Softly falling jowls and a wardrobe malfunction

Mounted Tin Types 2 W

Is her dress coming open here?

A nice tintype of an older lady, maybe in her 50s? I have heard a lot of talk lately about tintypes adding years to a person’s face, so unless I see actual age signs, I’m a bit hesitant to guess. However, this lady does have the drooping eyelids and softly falling jowls of middle age.

From what I can see of her dress, it is a gathered front bodice with dropped shoulder seams, putting the dress in the 1860s. Unless my eyes are deceiving me, it looks like the front opening of the dress has popped open a smidge, showing a glimpse of the white undergarments or lining.

I read a little bit about dating tintypes in paper sleeves, and while I am confident this image is from the 1860s, I’m not certain as to what part. There was a style of paper sleeve called a cartouche that was popular until about 1865. The cartouche was characterized by an oval opening and decorative motifs around the opening. What makes me uncertain about this one is that the motifs are in the corners of the card. I’m not well versed enough in 1860s cartouche sleeves to know if that is exactly what this is. But, I’m leaning toward the second half of the 60s, or even the very end of the 60s. The card itself is CDV sized to fit with the popular styles of the time.

The style of motifs correspond with some other images I found in the same lot, so I am going to assume they were made by the same photographer, which was T. M. Saurman in Morristown, PA. My research into Saurman confuses me further on dating this particular image. He was found in the 1870 census to be only 23 years old. Could he have been in business in 1865 at only 18 years old? I find that unlikely. So this is probably not a cartouche in the style that was popular until about 1865, but an updated version for the use of photographic artists who made tintypes well until the 1900s. More on T. M. Saurman in my next post! Don’t go away.



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.


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.

Two children

Gems 1

A girl and boy, were they related?

Today let’s start our dive into Victorian Gems. This is the first page as you open the¬†little Red Gem Album. It’s a nice way to start an album, with two pretty children.

Plaid Dress Girl

Plaid Dress Girl

It is unfortunate that the scratch goes right across her face but otherwise this image is lovely and well preserved. She has her hair parted in the center as was customary for girls in the mid 19th century. I can’t tell if the hair is short, but it appears there is a tendril poking out from behind her ear on the right. Her dress is plaid which was not uncommon for children. Plaid hid dirt and stains better than solids. The fabric was possibly a wool/cotton blend. The dress also has a fine lace at her collar, befitting a little girl. Based on the dropped shoulder seams of her dress, I’d place this image in the 1860s. It appears also that the photographer tinted the cheeks of this subject to highlight her youth. She looks to be around 8-10 years old.

Gems 1 Boy

Handsome boy

Her page mate has the side part in his hair expected of boys of the era, and also has an unfortunate scratch across his face. His serious expression probably hides the exuberance locked within while he sat calmly for his portrait. His sack coat is also very common of the period. A sack coat is a catch all name for any coat that was loosely fitted and buttoned at the collar. It could have coordinated with trousers and was likely wool. He has a shirt of some kind underneath and you can just see the edge of its collar behind the folded lapels of his coat. He looks to have been 10-12 years of age. I do wonder if he and the girl were siblings.

No photographers information is included in this entire album, so I am going to forgo stating that in every post.

Liberty Bell 23

Liberty Bell 25

Oh really?

This gentleman has a rather inquisitive look, doesn’t he? The photograph made by E. W. Smart in Exeter, NH is from post 1900, due to the longer shape of the bristol board and fancy embossed border around the image. We have seen several others from the Liberty Bell album that feature similar styling. According to Brett Payne’s Victorian & Edwardian Photo Album Collection,¬†Elijah W. Smart was born in 1859, spent time working as a brass finisher, and then did a stint as a photographer before going back to the brass finishing business. Brett Payne is a fellow photograph enthusiast and I enjoy his other site Photo Sleuth which I found through Sepia Saturday.

Liberty Bell 15

Liberty Bell 17

Sullen boy

As we continue through the Liberty Bell album it appears the family and/or friends must have been located in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire area. Today we look at a sullen looking boy in skirts, so under the age of 5, and likely under the age of 4. He is probably upset because he is still in skirts! My understanding is that skirts were used on boys until 4 or 5 years of age. Initially they were used to facilitate diaper changes on small boys and toddlers. Later on, a boy’s first short pants were a sign of moving away from babyhood and on to boyhood. It was a big moment for a child.

This as-yet-unbreached boy was photographed some time in the 1890s by A. M. Bean of 295 Essex Street, Lawrence, MA.

Liberty Bell 12

Liberty Bell 14

Quite a hat!

Here is another W. P. Tilton photograph from the Liberty Bell album. This hat is certainly quite a creation! The Edwardian hats were designed to counterbalance the rounded bosom and protruding derriere that were popular at the time. A good hat could draw the eye up toward the face of the wearer, while the clothing hinted at the charms hidden beneath. This particular lady is also wearing eyeglasses, a high necked blouse and appears to have a cravat style jabot beneath her bodice. It is a high fashion statement, to say the least! We have several photographs by Tilton of Exeter, NH. To view them all, click on the Tilton category to the right.

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