A Brady CDV from the Washington DC Studio, and a Fredericks CDV from ¿Havana?

Two more CDVs – a Brady from the DC studio, and judging by the backmark style, a later (post Civil War) image. The sitter is reputed to be named John Randolph, one of the FitzRandolphs of Philadelphia (or could it be the FitzRandolphs who gave the original land grant to found Princeton University?). Evidence is unclear, but the picture is very.

John Randolph, by Mathew Brady
John Randolph, by Mathew Brady

The second CD is from the Fredericks studio, of New York, Havana and Paris. As the subject is toreadors, I’m guessing this was taken at either the Paris or Havana studios. Bullfighting has never had any serious following in the United States, so toreadors would be unlikely to come to New York on a performing tour of the US. I thought I had another Fredericks CDV somewhere in my collection, but I’ll be damned if I can find it – I may have just recorded the address on my New York studio map during a scan of studio backmarks on eBay.

Two Toreadors, by Fredericks of New York, Havana and Paris
Two Toreadors, by Fredericks of New York, Havana and Paris

This is another image that could have been marketed as “gay interest”, thankfully it wasn’t. Despite their costumes and matching fey poses, there’s nothing about them that shouts (or whispers) 19th century code for gay. Pure 21st century wishful thinking.

7 thoughts on “A Brady CDV from the Washington DC Studio, and a Fredericks CDV from ¿Havana?”

  1. Great photos! I would have guessed that the toreador photo is from the New York branch because of the United States Revenue Stamp, but I could be wrong. Perhaps instead of actual bullfighters they were something like circus performers or dancers? I really don’t know, but it’s fun to speculate. 🙂

    1. I think all the revenue stamp does is prove that it was sold in the US – it could well have been taken in the Havana studio. But again, there’s no proof beyond what we have in the image itself of anything – the ‘toreadors’ are not named, and the card not dated, so they could be dancers or acrobats in toreador costumes. They could even have been sideshow performers!

      1. Oh, good point, I don’t know why I was forgetting that retail photos weren’t necessarily sold by the photographer. It’s possible that our toreadors here (whether they’re actual bullfighters or trapeze artists or something) had a bunch of their photos done up in bulk in their native France or Cuba and brought them to sell as they toured the U.S. I wonder (and I really have no idea) if it was even possible to pose for the photo at home and get them reproduced once they reached New York. I’m sure they wouldn’t have been given the negative, but perhaps a clean copy for reproduction, along with a letter/receipt of money already paid at the original branch? I wonder how something like that might have worked back then, if at all.

      2. Given who this photographer was, I’m fairly confident that this photo was in fact taken by Fredericks in his studio. But as a general principle, you’re right. Copyright in the 1800s was a much more fluid thing, and people didn’t respect it the same way. In O. Henry Mace’s “Collectors Guide to Early Photographs” (which I highly recommend) he talks about how it was common for photographers to copy other people’s photos of celebrities, but usually they did not put their own back-stamps on the CDVs if they did. This image definitely has the Fredericks backstamp, so it most likely originated in his studio.

  2. Sorry I wasn’t clear, I didn’t mean to suggest Fredericks was engaged in copyright violation. I was wondering if there might be some arrangement by which a photo taken at Fredericks of Paris might be reproduced by Fredericks of New York. If so, such an international presence by the photographer might be part of what motivated these toreadors to do business with Fredericks in the first place, if they anticipated a need for photo reproduction while touring. Such an arrangement would be easy enough today, but I don’t know how something like that might have been set up then, if at all. Thanks for the book recommendation! I’m very much enjoying your blog!

    1. Back then, copyright, especially international copyright, was much harder to enforce. As to the question of choosing a photo salon for its international presence, that’s an interesting question – I don’t know if anyone did that. I think that people in general wouldn’t choose a studio based on a multi-city presence because the logistics of the day would render that advantage irrelevant. The time in transit from New York to Paris was the same for the negative for the carte-de-visite as it would be for the sitters. And at that point, why not just have a new picture taken, as it would realistically not take any longer than delivering the negative to the studio for them to reprint.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. It’s nice to have people appreciate what I’m doing with it. It’s a catalog of my collection for me, a chance to connect with other like-minded photography enthusiasts and a way to pass along what knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated.

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