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?

Stern face, pretty lace

tn-vintage-pix-8

This fine Edwardian era photograph features a middle aged woman with a stern face. Her hair is twisted up on top of her head in a style popular in the early 20th century. Her high-necked dress has an embellishment of lace across the bodice and on the collar. Finally, there are six buttons front and center, which are probably non-functioning, meaning her bodice fastens in a different way. It is likely the dress has hooks & eyes, or less attractive workhorse buttons hidden by a placket.

The image is oval shaped in the center of the gray card. The card itself is about 3″ x 2″. I have two other photos that came with this one, and all were found in Tennessee.

UPDATE I forgot that this had been identified on the back as Mrs. S. M. McSparrow.

Fancy Hat

SD CDVs 8

Up for your perusal today is a lovely young couple from Devon who sat for their photograph in the late 1860s or even early 1870s. I think. I’m basing my assessment on the woman’s clothing as usual, and her dress seems to show a skirt that is elliptical, possibly trending toward the early bustle period, but not quite there. We do know that as skirts got bigger, hats got smaller and taller, to try to counterbalance the eye being drawn to the skirt. This skirt is fairly plain, but the bodice has some lovely trims and of course the hat is quite delicious. This young wife also has earrings, a large bow at her throat and a pin holding that in place. I wish we could know what colors her dress was!

I assume it is her husband seated, as this is a somewhat personal pose, with her hands on his shoulders. He is wearing some type of uniform, I think. The cap looks a bit like a conductor’s cap, so perhaps he worked on the trains. He’s also got a vest and a necktie to complete his costume.

The photographer was J. Grey at 60 Union Street, Stonehouse, Devon.

Gilded framing

SD CDVs 13

Today’s CDV for review is a fine image from America taken during the Civil War era. Although the card bears no backmark, so we can’t identify the photographer, it does have the remnants of stamp adhesive. During the Civil War, Congress passed a revenue tax on luxury goods. Beginning in 1862, items such as playing cards and telegrams were assessed a tax that was used to help fund the war. In 1864, photographs were added to the list of items considered luxury goods, and therefore taxed. Customers were charged the fee for their photographs, plus the additional revenue tax. The tax was repealed in 1866, but many photographic cards bore these stamps, which were applied and cancelled by the photographer. They became popular with collectors, and so we now have many photographic cards that show the evidence of a stamp once having been there, but that was removed at some point.

The color and denomination of the stamp would have indicated the value of the purchase. The tax went from 1 cent all the way to 1 dollar – which at that time was quite a lot of money. Most photographs carried a 1 or 2 cent tax stamp. For more reading the tax stamps, see the links below this post.

The type of gilded framing of the image is also a clue that this is a Civil War era image. This ornate decoration as well as embossed decorations were popular styles of framing the images. There was a trend in the early years of CDV photography to center the image with almost no background, which to our modern eyes looks a bit like a head floating in space. I would imagine that the addition of framing helped to emphasize the image, and also allowed the owner to place it into a simple frame.

This subject’s adornment is also interesting. You can see she has a small white collar above her neckline. It is not a “peter pan” style collar as was very popular, but it is a simple band. The collar was detachable and protected the garment from the dirt and oils on a person’s skin. When it became soiled, it was removed and laundered, then basted back into place. The fabrics used for dresses were the types that could not be easily laundered – wool, silks, and blends of these fibers with cotton or linen, for example. So, collars and cuffs were made to be removable and laundered, while dresses were spot cleaned as needed. The bow tie she is wearing is probably pinned into place, rather than tied around her neck.

You can also see that she has some type of hair covering, such as a decorated net. The hair is glossy, as was fashionable at that time. It was drawn back over the ears and dressed in some fashion, then covered with a net to keep stray wisps from looking untidy. The net is not a “snood” – a word coined in the 1930s. The net was made of fine threads that covered the hair and were of the same color as the hair for the most part. The net could be decorated with a band of ribbon, making it look like a headband.

All in all, this is a fine image from the American Civil War era, and I’m very pleased to share it with you today!

Additional Reading

Tax stamps during the Civil War – via Old Photographic

Revenue stamps – via Wikipedia

Dating Old Photographs with Tax Stamps – via Genealogy Bank

Uncle Taylor

Uncle Taylor W

A droopy beard and whiskers

Uncle Taylor back W

Uncle Taylor

Do you think that Uncle Taylor was from Sheffield, or his last name was Sheffield? He bears a strong resemblance to Tomkins/Tom King, and I wonder if they were related somehow.

Uncle Taylor wore a nice three piece suit for his photograph and a bow tie. I notice that although his beard is quite full, his forehead is quite large. Is there some compulsion by men losing their hair to grow out their beard?

The photograph was made by Edward Atkinson at 8 Norfolk Row, Sheffield, England.

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

Big Buttons

Large buttons, big bow, frilly lace

Large buttons, big bow, frilly lace

I would really love to see the rest of this dress, because it has so many features just in this tiny portrait. We have large decorative buttons that appear to be velvet covered, a large bow at the center of the neckline, and frilly lace standing up under the young lady’s chin. I like to imagine she worked hard on making this dress and that it is a bustle dress with lovely draping on the skirt that mirrors the velvet trimming on the bodice. This is the last in the Saurman & Lovejoy set, but does not carry a backmark. She is unnamed and unknown.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: