When you first see this carte-de-visite from the early 1860s, you might get the feeling that something isn’t quite right. That’s because the four men in the photo are wearing clothes from a different era. I’m not sure, but I think they’re dressed in styles from the period of the American Revolution, almost a century earlier. Were they professional actors?
The photo was taken at the studio of Daniel K. Prescott and Edwin P. Gage in Hartford, Connecticut. The Connecticut Historical Society says the two photographers were in partnership under the name Prescott & Gage from about 1861 until 1865. Those were the years of the Civil War. From August 1864 to August 1866, the U.S. Congress collected a tax on photographs to generate funds for the war. This photo has no revenue stamp on the back, so it was almost certainly made before August 1, 1864.
It does have an unusual inscription:
Found Aug. 9th 1889 on Market St. between 8th & 9th
St Louis, MO
Someone whose initials were W.M.J. found (bought?) the photo in St. Louis, Missouri, some 25-28 years after it was taken. St. Louis is 1,078 miles (1,734 km) from Hartford, Connecticut.
When I look at these men, the musical HAMILTON comes to mind, even though I’ve only seen a few clips from it. Do you think they were professional actors?