ca. 1860-70’s, [tintype portrait of two women posed with a camera box]
via Cowan’s Auctions

ca. 1860-70’s, [tintype portrait of two women posed with a camera box]

via Cowan’s Auctions

ca. 1858, [post mortem ambrotype portrait of a young boy surrounded by flowers]
via Christopher Wahren Fine Photographs, Skylight Gallery

ca. 1858, [post mortem ambrotype portrait of a young boy surrounded by flowers]

via Christopher Wahren Fine Photographs, Skylight Gallery

ca. 1855-95, [carte de visite, “E pluribus unum branch. Fifty pears on a branch eight inches long, weighing nineteen lbs. Raised in Bruggs’ Orchard, Marysville, Cal”], Amasa Park Johnston
via the Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Carl Mautz Collection

ca. 1855-95, [carte de visite, “E pluribus unum branch. Fifty pears on a branch eight inches long, weighing nineteen lbs. Raised in Bruggs’ Orchard, Marysville, Cal”], Amasa Park Johnston

via the Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Carl Mautz Collection

ca. 1850’s, [daguerreotype portrait of a gentleman with flowers painted on plate in wreath motif over his head]
via the Daguerreian Society, Greg French Collection

ca. 1850’s, [daguerreotype portrait of a gentleman with flowers painted on plate in wreath motif over his head]

via the Daguerreian Society, Greg French Collection

ca. 1870-1900, [cabinet card, outdoor portrait of two women reading a map against a tree, with an unusual tandem tricycle parked nearby]
via Stereographica, Antique Photographica

ca. 1870-1900, [cabinet card, outdoor portrait of two women reading a map against a tree, with an unusual tandem tricycle parked nearby]

via Stereographica, Antique Photographica

ca. 1860’s, [tintype portrait of a Union infantryman with regulation uniform]
via Heritage Auctions

ca. 1860’s, [tintype portrait of a Union infantryman with regulation uniform]

via Heritage Auctions

ca. 1860’s-80’s, [tintype occupational portrait of two butchers wielding knives]
via Cowan’s Auctions

ca. 1860’s-80’s, [tintype occupational portrait of two butchers wielding knives]

via Cowan’s Auctions

ca. 1860’s, [tintype portrait of Gilbert Dalziel], W.C. Honey
via the National Portrait Gallery in London

ca. 1860’s, [tintype portrait of Gilbert Dalziel], W.C. Honey

via the National Portrait Gallery in London

ca. 1882, [carte de visite portrait of “Illavaro the Egyptian”, at age 19], Charles Eisenmann
via the International Center of Photography

ca. 1882, [carte de visite portrait of “Illavaro the Egyptian”, at age 19], Charles Eisenmann

via the International Center of Photography

ca. 1860’s, [ambrotype portrait of a bright-eyed woman playing her fiddle]
via Christopher Wahren Fine Photographs

ca. 1860’s, [ambrotype portrait of a bright-eyed woman playing her fiddle]

via Christopher Wahren Fine Photographs

ca. 1850-60, [portrait of a lady with a spirit and daisies]
via A Diamond Fell From the Sky, Flickr

ca. 1850-60, [portrait of a lady with a spirit and daisies]

via A Diamond Fell From the Sky, Flickr

ca. 1855-95, [carte de visite portrait of two circus performers], Bradley & Rulofson
via the Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Carl Mautz Collection

ca. 1855-95, [carte de visite portrait of two circus performers], Bradley & Rulofson

via the Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Carl Mautz Collection

ca. 1840-60, [daguerreotype portrait of a gentleman with a curious expression and a neck beard]
via Harvard University’s Houghton Library, Department of Printing and Graphic Art, Harrison D. Horblit Collection of Early Photography

ca. 1840-60, [daguerreotype portrait of a gentleman with a curious expression and a neck beard]

via Harvard University’s Houghton Library, Department of Printing and Graphic Art, Harrison D. Horblit Collection of Early Photography

ca. 1880-1910, [tintype portrait of two western gentlemen playing chess, with a dog, more likely a taxidermied coyote or wolf, at their feet], Voss
via Jeffrey Kraus, Antique Photographs

ca. 1880-1910, [tintype portrait of two western gentlemen playing chess, with a dog, more likely a taxidermied coyote or wolf, at their feet], Voss

via Jeffrey Kraus, Antique Photographs

ca. 1863, “Before the Proclamation; After the Proclamation”, Morse & Peaslee

These two parodic cartes-de-visite, made by the Morse & Peaslee studio in Nashville, Tennessee, present an extremely simplified story of the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 through the figure of a single black boy. The boy most likely did not know how his image would be used, and the photographer probably staged the photographs by asking the boy to use different facial expressions. “Before the Proclamation,” the boy looks slack-jawed and melancholy; “After the Proclamation,” he wears a broad grin that verges on a leer. While the audience for these cartes-de-visite is not clear, the elements of caricature suggest that together they form a derisive commentary on newly freed slaves, as well as a reflection of white anxiety over the consequences of the Proclamation. Ironically, because Tennessee had been under Union control since early 1862, the Proclamation-which liberated slaves only in actively rebellious states-did not apply there. Nonetheless, Nashville felt the effects of the Proclamation, which destabilized the institution of slavery even where it did not abolish it. Slaves in Tennessee abandoned the plantations in large numbers…by early 1864. 

via the International Center of Photography

ca. 1863, “Before the Proclamation; After the Proclamation”, Morse & Peaslee

These two parodic cartes-de-visite, made by the Morse & Peaslee studio in Nashville, Tennessee, present an extremely simplified story of the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 through the figure of a single black boy. The boy most likely did not know how his image would be used, and the photographer probably staged the photographs by asking the boy to use different facial expressions. “Before the Proclamation,” the boy looks slack-jawed and melancholy; “After the Proclamation,” he wears a broad grin that verges on a leer. While the audience for these cartes-de-visite is not clear, the elements of caricature suggest that together they form a derisive commentary on newly freed slaves, as well as a reflection of white anxiety over the consequences of the Proclamation. Ironically, because Tennessee had been under Union control since early 1862, the Proclamation-which liberated slaves only in actively rebellious states-did not apply there. Nonetheless, Nashville felt the effects of the Proclamation, which destabilized the institution of slavery even where it did not abolish it. Slaves in Tennessee abandoned the plantations in large numbers…by early 1864.

via the International Center of Photography

"Until the handkerchief of history covers us with its Times New Roman black and white post script..."

This blog is a collection of vernacular photography and ephemera focused mainly within the curious and often misunderstood realm of 19th century America. I have a soft spot for all things silly, antiquated, macabre, and grotesque. The content is from a variety of collections; public, academic, and private. In addition, there's an occasional emphasis on Ulysses S Grant and the Civil War, as well.

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Browse by Photograph Type: Tintypes, Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, Carte de visites, Albumen prints, Cabinet cards, Silver prints

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