A brush for your thoughts

This small tintype portrays an unusual subject for early photography: a standing woman appears poised to brush the hair of a seated woman, who has a comb and other items in her lap.  The standing woman is looking down and is slightly out of focus, while the seated woman is looking in the general direction... Continue Reading →

Woman at a spinner’s weasel

Have you heard the term spinner's weasel?  I hadn't until a few days ago, when I started researching the photo above.  The photo is slightly smaller than a cabinet card and more square.  I would tentatively date it to the 1890s (+/- 10 years).  On the back, a previous owner wrote the word Shaker, referring... Continue Reading →

A regal party

This large-format photograph came to me from the United Kingdom.  Unfortunately, it has nothing written on it and I haven't identified anyone in it.  Hanging high on the wall is a shield with a crown on it.  Would the crown indicate a royal household?  I've brightened it below to make it a little easier to... Continue Reading →

Ann Birkin, chevener to Queen Victoria

The woman in this carte-de-visite portrait isn't identified anywhere on the photo.  When I bought it last year, I never expected to learn her identity.  Three weeks ago, while browsing the website of Britain's Royal Collection Trust, I noticed a woman who looked very familiar.  The first thing that drew my attention was her shawl,... Continue Reading →

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. ... Continue Reading →

Newlyweds in Milwaukee, by William Wollensak

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was a magnet for immigrants throughout the 19th century.  The largest group came from Germany, beginning in the 1840s.  The next-largest group came from Poland in the decades after the American Civil War.  Other large groups included British, Irish, Scandinavians, Serbians, and Russian Jews. The bride in the portrait above looks Southern or... Continue Reading →

Mazaicasuawin and his wife, Anpaohdinajin (1898)

This stereograph (stereoview) was made from real photographs in 1898 by commercial photographer Truman Ward Ingersoll (1862-1922) of St. Paul, Minnesota.  Ingersoll produced many images of Ojibwe (Chippewa) people and their ways of life in northern Minnesota.  I was unable to find additional information about the couple in this portrait. In the Library of Congress's... Continue Reading →

Two childhood memories

I was told that the two postcards above and below came from Gratz, Pennsylvania.  The little girl above also appears in the large group below (scroll down for close-ups). She's seated next to a woman who looks like her mother.  She's smiling in both pictures, and it's nice to imagine that her childhood might have... Continue Reading →

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