Early Colombia Portrait Company button photograph

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Detail of 1890’s to early 1900’s button portrait. ©bahc/c.ryan

This portrait is a beautiful early example of tin buttons the Chicago based Columbia Portrait Company used to make. The three founders Thomas J. Ogara, Thomas J. Durkin, and C.M. Stumcke incorporated in 1893 and the company was successful for nearly half a century before closing its doors in 1940. The name of the company was inspired by the Chicago’s World Fair of 1893 where they must have made their introduction. They made fine oil reproduction portraits and framed button “bubble” photographs they then began to sell on the road across the country.

So let’s talk about this young gentleman. I believe his portrait is very likely the reproduction of a cabinet card/cdv/tintype. The picture is sharp  and he was dressed to impress. His tie stack is impressive too, is this a large gemstone set with smaller ones? (I’m tempted to say they’re diamonds). The button is a smooth matte; unlike the later celluloid examples I’ve seen which have a plasticity or “bubble” effect to them. This portrait looks more like a tintype. I wonder if the young man was at the fair and had it done then and there.

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The button portrait is 6 inches in diameter, not counting the brass frame with hook. The logo is at the back center.

When I saw this button portrait I knew I had to have it. I was thrilled to find a tintype-like photograph in this format, with the sitter easily fitting in this collection. It needed quite a bit of cleaning up too. I usually keep originals alone but I’m looking to find out how to renovate the frame and cover a few age stains.


A summer day in the countryside

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Enjoying a summer day on a log rocking chair. Private Collection.

This gentleman has an easy air of sophistication, dressed in all white with a neat bowtie and open book on his lap. He looks as if he’s escaped the city for a bit of downtime and fresh air. This real photo postcard portrait was taken in the 1920’s.

Here’s a closer look at him.

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“Guess Who?”

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c. 1930-40 photo portrait. 3.25″ x 4″. Private Collection.

Someone wrote “Guess who?” on the back.

“Is this..? Oh my God, it is!” I imagine the recipient said when they first gazed at the portrait, and then a small smile formed in response to the genuine one on display.

This young man posed in his zipped up leather aviator jacket with a plaid scarf around the neck and dotted tie. His smile is endearing, with the hand tinted cheeks. Some say he bears a striking resemblance to Matt Damon. I can see it, do you?


Harold and Woods Ballies

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RPPC of Harold and Woods Ballies, c.1910. Private Collection.

These two look effortlessly elegant. Harold and Woods posed in their stiff collars and loose suits for a formal portrait. Hopefully they did their mama proud!

RPPC: AZO 1904-1918.


The wee lad

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Hi, Give Me A Match. 1900s-10s RPPC of boy in adult size coat and cap. Private collection.

The parents must have had a good laugh with this one! So much so they made copies with a caption to share, one of which found its place in this collection.

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This 1900’s young man with the curtained hair

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1900’s RPPC. Private Collection.

I love this portrait for many reasons; the weathering adds a certain something to it that’s hard to describe, this young man’s also a bit nervous and awkward like he didn’t quite know how he would pose after he put his hat on the floor. And the backdrop drape is not figurative but painted more abstractly.

 

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RPPC: Back typical of North American cards of the period, but with no stamp box.


Misled Love

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PC Paris #2886. Postcard. Private Collection.

Love which serenades your heart
Is it sincere? Is it misled?

A pink tinted French PC Paris postcard with a warning!


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