Tom Thumb & Lavinia Warren – Walzl, Photographer, Baltimore
Here’s a photo of Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, NOT by Mathew Brady, Gurney & Sons, Eisenmann or C.D. Fredericks. I’ve seen a few by the other photographers, but the Brady ones are the most common. This is cool to me as it shows them being photographed in other cities as they toured – celebrity culture is not a new thing, but at least back in that day, technology largely excluded the possibility of ambush paparazzi.
Funny story about that though – back when the White House did not have a secure perimeter with heavily armed guards, one of Abraham Lincoln’s boys was out playing in the yard. An enterprising and rather self-assured photographer approached the boy and talked him in to sitting for some pictures, and then sent him inside to get his dad to pay. Needless to say, Mr. Lincoln was NOT happy about this, and came out to confront the photographer. The photographer consented to not charge Mr. Lincoln if he would sit for a few himself, which he grudgingly did. Try doing that to the first family today!
Tony Lowande, Midget Acrobat
Mr. Lowande doesn’t look particularly happy to be having his picture taken. But that combination of tights and skirt not only look uncomfortable, I suspect wearing them outside the carnival tent would tend to challenge the masculinity of all but the most self-confident of men. This CDV is probably by D.J. Wilkes of Baltimore – although there is no identification on this card, the image is identical in all but pose (same outfit, same props) to another one I found online with the photographer’s imprint. I’m having a devil of a time finding more specific information about Mr. Lowande – most of the references I find for that name refer to an equestrian performer (that may be the same Tony Lowande, but I’m not sure), and the dates would seem to be later (that Tony Lowande was born in 1869 according to Olympians of the Sawdust Circle) and part of a famous family of Brazilian-American circus performers. Or it could be just that everything else about the photo aside from the name and photographer’s ID is wrong – Tony Lowande might just have been a five year old boy in this photo, and not a midget. I could also not find any reference to Siegrist’s Midgets, but that doesn’t mean anything per se.
Here’s a fun little trio of cartes-de-visite, showing the same sitter what looks to be covering a span of 20 or more years. In the first one, Mr. S.W. Phillips of Baltimore appears youthful. In the second one, the card-mounted tintype, a bit older, sporting a rather tall top hat. And in the third photo, a definitely older Mr. Phillips has lost not only his hat but his hair.
Young Mr. Phillips
Middle-age Mr. Phillips
Senior Mr. Phillips
I had to fight to keep all three together – the image with the top hat was of much interest to other buyers. I was willing to go a little over what I’d wanted to spend to keep the set, as I thought it would be a real shame for the other two to get separated where they’d linger in someone’s $5 box, unloved, unwanted and without context. As an erstwhile photo historian, all too often these kinds of things get lost because someone removes the context for the sake of the value of a single item.
On a separate note, almost totally unrelated to the rest of this post, sometimes I wish I had enough info to start a Baltimore photo map like my New York, DC and Philadelphia maps. I’m certain that there were many photographers there in the 19th century, as Baltimore was a much more important city at that time and a major hub of commerce and industry. Perhaps this can be a start – the Edkins Gallery at 103 Baltimore Street. If anyone out there in blog-land has studio addresses for Baltimore Victorian photo parlors, I’d love to have them so I can start the map!