The new dress

The day of the party has arrived.  She and her friends have been working on their dresses for weeks.

“Let’s take pictures!”

“I don’t know, I have a lot of things left to do.  Maybe later.”

“It’ll only take a few minutes to set up the camera.  We might be too busy later.”

“You’re right.  But let’s put a rug down first, so we don’t get dirty.”

Castle dancer 2b


Carte-de-visite, photographer unknown.  The word “Spain” is written on the back, but that may be the conjecture of a later owner.

Castle dancer 4e

Castle dancer 3b



15 thoughts on “The new dress

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  1. Given the Empire line of the dress ( no waist, with the skirt starting from under the breasts and fashionable about 100 years before this photo was taken), I think this may be a dress for a costume party. Is there any clue to a date? I’m thinking 1910s based on her hairstyle and the fact that it is taken by an amateur, perhaps with a Brownie?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The photo is mysterious for several reasons, one of which you pointed out: the Empire styling. She might have been an actress in a local theater production, or she might have been attending a costume party, as you suggest.

      If the photo was taken in the 20th century, then why was it printed on a CDV? CDVs were still being made in some studios in the early 1900s, but I’ve only seen formal portraits from that time, whereas other things were being printed on postcard stock. Finally, there’s the outline of the negative, which is visible in the print (last image above), and I don’t know why that was included. It’s a mystery!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Brad,

        It is indeed a mystery. I’ve seen a number of later photos, glued onto CDV and cabinet card sized cardboard. None had anything printed on the back. I assume this was done so that later photos would slot nicely into family albums that were made for the older standard sizes. Could we see the back of the CDV?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good point about the albums, Kate. That makes sense during a transition from long-standing formats like CDVs and cabinet cards to a new format like postcards. Everyone already had CDV albums at home.

        I didn’t scan the back of the carte, but I’ll do it today and add it to the post. Maybe it will give you a clue of some kind. I bought it from someone in Massachusetts, but that doesn’t tell us anything.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I see a picture of a theater actress. This photo is a beautiful mystery The woman’s eyes say that she’s an actress
    I’m always amazed at how much fabric was required for the dresses of those times! And this is clearly not synthetics…

    Liked by 2 people

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