Tag Archives: victorian

Fashionably Victorian in Adrian, Michigan

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W.T. Barnum, Adrian Michigan cabinet card of young man with cross tie tack.

This handsome teen’s hair was a mess of waves in the front. He didn’t fight it with pomade, instead choosing to let it do its thing! He wears a distinguished white tie with a cross tie tack the focal point. A nice piece of jewelry with the chain hanging by the side. The cross itself appears to have horseshoes and bell symbols, and is this a saint in the middle? I’d like to find out what the cross represents, aside from being what I suspect is a luck charm. Could it be a military cross, a type of iron cross? It looks like the American sharpshooter one, except that one has a target in the center.

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This card is of the 1870s-90s when flat and fat ties were extremely popular (and yet -random thought- I never see them in period films!). The fabric looks beautifully regal too. This portrait reminds me of this other cabinet card of the same era, with the similar type of tie and collar combination (and pose).

Update: this young man was a university student, member of the  Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. The local chapter -Alpha Mu- in Adrian, Michigan was founded in 1881, and is still active today. This cabinet card is most likely from the 1880s! It would not be impossible to find out who he was. 

Thank you, Val, for your research!

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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.


Victorian young man of St. Johnsbury, VT

Ivorygraph. St. Johnsbury. Vermont. Boston. Young man. Cabinet Card. Private Collection.

Ivorygraph. St. Johnsbury. Vermont. Boston. Young man. Cabinet Card. Private Collection.

A near pristine high contrast three-quarter portrait from circa 1880-90. I’m very pleased how well this cabinet card was preserved. Except for a couple of tiny scratches, it was carefully stored and looks amazing for its age. The cardstock is unblemished and still its original color: a lovely, clean shade of cream.

The back of the card is blank, and unfortunately this fresh faced budding gentleman with the Windsor tie wasn’t IDed.

Photographer: Ivorygraph. Hastings. 26 Eastern Avenue. St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Branch of 146 Tremont Street, Boston.


The boy with the bowler

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1/6th plate tintype. 1880s-90s teen with bowler in hand. Private Collection.

A mid-teens sitter with his bowler in hand.


Victorian man of Illinois

Cabinet card.

1880s-1890s Cabinet card.

The higher the collar, the higher you are in society…? :)

I picture him spending long evenings in the family library, in the flickering light of a gas lamp reading book after book and newspapers while debating politics over a glass of whiskey. What a proper, educated gentleman is supposed to do.


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.


Boston’s ‘one of the Alleys’

Cabinet card. Private Collection.

Hardy. Boston. Cabinet card. Private Collection.

A possible Victorian gang member? This hatted young man from the 1890s is described as “one of the Alleys” on the back of the card. It seems to me the writing was added later on, perhaps by someone who knew not who, but what the person was part of. Sounds like a gang name to me, and the fact this card was made in Boston adds to the possibility. Well, in any case this handsome gentleman in profile was dressed to impress, and that’s one stylish hat on his head.

“One of the Alleys”. Boston. Hardy back of cabinet card.

Photographer: Hardy. 493 Washington Street. Boston. MA.


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