Category Archives: CDVs

The German man with the scarred cheek

Scarred cheek German man. CDV. Private Collection.

Scarred cheek German man. CDV. Private Collection.

This German man may have been a veteran soldier in civilian suit. Something got him good on the side of the face, perhaps a knife. I’m thinking he was a soldier for the ribbon across the chest. He’s also wearing the black visor hat I mentioned before that was so popular in Germany at the time, and both worn by boys and men.

The bottom of the card was clipped to fit into an album. I can’t make out the message or handwritten name, only the year: 1910.


Photographer: Carl Thies. Hannover. Germany


The fire’s still burning bright in this old man

Old smiling man. CDV. Private Collection.

1870’s old smiling man from Algona, Iowa. Burlingame. CDV. Private Collection.

The oldest sitter in my collection!  He must have been in his 70’s or 80’s at the time of this picture, always a feat at a time when the average lifespan was much shorter. I find it fascinating to think this man was born in or around 1800. I cannot begin to imagine what his life was like, the changes he witnessed, what he had seen and experienced, good or bad, and after all that for him to smile like this. So unusual too for a carte de visite of the period.

He looks like someone who led a very fulfilling life. There is fire and a zest for life in his piercing eyes old age did not manage to dim. And to complement the effect he still had a headful of thick, snowy white hair.

There is a different kind of true beauty that transcends age and is deeper than the fleeting skin-deep one of youth; this content looking, dignified old man is proof. (I bet though, that he was quite the gentleman in his younger days too!)

I love his generous neck scarf too, the way he tied it in a nice bow.

CDV back

CDV back

Photographer: D.W. Burlingame’s. Fine Art Gallery, Algona. Iowa.

Clear blues within a frame, within a frame -and a theory on those unbuttoned waistcoats of the Civil War era

Carte de visite. J.W. Gould. Ohio. Private Collection.

1860’s Carte de visite. J.W. Gould. Ohio. Private Collection.

A handsome sitter from the 1860’s with very light blue eyes!  Several points to make about this portrait:

I like that the picture was framed within the border lines of this carte de visite.

Also, the way he tied his neck ribbon is interesting.

And he chose to open his waistcoat with the top and bottom still buttoned, like many Civil War soldiers did on the pictures of the era…Was he a veteran in civilian suit? A good chance, the lines and corners of this CDV date this picture to be between 1864 and 1869. The next decade saw the rise of a civilian fashion trend where men wore their coat with the top buttoned but not the bottom.  The thought behind it was to show the waistcoat, but I have a theory on it. I think the trend emerged out of respect for soldiers whose uniforms were standard issued and were too small for their frame…For example, the trend of bushy beards became popular with mature Victorians when they wished to imitate the soldiers who fought the Crimean war. I believe people were looking up to those brave boys and adopted their style…so why not the way a coat or waistcoat is buttoned?

Photographer: J.W. Gould. Main Street. Carrollton, Ohio.

The 1870s Bostonian boy with the terrific eyes

CDV. Private collection.

1870s CDV of boy with intense stare. Private collection.

Once in a while I come across a special portrait that makes me go “wow”, then “hm…this looks like an old soul”. This picture captured the boy with the intense stare of somebody much beyond his years.


The card has round corners not shown here.

He was well dressed too, with a white ribbon tied like a bowtie. By the lapels and style of card I estimate this was taken around 1870 or in the early years of the decade at most. The front bottom was clipped to fit in an album.

Photographer: Warren’s Portraits. 465 Washington St. Boston. Massachusetts.

Creative Commons License

Coming of Age II

Austrian boy with very high collar & cigarette. CDV. Personal Collection.

Austrian boy with very high collar & cigarette. CDV. Personal Collection.

A thick late period CDV of a dapper Austrian boy. He’s wearing a high collar and white tie that together elongate his silhouette. His jacket’s wrinkled but his gentlemanly appearance is complete with a straw boater hat, buttonhole jewelry chain and a cane tucked on his arm.

The backdrop is plain and looks like a painted room corner.

This card reminds me of the German one.

Photographer: Atelier Tegeffhoff. Inh. F. Jelinek. Vienna. Austo-Hungarian Empire.

1860s ‘Uncle John Randolph’

John Randolph. CDV circa 1870. Private Collection.

1860s ‘uncle’ John Randolph. CDV. Private Collection.

This handsome fellow with the small smile came on a CDV with the beautiful design around the vignette portrait. His name is written in pencil on the back. Was he of the famed Randolph family of Virginia?

I wonder if his bowtie was a patriotic red and white.

John Randolph CDV with the intricate chandelier-like frame design.

John Randolph CDV with the intricate chandelier-like frame design.

Turn of the century duo of circus performers

1890s-1900s  European circus dancers. CDV. Private Collection

1890s-1900s European circus performers. CDV. Private Collection

The CDV is blank, back and front, but someone wrote their names and even the circus they toured with. Unfortunately I haven’t found info on either the circus or this pair of dancers/circus performers. I can’t even begin to imagine what their lives were like performing on the road back then. What do you think, siblings or a couple? It would make sense to imagine siblings growing up training how to dance, and they look similar.


Robert og Hilda Smith
Cirkus Frank C. Louis

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