Faded festivity

This cabinet card came to me from Spokane, Washington, but it has nothing written or printed on it to indicate its origin.  The costumes might be Norwegian (or Norwegian-American).  The faded sepia print doesn’t do them justice, but it’s all that remains of their beauty and artistry.

Spokane family 2

Spokane family 3

Spokane family 4

Spokane family 5



22 thoughts on “Faded festivity

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  1. It could be a Norwegian family, or perhaps Danish. The woman wearing what I’m sure is a bridal crown (traditional in Sweden, too) is holding a piece of what appears to be Hardanger embroidery, and that was popular in both Norwegian and Danish cultures. It still is, actually — and it’s quite difficult to do. I have some of my mother’s Hardanger cloth and threads, and there’s not a chance in the world I’m ever going master them.

    Just as American girls would do “fancy work” for their hope chests, Scandinavian girls would show off their expertise with a needle by creating such “show” pieces. This might well be a photo of a bride and her family.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I thought she was probably Norwegian, and probably a bride, so your comments were very helpful, Linda. I also wondered about the four other women in costume. Would they have participated in the wedding, like bridesmaids? Two look like they were about the same age as the bride, and two roughly the age of the bride’s parents (so possibly her mother and an aunt, or two aunts). I wonder if that was by chance or if the roles were prescribed by tradition.

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  2. I think you are right about the costumes. In the 1880’s there was a major influx of Scandinavians. An interesting fact. By 1920, every 20th inhabitant of Seattle was Norwegian-born or born in America of Norwegian parents

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I do like what shoreacres is saying.

    It does look like the bride is carrying Hardanger embroidery and that embroidery may also be a part of her wonderful white ‘apron’.

    She does seem to be wearing a bridal crown. When I first looked at this photo, I thought that the design of the Norwegian bridal crown had been enhanced by native American design. But that is probably too fanciful on my part and this was probably a conservative people like any other group of immigrants.

    What a photo of the hierachy of a family!. Thanks! Sarah

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The way they’re posed on the steps does suggest a hierarchy, although it was probably done to put the costumes in front. The whole thing seems impromptu. There’s something a little sad and touching about the old guy alone at the top, but it’s nice to see three generations together in the photo.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m captivated by this lovely cabinet card! To be honest I like it in the faded sepia just as it is. In my mind’s eye I know it’s an extraordinarily colorful moment. But, this allows me the charm of the lines and textures and beautiful faces. It’s really wonderful Brad! Thank you 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You make a great point, Suzanne, about being able to focus on the lines and textures without being dazzled by color, as we would undoubtedly have been if we could have seen these costumes in person. It’s also fair to say that the folks in regular clothes would have seemed very drab by comparison. Thanks so much! 😊

      Liked by 2 people

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