Friday, August 11, 2017

THOSE CABINETS....

In the infamous liquor boxes I’ve got stashed in the upstairs closet, there must be fifty or so of those wonderful cabinet shots—those stiff, cardboard photographs of some of my stiff ancestors posed in various photographic studios. I love the props—the chairs and tables, the fences and sofas—that those photographers used to set up the shots; the curtained backdrops are dead giveaways, aren’t they?
          At any rate, I’ve been looking at the cabinet cards themselves, especially the photographers’ imprints on the bottom front (and/or back): logo, address, etc.
          Some of them are just wonderful…








…two front imprints from the studios of Chickering (on West Street in Boston) and one from Benjamin Freeman in Somerville, both from the 1880s…










…and here’s a backside imprint from A.R. Fowler in Meadville, Pennsylvania (my paternal grandmother came from there…).
          Look at the flowers!!!













Here’s the backside of a portrait of Emma Tidd, a friend of my great-grandmother’s, taken by P.H. Rose. He was a very successful photographer in Providence, Rhode Island; his studio was in the Conrad building (see illustration) on Westminster Street.








I’ve got a cabinet shot of my grandfather, William Wescott Howell, taken in 1884 in Boston at the Ritz & Hastings studio on Tremont Street. On the backside, there’s a fancy imprint for the business, and a lengthy inscription written by my great-grandfather on the occasion.




For those of you who don’t wish to stand on your heads, the inscription reads:
Given to his papa with a kiss one Sunday night in the Library at Ingleside, Dec. 21st, 1884. Willie was 11 years & from June 23rd to Dec. 6th Will weighed         Heighth 4 feet 11 ½ inches. The picture was taken in Boston Dec. 6th, 1884 on Saturday when we had gone down for the lesson on Violin.


          That might be more than we need to know, but I’m awfully glad to know his “heighth.”

8 comments:

  1. Ah ha, an entire post about the backs of studio photos! This must be a first! Well, if not, it's certainly entertaining.

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    1. It was the only connection I could find to the Sepia Saturday post!

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  2. yes....those logos/imprints have a certain beauty & grace. Funny how they often tend to go unnoticed,yet they can tell us as much about the flavour + style of time as the very photograph itself.

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    1. You're right,Tony. I never paid much attention to them until the Sepia post...and saw how great that logo was. Now I'm obsessing...

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  3. Well you were truly thinking "outside the box" for this most recent Sepia Saturday post! Good show!!!

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    1. I simply didn't have anything that clicked with the photo...good thing I had some good logos kicking around!

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  4. It's always so nice to find a cabinet card with the decorated verso. You've got some really nice ones here. I've always wondered how original they are or, like fruit crate labels, are they modified for each photographer.

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    1. I think you hit it with the "fruit cake" labels--for smalltown photographers, that is. But the big town ones (Boston, Chicago, Washington, etc) oftentimes had sketches of their buildings included!

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