Category Archives: Old Photos

1880’s Style Photo

I simply love this photo!  It is a great example of 1880’s style – probably mid 80’s.  The tight curls at the forehead are definitely from this time period – they used a hot curling iron, much as we do today.  The pleated skirt also indicates the mid 1880’s.

This is quite a beautiful dress – I love all the buttons.  The lace collar and cuffs are very ornate with flowers and leaves, and give a feminine touch to the outfit.  Her jewelry lets everyone know she is a well-to-do woman.

This photograph was taken by W. A. Hopkins in Darlington, Wisconsin.

Where Were Those Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes and Tintypes Taken?

After writing the blogs last week about the very old family photographs I have, I couldn’t help but think – where did they have these photos taken?  This lead to another search.  Located in Washington County, I believe they must have gone to Louisville.  It would have been the nearest large city, so that was where I focused my research.

Thomas Jefferson Dobyns was a daguerreotypist, ambrotypist and merchant, active in Memphis, Tennessee, as early as 1845.  He opened a studio in Louisville in 1847, and one in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1848; two years later Vicksburg and Nashville contained his studios, as well as New Orleans in 1851 and New York in 1853.

According to From Pioneer Photographers from the Mississippi to the Continental Divide, by Peter E. Palquist and Thomas R. Kailbroun, Dobyns opened his ‘Daguerreian gallery in Memphis across from the Continental Hotel in late August 1845, in time to take advantage of the crowds of delegates in town to attend the Western and Southwestern Convention’ and as of June 1846, advertised that ‘he had a camera large enough to execute pictures of any size.’

As the above ad in The Louisville Daily Courier, Thursday, February 8, 1855, says, the studio is opened again and with reduced prices.  It lists itself as the oldest gallery in the city, located at the corner of Main and Third Streets.  Dobyns’ partner in Louisville was John Hewett.

This advertisement from an August 21, 1855, Louisville Daily Courier, lists several galleries.  W. A. McGill list prices beginning at 50 cents for a 1/9 size daguerreotype.  He also offers miniatures set in rings, lockets, pins, etc.  50 cent daguerreotypes are also offered by Carpenter and Swymmer.  And Theodore Harris offers photographs in 15 seconds!

I love this advertisement from August 28, 1855, since it gives more information on the types of photographs you can choose – upon a metal plate, glass or paper, from Webster’s Gallery.

Mammoth Gallery says, ‘A blue and white Double Quick Work Sky Light, just introduced by Roesberg, at his well-known Mammoth Daguerrean Gallery, which enables him to take Pictures in a few seconds, and for the reduced price of fifty cents and upwards.  It also is one of the best lights ever known to produce a correct likeness, either of children or adults.  The red hair and blue eyes which heretofore have always been so difficult to produce, are now no longer any trouble, to give them the real artistic disposition of light and shade.’  In addition, he adds, ‘All medium size pictures that are badly taken by other artists, will be retaken over at 50 cents, and if not bettered no charge is made for trying.’

At Brown’s Gallery, an athanotype is ‘a photograph on glass, a picture of exquisite beauty, holding place above daguerreotypes or the ordinary photograph.  The picture is held between plates of glass, and securely protected from all influence of atmosphere, dampness, and even acids, hence it bears every guarantee of durability.’

John M. Hewett, in collaboration with T. J. Dobyns, was located on Main Street between Third and Fourth Streets.  From The Encyclopedia of Louisville, by John E. Kleber, gives us an 1848 description of Hewitt’s studio, ‘as one of the most magnificent in the United States, with a reception room, 65 by 63 feet, furnished with the most costly furniture, including a ‘splendid pianoforte’ kept for the entertainment of visitors.  A separate ‘ladies’ toilet’ was similarly furnished.  Both of these areas were separate from the room where likenesses were taken, which had a ‘magnificent light and is equal to the other rooms spoken of.’  All were ornamented with likenesses ‘of the most eminent men and the most beautiful ladies in the United States.  The Filson Club owns a fine set of daguerreotype portraits by Hewitt, and his work is also found in Louisville family collections.  The studio does not appear in directories after 1856.  In 1852, 23 people engaged in making daguerreotypes that year – only eight studios are listed in the city directory for 1851-52, so they employed an average of two to three individuals.’

From the same book, we learn that during the 1850’s several studios were founded – Webster and Brother (Edward Z. and Israel B. Webster), Theodore Harris, Daniel Stuber and Edward Klauber.

It would be wonderful to know for sure which studio(s) my family visited for their daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes!

Tintypes – Last of the Cased Photographs

The last of the cased photographs are tintypes – which is actually a misnomer since they were not made of tin, but metal.  These were easy to make, inexpensive and durable.  An easy way to know if you have a tintype is to use a magnet – the pull will be felt even through the case.  Tintypes were made from about 1855 to 1880 – but once the carte-de-visite card photographs became popular in the 1860’s, fewer tintypes were made.  And after the 1860’s most of the tintypes were in paper envelopes instead of a case.

