This appears to be a 1903 Winton touring car. In doing some image searching, I came across a photo of the 1903 Winton that was driven by Horatio Nelson Jackson that seems to be very similar, with the exception of this being a four seater and Jackson’s being a two-seater. Would that this were a photo of Jackson’s car before he set out on his famous cross-country drive. In 1903 it took him 64 days to cross the US, including numerous breakdowns and delays from having to winch the car out of mud holes and over rocky terrain. His trek proved it could be done. By 1919, when Dwight Eisenhower did it with a military convoy of heavy trucks, it had been reduced to 29 days (average speed less than 6mph, and including 6 days of rest with no travel attempted).
With the chauffeur in the front seat, I guess you could consider this an occupational photo. Regardless, an awesome piece of early automotive history. Note the license plate with the number 1211. Could you imagine driving from Washington DC to San Francisco, a distance of some 3000 miles, in a car like this?
Here is a cabinet card from the mid 1890s of Lavinia Warren and the Magri Brothers (Baron Littlefinger and Count Rosebud). After Tom Thumb passed away in 1883, the widow Thumb met the Count and (his alleged twin brother) Baron Littlefinger. His real name was Primo Magri. She went on to marry him in July, 1885. They continued performing into old age to the point of appearing in a silent movie in 1915, five years before the Count’s death. Lavinia Warren died in 1919 at the approximate age of 77 (her birth date is unrecorded, so it is possible she was 78 at the time of her passing).
Frank (Francesco, Francisco) Lentini (May 18, 1881 – September 22, 1966) was born at Rosolini, near Syracuse, Sicily into a family of twelve children, seven sisters and five brothers.
He was born with three legs, two sets of genitals and one rudimentary foot growing from the knee of his third leg. So, in total, he had three legs, four feet, sixteen toes, and two sets of functioning male genitals, which were all that existed of a conjoined twin and jutted from the right side of his body. The doctors determined that since his twin was connected to his spine, removal could have resulted in paralysis. When his parents refused to acknowledge him, his aunt raised him but eventually handed him over to a home for disabled children. As a child Lentini had hated his extra body parts until he spent time at the home. There, he met children who were deaf, blind, and mute. He also learned to walk, ice skate, and jump rope.
At the age of eight, Lentini moved to the U.S. and entered the sideshow business as The Great Lentini, joining the Ringling Brothers Circus act. He gained US citizenship at the age of 30. His career spanned over forty years and he worked with every major circus and sideshow including Barnum and Bailey and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Lentini was so respected among his peers that he was often simply called “The King”.
In his youth, Lentini used his extraordinary third leg to kick a soccer ball across the stage, hence his show name, the Three-Legged Football Player. By the time he was six, Lentini’s normal legs were slightly different in length–one was 39 inches, the other 38 inches–but the third leg was only 36 inches, and the foot on it was clubbed. Even more as an adult, while his extra leg was several inches shorter than the others, his primary legs were also two different lengths. He was heard to complain that even with three legs, he still didn’t have a pair. He married Theresa Murray, three years younger than him, and they had four children: Josephine, Natale, Frank and James. Frank Lentini died in Jacksonville, Florida on 22 September 1966.
Over on The Human Marvels, there’s a wonderful discussion thread below a photo of Frank in which a number of his descendants/probable descendants have chimed in with questions and reminiscences. It’s well worth a read.
Here’s another cabinet card, this time from Kearney, Nebraska (which I’ve actually been to before, on my cross-country drive from DC to San Francisco). These boys are obviously from a family which had assimilated to Anglo culture. It would be interesting to try and illustrate the divergence between assimilation and resistance through photographs like this. Too bad there’s not a date on the card to help with the process.
This is a cabinet card by J. Gurney & Sons of a midget actor in full theatrical costume. I wish I knew the identity of the actor. He must have been famous in the day, because he had Gurney photograph him. Going to Gurney would be somewhat akin to having Richard Avedon or Annie Liebowitz photograph you today. Well, maybe not Richard Avedon, as he’s dead now. But you get the idea.
In my online shopping peregrinations, I came across another Nellie Keeler CDV, so of course I had to add the second varietal to my collection. The captions have it that these are one year apart. Who knows the truth of such things, as so many facts about the circus freak sideshow performers were grossly exaggerated for dramatic effect.
Here is the first one I collected, for comparison:
And somewhat ironically, here is a larger size (roughly 5×7) Cabinet Card of a much larger woman, seated in front of the same dining room sideboard on which Nellie Keeler is posing. When I saw that, I had to grab it just for that cool factor of coincidence. I’d read a lot about how work of battlefield photographers could be connected if not identified by the use of the same backdrops, furniture and even prop weapons/uniforms in Civil War tintypes. While not exactly the same thing, this is my first instance of finding the same props in two different photos of two VERY different subjects by the same photographer.
