Well, I don’t know if she ever sang, or if she had any kind of performance at all. But her name was Madame Sherwood, and according to the bio on her CDV, she had an 84″ waist and was 675 lbs. Given the Victorian (and specifically Barnum-esque) penchant for exaggeration, I wouldn’t be surprised if she was more like a 60″ waist and 400 lbs but you never know. This CDV has been trimmed, rather significantly, but again this doesn’t detract from the image so I don’t find it terribly objectionable. It definitely impacted the value of the card, but I was not unhappy with the price paid. This is another C.D. Fredericks image. The simplicity of the backstamp not only in terms of the design but also the pomposity (or lack thereof) of the advertising slogan leads to some confusing dating for the image, as “Specialité” was his slogan in the 1850s and 60s, but the subject would have this date from the early to mid 1870s. Fredericks was another New York photographer who, like Gurney (whom he studied under and worked for for a time) and Eisenmann, did significant trade with the theatrical and performing professions.
For more information about C.D. Fredericks, there is a succinct but interesting blurb at Historic Camera
I suppose in a way you could term all these circus freak photos as also being occupationals in that they do show the sitters enacting their profession, which in a way was merely existing as who they were. It’s not like it mattered what outfit Tom Thumb or Madame Sherwood or Isaac Sprague (the Human Skeleton) wore, they were not performing a role, and even if they did, their audience was not coming to see them be Hamlet or Viola or Caliban, but to see the midget/fat lady/human skeleton.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve found some more photographers to add to the map of New York. Again, you’ve got to love some of these self-descriptions of their businesses. Also interesting is the case of C.D. Fredericks, who ran studios in New York, Paris and Havana. Makes you wonder how he managed three studios in such far-flung cities at a time where steam-powered trans-atlantic crossings were just coming in to being, there was no telephone, and the airplane was still an opium-smoker’s dream.
I’ve reorganized the list in geographic order, with the assorted Lower Manhattan addresses first, then the ascent of Broadway, followed by the odds and outliers, including one in Brooklyn.
DATES OF OPERATION
152 Chatham Street *
164 Chatham Street *
#2 New Chambers Street, corner of Chatham *
E. Houston & Essex Streets
Bailey’s Photograph Gallery
371 Canal Street
O.O. Roorbach, Publisher of Dramatic Photographs
122 Nassau Street
643 Bleeker Street
Jaquith, Daguerrian Parlor
S.A. Holmes, Daguerreotype Studio
Josiah Thompson, Daguerreotypist
J. Gurney & Sons, Daguerreotype Studio
unknown – early
E. Anthony, Publisher, Brady’s National Portrait Gallery
W.C. Wemyss, Dealer in Photographs, Books, &c.
C.D. Fredericks & Co 587 Broadway, New York 31 Passage du Havre, Paris 108 Calle de la Habana, Havana
Anson’s Daguerreotype Gallery
unknown – 1850s
Chas. K. Bill
J. Gurney & Sons
unknown – mid
T.J. Maujer, Passepartout & Carved Walnut frame manufacturer, Dealer in Photographs, Artist’s Materials, &c.
953 Broadway & 183 5th Avenue
J. Gurney & Sons
5th Avenue & 16th Street
unknown – late
Loud’s Celebrated Album Cards
145 8th Avenue
379 Fulton Street, Brooklyn
* addresses no longer exist. New Chambers Street & Chatham Street are now approximately where New York City Civic Center and Police Headquarters are now located.