Tag Archives: old photographs

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

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!

Mrs. Willis and Son Photographers

A great photo of this husband and wife, if not quite as well made as some.  You can see the jewelry of the wife and her black lace collar.  One feature that dates this photo to around 1887 is the geometric line below the photo and above the studio imprint.  Also, the gentleman’s jacket buttoned at the very top.

Another interesting fact is the photographer who took this was a woman.  There were quite a few women photographers in the late 1800’s.  Many started helping their husband’s or father’s with photography and ended up being one!

This photo was taken by Ella Willis, or possibly one of her sons, Nathaniel Parker Willis or Lewis Willis.  The father and husband, Abner Delmar Willis, was a photographer in Crawford, Illinois, from 1866 through 1892, when age forced him to give up his work.  At that time the studio continued as Mrs. Willis and Son, as listed at the bottom of this photo.

But twenty years before that date, she was making photographs of her own – with her cards listing Ella Willis Art Studio, Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Perhaps she was on a level with her husband?  His cards read, A. D. Willis, Crawfordsville, Indiana.  Such a modern woman – with a husband that appreciated her talent!

Son Parker Willis had his name on cards – possibly after his mother retired – or before!  A family of photographers.

Lace, Ruffles and More Lace

I purchased this wonderful photo just today at J. Sampson Antiques and Books on Main Street in Harrodsburg – another of our treasures!  As I walked through the store after checking through the books (found one on Scott County history, the Wilderness Road, Shakertown and the old Mud Meeting House), I saw this picture and fell in love!

This woman is quite beautiful – a classic beauty with a romantic hair style.  But her dress steals the show.  The high collar, ruffled cuffs, the entire dress is lace, lace and more lace.  And in the beautiful white of the turn of the 20th century.  How I wish we knew her name.  I suppose she will remain the beautiful mystery woman!

Have a wonderful Friday!