And last but not least (well, maybe least, based on the factoids on the front of the card) is Admiral Dot – yet another Barnum embellishment with an exalted military rank for someone of restrained stature. A contemporary of General Tom Thumb, Commodore Nutt, Major Atom, Count Rosebud and Baron Littlefinger, he also performed in sideshows.
As the photographer is not credited, it may well have been one of the lesser-known New York studios specializing in the theatrical trade who was able to work a deal with Anthony to distribute their cards.
Sometimes the reason you buy something is purely aesthetic – there doesn’t need to be an historical association, famous subject or famous photographer to make an image worth buying. This is an example of just that – a very handsome subject, simply captured, plainly presented. Is he part Native American? Hard to say, but he has a certain look about his nose and jawline.
This is an example, as I mentioned, of a carte-sized Cabinet Card. It is the same dimensions (2 1/2 x 4 1/2) as a carte de visite, but is printed on the heavier card stock with the beveled, gilt edges and the larger front imprint of the photographer’s logo typical of the Cabinet Card. Because of the style, I would definitely call this a Cabinet Card, and not a CDV, because the time period of its creation is definitely later, as are the material conditions of its composition.
I went to the DC Antique Photo Show today. The show took up three meeting rooms at the Holiday Inn Rosslyn. Two smaller rooms were devoted to postcard collectors, and the much larger main room was strictly photographic images. I toured the entire show, but got a bit lost in the detail with the postcard dealers – there’s just way too much material to look through! My intent was to try and hunt down a couple stereoviews for my set of Lehigh Valley Railroad stereoviews, but that thought quickly went out the window when it could have taken the entire day to just sift through the stereoviews of just two or three vendors.
I did find something pretty cute and nifty though – a woman there, the mother of one of the Civil War image vendors, was making and selling (very cheaply) little fabric pouches for storing cased images. I bought four to cover my thermoplastic cased daguerreotypes. The pouches are made of color-fast fabric (it feels like a good-quality felt). The 1/6 plate size are $1.50 each – if you’re interested, let me know and I can send you the lady’s email. I won’t post it here, out of respect for her, so she doesn’t get bombarded by spammers.
In the main room is where I got in trouble. It started with a book – “Shooting Soldiers” by Dr. Stanley Burns. The book is about the history of medical photography during the Civil War. Dr. Burns is a SERIOUS collector of antique images, and has amassed an astounding collection of Civil War period medical images, among other topics. The images in the book are from his collection. He himself was there at the show, and autographed the book for me.
Across the way there was a booth selling native american images, and CDVs. Would that my budget could have stretched this much, but alas, the Alexander Gardner CDV of Vice President (and later President) Andrew Johnson was not to leave the show in my hands. I did acquire a nice period CDV of two musicians, one seated, the other standing, holding his violin.
The vendor indicated that the duo was famous in their day. When I asked who they were, he didn’t know either, but acted as if I should somehow know myself! Sorry, but I haven’t kept up on mid-19th century performers. Have you? If someone out there in collector-land does recognize them and can pass it on, it would be much appreciated!
At another booth I found a neat addition to my circus freaks collection – another midget, Major Atom! And it gave me yet another address for one of my New York studios to put on my map – Chas. Eisenmann, “The Popular Photographer”. I love the advertising slogans these photographers came up with – it’s a little window on the Victorian era mindset.
I found a famous Native American cabinet card – “Rain-in-the-face”, taken at Morse’s Palace of Fine Art in San Francisco. Rain-in-the-face was a cohort of Sitting Bull, a war chief of the Hunkpapa Sioux. He was one of the warriors responsible for Custer’s defeat. It’s a beautiful image, and although the card is damaged, the damage doesn’t significantly detract from the quality of the portrait.
Well, if I got me an Indian, I had to get me a Cowboy! This one is looking just a little bit gay.
I have no idea if in fact he was gay, but by 21st century sensibilities, he’s a little too well put together, he’s gripping his pistol in an oh-so-suggestive manner, and those chaps!
I must put in a plug for someone at the show – he was not only a vendor of antique images, he’s also a modern-day Daguerreotypist himself. Casey Waters does modern daguerreotypes using mercury development, which by itself is cool because it’s the REAL way to make a daguerreotype. But even cooler, among other things, he’s done night-time daguerreotypes – I pity his car’s battery because I can’t imagine how long the headlights had to be on in order to record the image on the plate.
To check out his work, you can visit Casey Waters Daguerreotypes (the night-time daguerreotypes are nine rows down from the top of the page, on the left and center columns).
Last but not least, there was a Tom Bianchi print I picked up. There is a little damage to the print (which I touched up in the scan), which is why I was able to get it so cheap. It’s also marked as 4/5 Artists Proofs. Which means that Tom Bianchi gave it away to someone, it wasn’t sold commercially. The damage is minor, and easily repairable, so I may actually try to retouch it myself.