This cabinet card was listed for sale in England without any information, and only after receiving it did I see "F DOWNER WATFORD" in the lower right corner of the image. Frederick Downer (1840-1919) was the first commercial photographer in Watford, which is 15 miles (24 km) northwest of central London. Mandolin ensembles and orchestras arose... Continue Reading →
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 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 →
If you've already looked at the previous post, Jeanne Fouillon and her beautiful harp, then you've already seen the portrait above. When I put that post together last week, I hadn't yet tried to identify the dignified gentleman with the harp. It seemed like a long shot, but one that might be worth a try. ... Continue Reading →
Is there any instrument as angelic to the ear and eye as the harp? I had hoped to find a reference to Jeanne Fouillon online, but haven't succeeded so far. Her harp is certainly very graceful and beautiful to the eye. The carte-de-visite was made by Augustin Michel in Grenoble, France, around 1890. Jeanne's... Continue Reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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.
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.
Informal early photos of musicians are surprisingly rare. On the other hand, musical instruments have often appeared in formal portraits. The postcard below was made some years after the photo above.