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.

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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?

I’ve been neglecting you…

I had no idea it had been two months since my last post, and I really apologize! I think I have too many hobbies because I have been neglecting my other sites also, and that just isn’t acceptable. But, don’t you fret and don’t you frown, I have a ton of surprises in store for you!! I have just recently been trawling the “Worlds Longest Flea Market” in Tennessee and while most people were buying rustic windows and dishes, I was digging through the boxes of photos. No surprise there! I came away with nearly 100 new items to look at. It’s a matter now of scanning, but I hope to get that done here pretty soon. We are going to be doing some construction on our house in the next several months, so in advance I’m letting you know of my potential lapses, lol.

Just take a look at all these goodies!

Why yes, there are nearly 50 Christmas cards there!

A fine array of images to dig into!

So, I hope to get the site updated more often for your reading enjoyment, plus I do intend to continue my Christmas tradition of posting a Christmas Card a day during the holiday season. This year I have nearly 50 cards, so I expect we will begin in late November and continue through the New Year. That is going to be fun! One set of cards represents one family over more than 10 years. It will be an interesting progression, indeed!Until next week, dear friends, when the progression of fabulous vintage photographs begins anew…

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

Carlos W

Carlos W

A fine man was Carlos

Carlos back W

Carlos Deana Worlwich?

This fine fellow with his mutton chop whiskers is Carlos. Carlos was photographed sometime in the 1860s, but I don’t know where as there is no photographer’s mark on the card. What can we glean from this image? Carlos was losing his hair and tried to do a fancy comb about on top that reminds me personally a bit of a baby’s curl. He compensated for his lack of upper hair with fine facial hair. His suit has wide lapels and you can see the satin or silk watermarks in them. He has a fancy silk neckcloth with some sort of fastener on it.

Can you read the handwriting? It looks like Carlos Deana Worlwich to me. Could the name Worlwich on a second line indicate that was where he lived? There’s a town in England with that name. Was the name Carlos a popular one in England?? So many questions!

What does this all have to do with the polka, you ask? I’m going out on a limb to suggest that Carlos was from Spain or Mexico & Latin America, where polka music was – and still is – very popular. Here in Southern California, we hear Norteño, Tejano, and Cojunto all the time, and probably don’t think a thing about it! During the 19th century, Europeans were emigrating to the Americas, and many settled in Mexico, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, etc. Of course the immigrants influenced local culture, and their music was combined, resulting in the polka style music with the Spanish lyrics. The accordion, tuba and piano are crucial instruments in an ensemble. Just as Mexican and Latin culture influenced European foods, these styles of music from “South of the Border” have an exciting spice and vitality to them!

Here’s a sampling of one of my favorite bands, Los Lobos, California boys who found fame when they provided music for the film La Bamba! which was about the fated singer Ritchie Valens. This recording is from 1987 when they were first starting out, but they are still around and still making great music!

To learn more about polka, just step off to Sepia Saturday for a whirl around the dance floor!

And a one, and a two….

Tom King

Tom King W

Does it say King or something else?

This distinguished gentleman was identified, to a degree. The person who wrote his name did not have the best penmanship. Is his name Tom King? Tomkins? What do you all think? He has a fine beard, neat coat and tie, high forehead and deep eyes.

Tom King back W

D. Jones, Artist

In this same batch of photographs is someone with the last name Tomkins, so I am leaning toward that, but at first blush, it does look like Tom King. Mr. WhoEverHeWas was photographed by D. Jones in Liverpool, England. Studios were located at 66 Bold Street and 11 Church Street.

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

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