General Tom Thumb – who’s the copy?

Tom Thumb and his Wife, by Masury
Tom Thumb and his Wife, by Masury

Here’s an interesting thing that happens when collecting 19th century images. Copyright law was somewhere between feeble and nonexistent in the second half of the 1800s. Photographers frequently ripped one another off, making copies of a very popular and successful image and re-selling them under their own name. Here I have two identical images, one on Masury’s logo, the other on Case & Getchell’s. It’s hard to tell who is the copyist and who is the original. Given the overall quality of both is quite high, it may be that one of them bought the negative from the other and reprinted the image legitimately.

Tom Thumb and his Wife, by Case and Getchell
Tom Thumb and his Wife, by Case and Getchell
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