I went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania today, as much to get out of the house while we still had nice weather (I think it was nearly 70F for the high today, even if a bit overcast!) as anything else. My parents had been up there a couple weeks ago, and told me about this one antiques shop that they thought was worth visiting. The shop not only had a much better than usual bin of “instant ancestors” (more on that in a minute), but they also had an amazing display of (surprisingly reasonably priced) other Civil War -era photos (dags, cased tins, and cased ambrotypes) and a veritable museum worth of vintage rifles, muskets, pistols, swords, cannonballs, uniforms and paraphernalia (canteens, insignia, and so on). I picked up a quartet of “instant ancestors”, and had my eye on three others that were in the box but not bargain priced. Over in the big glass display case with all the high-ticket cased images of identified soldiers both Union and Confederate, there was this occupational tintype, complete with embossed leather case:
Occupational Trio, Cased Tintype ca. 1865
I’m showing it here out of its case because I scanned the tintype on my flatbed scanner while I had the packet apart to clean the cover glass (some idiot decided to stick the price tag to the cover glass with cellophane tape that was not a “magic” residue-free tape). This one was a minor splurge as I’m trying to keep myself to a budget, but given the overall quality I felt it was well worth it.
As to the subject matter – does anyone have any idea what profession these gentlemen might have? My first thought was butcher, but they don’t seem to be wielding any butcher’s knives or have any of their product with them. My second thought went to baker, but again, no bread in the photo, and I’ve seen bakers before holding bread. Perhaps greengrocers? Shop clerks? The aprons are rather long for general store clerks, I think, but I’m not an expert on 19th century tradesmens uniforms.
Two more photos of my friend, Charles, in his friend Henry’s garden.
Charles, in the Garden
Charles, at the Garden Gate
Sometimes a portrait doesn’t even have to include the person it’s about. In this case, the design of the garden, including the whimsies and follies, speak volumes about the garden’s designer.
Iron Gate, Henry’s Garden
Rusted Toy, Henry’s Garden
All taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, on Fuji Reala film. The film is easily 11 years out of date, but still produces excellent results. I wish I had a couple of bricks more of it in cold storage, but Fuji discontinued the emulsion in all but 35mm size a couple years ago.
Danielle Ezzo makes beautiful salt prints. You should check out her work!
She has an upcoming show at Galerie Protege in New York, the opening is October 11.
Lovingly Distant, by Danielle Ezzo
A Sailor’s First Crossing of the Equator
Here is a vintage silver gelatin print of a sailor’s ritual head shaving on his first crossing of the equator. Note the “mermaid” in long blond wig administering the shaving, and the asian sailor restraining the recipient of the haircut. This must have been a merchant ship, possibly in the Pacific, pre- WW II. In any case, a fascinating snippet of nautical culture as seen from an insider’s perspective.
For your evening’s delectation, here is a nicely hand-colored CDV of an anonymous lady from Havana, Cuba. This is only the second CDV I have with an association with Cuba – I have a C.D. Fredericks that lists the Havana studio on the back mark, but is not necessarily taken there. In this case, Mr. B. Palmer, Artist, Havana is the only designation, so I must assume the photo was indeed taken in Havana. No street address is mentioned, which would be neat to have to be able to cross-check at some point in the future to see if his studio still stood. The entire backmark is in English, so I wonder if he catered to the tourist trade exclusively. The lady in the photo appears to be an adult, so I’ve called her Dama and not Señorita.
Dama De Havana, B. Palmer, Photographer
Here’s a pair of stereoviews of the scenery around Madison Square Park in New York City. They’re effectively a matched set because the one is a view of the Flatiron building looking south from Madison Square Park, and the other is looking up Broadway past Madison Square Park from the Flatiron. The Flatiron building is so-called because of its triangular shape which reminded people of the shape of a clothes iron. It is also one of the most iconic buildings in New York City, and one of the most photographed. It was the first “skyscraper” in New York, and while today it is almost petite in comparison to its uptown neighbors, it was a marvel of construction and engineering in its day.
The Flatiron, looking South from Broadway at Madison Square Park
Broadway, looking North from the Flatiron Building
I know- this was a terribly long time to wait to do something with these images – Thanksgiving was November of last year. No excuses will be offered. My parents and I have a tradition of going somewhere within a reasonable driving distance of home every year over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, usually anchored around visiting house museums. It started a couple years ago going to the Hagley Museum outside Wilmington, Delaware, and the Barnes Collection. Another year we went to see The Oatlands plantation outside Leesburg, Virginia. This trip we went to Charlottesville, Virginia to see Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, and Montpelier, James Madison’s home. We stayed a few miles away in a plantation home turned inn, Meander Plantation.
Home of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States. He drafted the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) from Montpelier. Like so many southern gentleman plantation owners, he was better at spending money than making it or managing his estate, so when he died, his wife was left with massive debts that she could little afford to pay, so she ended up having to sell off the lands and eventually the house as well. In the 20th century, Marion Scott Dupont owned the house, which had grown to quite a large edifice with 55 rooms. She bequeathed the house to the National Trust for Historic Preservation upon her death in 1983. In 2003, an effort was begun to return the house to the 22 rooms of James Madison’s time – the restoration was completed in 2008. Today, due to the trials and tribulations of time, the house is largely comprised of empty rooms, with the odd bit of furniture here and there as Madison’s original belongings were sold off and scattered to the four winds nearly two centuries ago. The remaining 2600 acres of the original estate are today devoted to an equestrian center, gardens and agricultural research.
The View from James Madison’s Library
The Blue Ridge Mountains, from Montpelier
Fence, Approaching the House, Montpelier
Fence Detail, Montpelier
Front Porch, Montpelier, from Madison’s Temple
You may be wondering why I’ve not included any images of the full front of the house. They take tour groups through in 10-15 minute intervals, and there were always groups of tourists on the front porch, and/or baby carriages and wheelchairs parked out front that were most un-photogenic.
After touring the house, you can visit the gardens that Marion Scott Dupont installed.
Walled Garden Entrance, Montpelier
Garden Lion, Montpelier
The gardens at that time of year present mostly boxwood hedges that aren’t terribly interesting without getting an aerial view. So you’ll have to suffice with the garden lion for now.
Exit, Walled Garden, Montpelier
The return path to the visitor center:
Lane to Visitor’s Center, Montpelier
The Duponts had a private rail line that came to Montpelier as Marion Scott Dupont’s father, William Dupont, worked in Washington DC and wanted to have easy access to work and home. The rail station still stands and is now a civil rights museum. Across the street is a well-preserved Esso station from the 1920s.
Montpelier Esso Station
Here are three stereoviews of China, taken in the first half-decade of the 20th century. These were produced by Keystone and Underwood & Underwood, two of the biggest producers of stereoviews. They both churned out thousands of these cards as fast as they could be supplied with new images of exotic locales, exotic being very broadly defined. This was foreign travel on the cheap, when it was not only more expensive but more time-consuming and more dangerous. The stereoview both broadened the horizons of their consumer and reinforced existing stereotypes of the day – note that the crowd on the steps in the rice paddy is “jeering natives” – they’re probably all wondering what that idiot gweiloh (white man) is doing putting his head under a blanket on the back of that funny box on the hill across the way.
Rice Paddies, Kiangsi
Ningpo Guild Hall
The Great Wall of China, Nankow Pass