this after 1894 but before 1900.


Our first couple

The Dobb Long Book allows for two photos on the left hand page and two on the right hand page. These photos are the top left and top right of the first open page. Since they are next to each other and by the same photographer, I am making the assumption that they are a couple. I will date the photos to 1880.

The photographer was H. H. Cole, who had studios in both Pekin and Delavan, IL. Click here to see a confirmed photo of the photographer. Readers, is it just me, or does our photo of the gentleman above look remarkably like the photo of H. H. Cole?

The Tazewell County Historical Society has several of Cole’s photographs in their collection. Cole established his business in Pekin in 1879 and was there at least until 1900. Cole had previously been a daguerreian photographer in Peoria, IL having purchased a business there from John J. Harper in 1857.

UPDATE: I have heard back from Mike, the site administrator at the Tazewell County Historical Society and he does not believe we have a photo of H. H. Cole. He did tell me that H. H. Cole once photographed Abraham Lincoln, when Lincoln was running for Illinois State Senate against Stephen Douglas (he lost), and later was a delegate to the convention that nominated Lincoln as the Republican candidate for President. Apparently Cole had to come home without his hat as he had thrown his silk top hat into the air to celebrate Lincoln getting the nomination and the hat was never returned. Thanks Mike for all the interesting information about H. H. Cole!

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