Tag Archives: Mathew Brady

Barbara Freitchie (Fritchie), by Mathew Brady

I’ve seen her name spelled Fritchie (there was a local chain of pancake houses in the Northern Maryland/Southern Pennsylvania area called Barbara Fritchie’s Waffle House. We had one on Main Street in Chambersburg, PA when I was growing up. I think it’s still there, and still has a 1930s/40s decor. I need to get up there and photograph it before they renovate and/or close it down and convert it into a Starbucks or something). The story, as rather floridly recounted in the poem on the carte, is that she was a 90 year old widow, living in Frederick, Maryland. Stonewall Jackson’s troops were marching through Frederick and saw the Union flag flying above her house. They shot it down, but she retrieved it and continued to wave it out her window. Stonewall Jackson was so moved by her devoted patriotism (even if for the other side) that he ordered his men to leave it and her alone.

Barbara Freitchie, by Mathew Brady
Barbara Freitchie, by Mathew Brady

There are variations on her story – I’ve seen her age listed anywhere between 90 and 95. The spelling of her name is inconsistent.

The photo, by Mathew Brady, was printed up with the John Greenleaf Whittier poem. The photo is not actually by Brady – that is to say, it is a copy of an existing daguerreotype of Barbara Fritchie, made by Brady. She never sat for him, because by the time the poem was written and the carte de visite created, she had been dead over a year. According to Wikipedia, the whole incident that inspired the poem never actually happened, as Jackson’s troops never marched up her street, but in fact were almost a quarter mile away:

The flag incident in the poem likely never occurred, however, as Barbara Fritchie was sick in bed that day. She told the housekeeper to hide all valuables to prevent looting, and to take in the U.S. flag that hung outside, but it was never moved, and as a result was shot up by the Confederate troops. Accounts differ as to how the legend that inspired the poem arose. The flag, a symbol of the need for myth in times of war, may be seen in the Barbara Fritchie House and Museum.
History disproves the poem with the fact that the Confederate troops never passed by her house. Although they were within range of sight, they would only have been heard by Mrs. Fritchie if they had yelled to her at the top of their lungs.
The troops marched south on Bentz Street and turned west on Patrick Street. To have passed Barbara Fritchie’s house, they would have needed to turn east and march a minimum of 1000 feet to have been at her door.
The woman who inspired the poem, and who was brandishing the flag in front of the Confederate troops, was actually Mary Quantrell who lived on Patrick Street.

In 1899, John Greenleaf Whittier was quoted in a New York Times article based on a letter he wrote to the Frederick Examiner shortly before his death, vouching that he had no knowledge that the Barbara Fritchie incident was a hoax.
What Whittier Knew

The Brady image was made to sell at the Great Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia in 1864. Sanitary Fairs

…were civilian-organized bazaars and expositions dedicated to raising funds on behalf of the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) and other charitable relief organizations. Over the course of the Civil War, they became one of the most popular means of fundraising for the Union cause.
from Philadelphiaencyclopedia.org

The name sounds somewhat misleading today in that it lends the aura of having something to do with bathing the participants. In fact, they were about protecting the health and welfare of soldiers in the field. the US Sanitary Commission was a relief organization, analagous to the Red Cross, that provided everything from bandages to nurses to food in the camps, and did what they could to enforce healthy living conditions for soldiers and the wounded in hospitals.

Suzie Reed, one of Barnum’s Little People

Miss Suzie Reed, by Brady
Miss Suzie Reed, by Brady

Here is a CDV of Suzie Reed, another one of Barnum’s Little People. The image is by Brady, even though the backmark just says E. & H.T. Anthony. The image is documented in the Meserve Collection, which was a collection of Brady images assembled by Frederick Hill Meserve that ended up being one of the largest repositories of Brady’s work not held in a museum. Another notable hallmark is the “reaper” clock, which made a regular if infrequent appearance (there are some 60 known images by Brady featuring the clock, but more may exist in the negatives as the clock may have been cropped out of the final prints). There’s a great article about the clock online – Bob Frishman’s Story of the Brady ‘Reaper’ Clock.

