Four men and a tintype


This fine image is a tintype I found in the great Tennessee vacation haul at the World’s Longest Yard Sale. There was another woman and I who seemed to be on the same route, each of us rushing to find the photos at each individual stall. I felt lucky to find this great piece, because look at all the character here!

We have a stringy beard and hard, hard gaze on our seated fellow; a bowler hat hiding at the side of the young gent to the left; a droopy mustache on the standing fellow to the right; and oh, so much angst in the face of the kneeling dude.

These characters make me wonder and imagine what they were up to…was it no good? Did they go on to rob a bank or help the poor? They sure look like a group of vintage bad boys to me! It is impossible to know, but these great old pictures make us consider just who they were, don’t they?


Bidding you, adieu

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A tip of the hat

For the final page of the wonderful Haberdasher’s album, we see the gentleman who first welcomed us to this fine repository of masculine imagery. He tips his hat as thought to say “farewell, dear traveler.” The other men on the page are once again overshadowed by the depth of character displayed by this fellow, but they cannot be overlooked. A solemn man, an intimidated youth and a slouching teen all bring this fine album to a close.

But, don’t you fear! I have been collecting some wonderful images and vintage calendars for an upcoming Girl Scout event and plan to share them here with you soon!

Click each image below to enlarge for greater detail.

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Top Hats

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Fabulous top hats!

As we arrive closer to the end of this wonderful little album of gem tintypes, we find two spectacular examples of gentlemen’s top hats. The top left image has the distinct sheen of silk on that hat. It is glossy and impressive. Note the fine tinting of his cheeks to give a more “lifelike” appearance to the image. The lower right image also sports a sheen, but more muted, making me wonder what this hat might have been made of. I know very little about hats, so hopefully some helpful visitor will comment to educate us!

We cannot ignore the delightful derby hat in the upper right, nor the wizened whiskers in the lower left. Each man has his version of fashionable facial hair as well. Click on each miniature below to enlarge for detailed viewing.

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Hats and bowties

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Back to some fine hats and large bowties

A youngish fellow, a boater, a bowler and a repeat grace this page with delightful details! Note the wonderfully large bowties on the top two gentlemen. They are almost absurd in their size. The ties must be a good 2″ wide to achieve such a dominating bow. While I’m not well versed in the history of neck ties, I do recall seeing these wide bowties on men from the 1840s and ’50s. They obviously made a comeback in the 1870s. The lower left fellow has a skinny bowtie that is almost an after thought when compared with the larger ones. His high crowned bowler compliments his round face nicely. Finally, our repeat image is the doppleganger mentioned a few posts back.

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Ello, gov’na

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One of these faces is not like the others

You must have thought I forgot about you! And, well, I sort of did. We had some upheaval around the homestead, and I had to focus there instead of here. Thanks for bearing with me. Your reward is another fine page from this Haberdasher’s gem tintype album. Being as men were often coiffed and whiskered in the 19th century, it is all the more obvious in a group when one man is the odd man out. Who knows why he did not wear a mustache or beard. It is a personal choice that is also influenced by fashion trends. Maybe his wife didn’t like it. Click each image below for greater detail.

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Hurray for Haberdashery!


Tiny gem album with fabulous secrets to explore!


10 gem-filled pages

I really need to stay off of eBay, haha. I found this fabulous little gem album a while back and I really could not control myself. Once you see inside of it, you will understand why. The album holds gem tintypes, those tiny representations that were popular during the second half of the 19th century. Since I previously gave you a history lesson on the gem tintype, I won’t go into that today (just click the link there).

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Do you like my hat?

Here’s the reason I call this little book the Haberdasher’s book. Nearly every photo is of a man and many of them have terrific hats! This is the first page seen when you open the book. It was previously repaired by someone skilled. You can see just a bit of the webbing in the upper center binding. Each page has 4 gem tintypes. There are 38 images in all.

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Do you not just LOVE this?! Take a close look at the first image…not only does he have a snazzy bowler, but he has pince nez spectacles! We have bowlers, mustaches, bowties, spectacles and tons of character, all on one little page. I think I’m going to hyperventilate! :-) Some of the faces are repeated and two images have been removed, but for what it’s worth, this is a truly spectacular find and I can’t wait to share it with you.

A Couple?

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Was this a couple, relatives, siblings?

Moving right along in this little gem album we have this pair of young adults. A woman and a man, both dressed nicely. I do wonder if they were related, married, or somehow knew each other. It is of course possible they had never met.

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Buttoned up

Our lady here has a typical 1860s bodice, fitted to her with a buttoned front, white collar and a brooch of some kind. The buttons look to have been functional as opposed to a bodice closed with hooks and eyes with decorative buttons on the front. Both were acceptable methods of dress closure. Possibly at the waist, the opening had a dog-leg and the skirt closed to the left of center. This made it easier to get into and out of dresses without tearing a seam. Also of note is that this lady’s hair is dressed with something on top, maybe a cap?, and ringlet curls in the back. While it appears she had a side part, in actuality the angle of her pose to the side makes it look that way, and in fact she has a center part.

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Howdy do, ma’am

I do so love this straw hat. It looks like a narrow brimmed bowler, made in straw with a wide band around the crown. The bowler hat was invented in the 1850s, and was originally made of metal as a riding hat. The fashion soon became popular because top hats were not practical for riding. Bowler hats were produced in beaver, felt, silk, straw, and probably wool. At first look, I assumed there was a scratch on the image, but on enlargement, I think he had a bow or cockade of some kind on his hat (see the left side of the brim).

I recently became acquainted with Heather Sheen of Creative Cockades. She made me some beautiful reproduction President Lincoln mourning cockades from black silk ribbon and reproduction gem tintype buttons. She has dedicated quite a lot of time and energy to researching and reproducing these interesting textile accessories in an historically accurate manner. Throughout history, from ancient Rome to modern political campaign buttons and ribbons of support (pink ribbons, red ribbons, etc), cockades have been used to show political affiliation, membership in a group, military awards, or patriotic fervor, among other things. Sheen told me that not only were cockades used to make a public statement they were also incorporated into military insignia and regalia. Whether indicating nationality, rank, or regiment, a man’s cockade told other soldiers important information about him. During the American Revolutionary War, officers were made to wear a cockade on their hat so others would be able to quickly identify ranks – important in an army that lacked uniforms! Our modern medals and ribbons worn by soldiers on their dress uniforms may have, in part, evolved out of this tradition. Sheen says that in particular, if a medal has colored rings around it, it likely has evolved from a traditional, historical cockade.

While we cannot tell what this man’s cockade signified, we can romantically surmise.

More information

Historical Overview of Cockades

Ribbons of Support: the history and uses of cockades

History of Cockades (with fabulous images of people wearing them!)

Bowler hats on wikipedia

Men’s Hats: a brief history and a look at the hat in the 21st century 

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