I have four tintypes.  The first is of a baby – Alice Clark Linton, daughter of Edward Edwards Linton and Catherine Elizabeth Taylor – in fact, their oldest child.  She is also the granddaughter of John Compton Taylor and Susan Clark Edwards; and William Linton and Eliza Lyon Moran.  The man holding Alice is a mystery.  I believe it might be her father, Edward Linton, but that is only a guess.  Alice Linton was born in 1855, and she looks to be about one to two years in this photo.  She wears a lovely dress made of beautiful material.  Her little cheeks are tinted.  The gentleman is gently holding her head for a clear photo – in which he succeeded – but her feet were not so still!

The next photo is that of John Compton Taylor.  He, his sons Edward and Benjamin, his daughter Margaret, his second wife, Susan Kimberlain, and their two daughters, Mary and Sarah, were soon to move to Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.  I believe these photos were taken before the journey began.  Catherine Elizabeth Taylor Linton, John Taylor’s oldest daughter, was the only child remaining in Kentucky.  These photos would be remembrances for those leaving, and those left behind.  This particular photo was said to be Captain John Linton.  However, he died in 1836, long before photographs were introduced into the United States.  After I came to that conclusion, I thought perhaps it could be his son, Rev. Benjamin Franklin Linton.  But I have recently seen a photograph of Benjamin Linton, and this is not his photo.

Then I put this photo next to one of John Compton Taylor.  There is absolutely no doubt.  In this photo, his hair is longer.  But look at the ears – John Taylor’s ears are very distinctive – and you can see them in both photos.  This is a carte-de-visite photo card.  Can you see the resemblance? You can see the decorative mat, the shape being a double elliptical with stamped decoration.  This was used from 1858 to 1860.  The reinforced corners and sides of the preserver also date to this time period.

The next two tintype photographs are of William Linton (son of Captain John Linton) and his wife, Eliza Lyon Moran.  William’s photograph is nicely tinted – his cheeks and his handkerchief.  He wears the clothing of the period (1858-1860), but is extra dapper with his light-colored vest.

William Linton’s mat is a double elliptical, with stamped decoration.  The preserver, not shown is decorative and has reinforced corners.

Eliza Lyon Moran Linton doesn’t see very happy in this photo, although neither was anyone else during this time-period.  Part of her problem, William was a handful to live with!  I suppose there is one in every family.  Eventually all their financial dealings were turned over to their son Edward Linton.  Eliza wears a very beautiful lacy cap.  It is hard to see the rest of her outfit due to deterioration, but if greatly enlarged there are little embroidered embellishments on her cape, with more on the actual dress.

Eliza Linton’s mat is an oval shape, nicely decorated.

These are such precious gifts from earlier generations.

 

Relationships to me:

Alice Clark Linton – 2nd great-aunt

Edward Edwards Linton and Catherine Elizabeth Taylor – 2nd great-grandparents

John Compton Taylor and Susan Clark Edwards – 3rd great-grandparents

William Linton and Eliza Lyon Moran – 3rd great-grandparents

Captain John Linton – 4th and 5th great-grandfather

Two Examples of Ambrotype Photographs

The second type of early photographs were ambrotype photos.  Ambrotypes look very similar to the later tintype photos.  An easy way to test them is to use a magnet – even through the case you can fell the attraction of the magnet with the iron used for the tintype.  The glass of the ambrotype feels no pull from the magnet.

An ambrotype was created on a piece of glass – and looked like a negative until a black background was added.  Begun about 1855, the earlier ambrotypes had the photograph on one piece of glass, with an additional piece of glass covered with a tar-like pitch.  About 1858 the varnish covers the back of the glass with the photo on front or sometimes a colored class was used.  In 1859 the clear glass has a black cloth at the back of the image.  I have one with the double glass and one with the black varnish on back of the photo.

This photograph of my 4th great-grandmother, Nancy Linton Edwards, was probably taken about 1855.  There are two pieces of glass in the case – one with the photo, and another with the black pitch on back.  Unfortunately, the glass containing the photograph was broken, but it still gives us a good idea of her features.  Nancy was the daughter of Captain John Linton and Ann Mason, born in Loudoun County, Virginia, in 1778.  She married Edward Barber Edwards, with whom she raised a large family.  On the way through the Cumberland Gap, from Virginia to Kentucky, her horse was spooked by a cougar or bobcat, causing her to fall and break her leg.  She traveled in a litter the rest of the way to Washington County, and never walked again.

Nancy’s cotton cap was used by older women during the 1850’s, younger women using a bonnet.  She wears the older fashions of the 1840’s.  Looking at her white hair, face and neck you could easily guess her age of about 77.  But look at her fingers – they look long and very elegant.  There is just a hint of color in her cheeks.

As you can tell from this photo, the scan is not generally good unless you remove the photograph from the case, but I wanted you to see the mat that is used with this photograph.  It is called a nonpareil mat, due to the shape, and was used between 1850 and 1859.  The preserver (around the edge) is still rather simple, but a little more decorative than with the daguerreotype photos.