Pleasant Valley Winery, by Mathew Brady, New York

Pleasant Valley Winery
Pleasant Valley Winery

This is not a recent acquisition, but something I’ve had in the collection for a while, before I started blogging about my collection. So here it is – the Pleasant Valley Winery in Hammondsport, NY – the first bonded winery in the US. It’s hard to say if this would have been done by Mathew Brady himself or one of his assistants. The winery opened in 1860, so this would have been done during the Civil War. The client would have been a big enough deal that you’d think Brady would have done it himself, but he was also busy enough with his studios in DC and New York, servicing high-profile clients, and doing some battlefield photography around Washington DC, it would be hard for him to have taken the two to three days it would have required for him to run out there by train (assuming there was a rail connection to Hammondsport from New York City, it would be entirely likely in 1860 that he had to change trains at least once, and quite possibly more, using railroads that topped out at 30-35 miles per hour. Today, following the likely rail route from New York City to Albany, then west to Hammondsport, it is over 375 miles and takes 6 1/4 hours on interstate highways).

Anonymous CDV, by Hanson, Chittenango, NY

Anonymous, by Hanson, Chittenango, NY
Anonymous, by Hanson, Chittenango, NY

The CDV itself is rather unremarkable – in average condition, anonymous subject. What caught my attention, though, was the notation by Mr. Hanson in the lower left of the verso – “Formerly with Brady, New York”. This is the first CDV I’ve seen where the photographer marketed himself as having worked for the celebrated master, Mathew Brady. I don’t know if any of Brady’s other camera operators/studio assistants ever marketed themselves this way, but it’s a fascinating find.

Anonymous Couple, Mathew Brady Studio, NY, 1870s

An anonymous couple by Brady’s New York studio (if the backmark follows the formula I’ve interpolated, this is from the NY studio because it is listed first). The carte itself is in immaculate condition, and this is another variation on the studio imprint. Brady seems to have changed his often, unlike others (Fredricks, Gurney, Bogardus, Eisenmann) whose imprints remained largely unchanged throughout their studio operations.

Anonymous Couple, Brady's New York Studio
Anonymous Couple, Brady’s New York Studio

Anonymous Gentleman, by Brady’s Washington DC studio

Anonymous Gentleman, by Brady
Anonymous Gentleman, by Brady

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you know by now of my interest in images by Mathew Brady’s Washington DC studio. Here is another gem, in near perfect original condition. The sitter is anonymous.

I’ve seen enough of Brady’s CDVs now that I’ve noticed a pattern in the labeling – if you want to tell which studio produced the image, first look at the front – if it says Washington or New York on the front, that’s a 100 % guarantee of where it was taken. If it is not labeled on the front, look at the photographer’s imprint on the verso. The studio that produced it will be listed first: a Washington DC portrait will say “No. 352 Pennsylvania Av., Washington DC & New York”, whereas a New York portrait will say “Broadway & 10th Street, New York, & 352 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC”. Strangely, the Washington DC ones often list only “New York” as the second address, if they list it at all (I have seen it all three ways,”Broadway & 10th”, “New York” and no second address), but the New York ones seem to always list the full “352 Pennsylvania Avenue” as the second address. This of course does not take into account the E&HT Anthony CDVs, which do not list any Brady studio address, but rather state “Published by E & HT Anthony, 501 Broadway, New York” very prominently, and then include the following variations:

  • From Photographic Negative by Brady
  • From Photographic Negative in Brady’s National Portrait Gallery
  • Manufacturers of Photographic Albums
  • No Brady attribution or mention of photographic albums

I guess it makes sense for Anthony to plug the albums on the backs of CDVs, but they made a full range of photographic supplies from albums to chemistry and cameras. The name lived on in various forms for well over a century – they merged with Scovill around the turn of the 20th century and formed Ansco (ANthony & SCOvill), which then partnered with Agfa in the US to become Agfa-Ansco.

Yet More Little People

Unknown Little Person, H.B. Gerncore's Temple of Art
Unknown Little Person, H.B. Gerncore’s Temple of Art

I’ve had a devil of a time trying to decipher the photographer’s name on the back – the best I can tell is it’s either H.B. Gerncore or H.L. Ger-something-something. In any case, it’s a beautiful photo of a strikingly proportionate little person. I’m frankly not even entirely sure he’s a little person and not just a pre-teen in a well-tailored suit. But the top hat and tails make it more likely he’s an adult sideshow or circus performer.

The Strattons, George Nutt and Minnie Warren in their Tuilieries outfits
The Strattons, George Nutt and Minnie Warren in their Tuilieries outfits

Here’s yet another photo of Tom Thumb and company, this time in the outfits they wore to meet Napoleon III. Also an Anthony print, with the facsimile signatures on the back. Again no attribution of the photographer, so while it is possible it’s a Brady, it’s likely not. Notice the hand-coloring of the women’s garlands and the men’s watch chains.