Poised and confident in Porto, Portugal

I found this carte-de-visite for sale in Massachusetts, which is the state with the second-highest number of Portuguese Americans (after California).  Who was this elegant young woman, posing confidently at an instrument a century and a half ago?  And what kind of instrument was it, exactly?  It looks too narrow to be a piano, yet... Continue Reading →

“Waldfreunde” Mandolin Orchestra (1922)

This photo came from a collector of banjos and musical ephemera in Boston, Massachusetts.  The names of the men in the photo are written on the back, along with the following inscription: Andenken an den Touristenverein Waldfreunde (Feuerbach) im Jahr 1922 This translates roughly to "Souvenir of the Waldfreunde touring group in the year 1922." ... Continue Reading →

Musician with Tanjore tambura

This 19th-century photograph was printed on very thin paper and glued to a stiffer paper mount.  At some point the mount was trimmed to the dimensions of a postcard, possibly so that it would fit into an album.  The back is blank.  I bought it from a dealer in Suffolk, England, who couldn't tell me... Continue Reading →

The piano tuner (Wales)

The young man appearing on this carte-de-visite could be certain everyone would remember his profession.  You might even say he was in tune with the latest trends in advertising and self-promotion.  The one thing he neglected to do was write his name on the back, which is a pity. The CDV was made by James... Continue Reading →

Glimpses of Latvian culture

The photograph above came from Latvia, which was part of the Russian Empire until November 1918.  The photo was probably taken in the 1890s.  The men are most likely Latvian, but it's hard to say for sure.  If only we could hear them play.... The following postcard also came from Riga, the capital.  Latvia was... Continue Reading →

Automate à musique (WWI)

This German Feldpost (field/military) postcard is dated Aug. 19, 1916.  Infantrymen are being entertained by a man in civilian clothes holding a music box with the words "Automate à musique" on the front.  Perched calmly on top of the music box is a black and white cat.  A second man in civilian clothes stands a... Continue Reading →

Votes for Women!

This postcard came from the estate of Hazel Alberts Peterson (1898-1989).  The photo was taken in front of the Young Ladies' Hall at Seattle Seminary, a Free Methodist secondary school that was expanding at this time along with the booming new city nearby.  Hazel Alberts is the girl in white who is seated on the... Continue Reading →

Man with banjo

This CDV (carte-de-visite) came from an antiques shop in Massachusetts.  CDVs began to decline in popularity in the 1870s with the advent of larger cabinet cards, but the format remained in use until about 1900.  The albumen print process was used for both formats.  

The Kansas Spirit

This snapshot came with no information, but the sheet music on the left side of the piano is "The Kansas Spirit" by George L. Wright.  Behind the title on the cover are the letters KU, for the University of Kansas.    

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