The case is lined with red velvet and is decorated on front and back with the same design.  The case is 3 ¼ x 3 ¾.

This next ambrotype is a great photo of a youngish man with great hair and beard!  His collar and tie are from the 1850’s – as are the wide lapels of his coat and the overall larger look of the suit.  I believe this to be Edward Edwards Taylor, son of John Compton Taylor and Susan Clark Edwards, my 3rd great-grandparents.  Edward was a brother to my Catherine Elizabeth Taylor who married Edward Edwards Linton – a little confusing with those middle names!  This photo has only one piece of glass, with the varnish on back, so we can date this photo to about 1858.  In that year Edward, or ‘Ned’ as he was called, would have been 27 years of age.  Also, his ears look very much like those of his father, John Taylor.

The mat with this photo is oval, with much decoration.  The preserver, not shown in this photo, is also more decorated, with semi-reinforced corners.  The case is similar to Nancy Edwards’ case, but the photograph is smaller – 2 3/8 x 2 7/8.

Next up, tintypes!

Daguerreotype, Ambrotype and Tintype – What Kind of Photograph Do You Have?

Yesterday I brought out my old photographs in wood and leather cases, lined with red velvet – photographs taken of several of my 3rd and 4th great-grandparents, and assorted aunts and uncles.  I have looked at these photographs many times, but I was determined to learn more about them.

In my research, I found three types of photos that were encased as mentioned above – 1) Daguerreotype, 1840-1855, the photograph is made on a silver coated piece of copper.  2) Ambrotype, 1855-1865, the photograph is created on a piece of glass.  3) Tintype, 1855-1880, the photograph is made on a thin piece of iron.  But what did I have in my collection?  Actually, I have photographs of all three processes.

The oldest of my photographs are two daguerreotypes – photos of John Edwards and his wife, Milly Linton Edwards, my fourth great uncle and aunt.  John was a brother to Susan Clark Edwards, my 3rd great-grandmother.  This couple is buried in the Linton Cemetery in Washington County, along with Captain John Linton and other family members.

An easy way to tell if your photograph is a daguerreotype is to move it side to side – this particular type of photo has a reflection like a mirror when moved from side to side.  The photos are in a double case that folds to look like a modern photo album, lined with red velvet.

The case is made of leather and has mother-of-pearl in-lay on the front.  On the spine is gold filigree with the word ‘Memento’.

It must have been rather expensive to have such nice photos and a case of this caliber.  John Edwards was the eldest son, and he and Nancy had only one daughter.  Perhaps this gave them an advantage for purchasing extras.

I believe this photo to be taken during the 1840’s – possibly about 1848.  It was a period not only of modesty, but included a popular trend toward extreme bodily constriction.  I think Milly looks very uncomfortable in her dress – notice the extremely tiny waist – how could she breathe? In the photo below you can see the chair slats and wall – and tell just how small that waist was!

The corset she wears makes the bosom and stomach very flat.  I removed the photos from their case to get a good scan.  You can see markings from the oval mat.

There are four parts to each daguerreotype photo (apart from the case) – the daguerreotype plate, brass mat, cover glass and preserver (the thin, foil-like frame that holds all pieces together).  The oval brass mat is made from a heavy, stiff brass, with an inside bevel and a sandy texture, which can be dated from 1846 to 1850.  The preserver, the ‘frame’ around the edges wraps all the pieces together.  Preservers did not appear until 1847.  This simple one, with just slight notches on the sides, was used from 1847 to 1850.  Later they became more decorative.

John’s photo is of a very robust, tall, healthy man with broad shoulders – with wild hair!  Look at his eyes in this photo – quite vivid from so many years ago!  His white collar, just a hint turned down over his tie, is indicative of the 1840’s, as is his soft necktie, tied in a knot.  Do you notice just a hint of tinting – especially on his cheeks – but very well done.  Some tinting looks like a child colored on the photo!

We will discuss ambrotype photographs in the next post!  Do you have any of these old photographs in your collection?

What A Hat!

Isn’t this an exceptional photo?  The hat is the first thing to catch your eye!  What a creation of feathers, flowers and netting!  This young woman has captivated us with her lacy white blouse, dark skirt and decorative belt.  She is a beautiful example of early 20th century womanhood.  If only we knew her name!

1900 Photo of Family with Baby in Umbrella Stroller

Such a wonderful old photo to share with you today!  There is no name of photographer, or the couple and baby in this photo, but it is precious beyond saying!  Look at the old fashioned stroller, with umbrella to protect baby from the sun.  It is wicker, and very ornate, white lace and ruffles falling gently from the top of the umbrella.  The couple is not looking directly at the photographer, but has their eyes focused on their child! The mother wears a white blouse and skirt, and the father a suit and dapper hat.  A beautiful remembrance from a time long ago.