Three recent acquisitions, after a long hiatus from collecting. All in the circus freak genre. The first is my second image of General Cardenas, a famous little person and contemporary of Tom Thumb.
This next image is of Martin Van Buren Bates, a famous giant. Very much like with little people, the Victorians were quite fond of attaching fake military titles to giants and dressing them up in uniforms. I can’t tell if the signature on the verso is Van Buren’s or if it is someone else’s later notation. This is most likely a rip-off of another photographer’s image, bought on the east coast and reproduced without credit. This was an incredibly huge problem in the Victorian era, when it was very easy to sell copies elsewhere in the country without ever coming to the knowledge of the original photographer.
IF the signature is indeed Van Buren Bates’, then it could be that he owned the negative and had new copies printed from town to town as he toured. I don’t know if there are any known copies of his autograph extant to compare it to. The flourish of the last letter is the only thing that makes me think this might be an actual signature – in the vast majority of the CDVs I’ve bought where names were hand-annotated on the verso, the writing was quite plain, and sometimes even in block printed letters, not script.
James Murphy, the Giant Boy. 8 feet tall, 18 years old. Looking at the overall stature of the man beside him in the photo, In reality he was 7 feet 3 1/2 inches. Also billed as The Irish Giant and the Baltimore Giant, he toured with PT Barnum’s circus. He lived from 1842 to 1875. This photo is dated 1863.
Here’s one of Lavinia Warren Stratton, her sister, Minnie Warren, and a baby. Neither one of them had children of their own, as they were unable to conceive and/or would not have been able to survive pregnancy due to their small stature.
P.T. Barnum would rent a standard size baby to display with them, and when the baby got too old, he would rent a new one. This CDV is anonymous – given the overall soft and mediocre quality of the image, I’m guessing it was a copy of someone else’s photo, most likely by one of the New York studio photographers like Eisenmann, J. Wood, or maybe Masury. Given the plain-ness of the set, I doubt it would have been one of the posh studios like Brady’s or Gurney or Bogardus, as this photo doesn’t even have a floor cloth or a decorative curtain. I’ll keep looking for a credited version of this photo (if any of you out there in internet-land have a version of this with back mark or other credit, please let me know, I’d love to see it!).
Thanks to a friend and highly estimable collector of photographica, I received this additional bit of information. Minnie Warren was able to conceive, and died after giving birth to a baby, who also did not survive. Here is her obituary in the Laconia, NH Mercantile Journal, August 7, 1878.
This is another estate sale find – a very small (smaller than 1/6th plate) tintype of what appears to be a father and son. I’m hesitantly calling it an occupational because they seem to be wearing work clothes. This must have been an inexpensive image given the small size of the plate and the fact that it’s not in a case or paper sleeve or any kind of protection, but if you look carefully, they did pay extra for the hand-coloring of their cheeks and the drapery on the stool the father is sitting on.
Regardless, it’s an interesting image, as it raises all kinds of mental questions about what’s going on here- who were they, why did they sit for this photo, why did they not dress better if it is not an occupational photo, and why, if it is an occupational, do they not have any tools of their trade in the photo?
A lovely 1/6 plate daguerreotype of sisters by Van Loan, with an extremely well preserved velvet pad. The dresses being identical made me think at first glance they were twins, but I’m thinking just sisters now, after seeing the plate in person.
This is the first plate I’ve re-sealed. The original seals were intact, but there was enough dust on the inside of the cover glass that I decided it was preferable to open, clean the glass, and re-seal with Filmoplast P90. I’ve dated and initialed the tape.
Here’s an interesting one – a composite CDV of all the wedding CDVs from Tom Thumb’s wedding, plus a couple. This must have been a promo teaser from the Anthony archives, showcasing all the Tom Thumb CDVs in their catalog.
I have most of the wedding CDVs except the one with the priest (if anyone has a lead on a good copy of that one, please send me that way!), and a whole bunch not included on this card. When I get the chance to re-scan and re-organize my Tom Thumb CDV collection, I’ll post a new summary of them.
A companion purchase to the recent Lucia Zarate CDV, here is a CDV of Francis Joseph Flynn, otherwise known as General Mite. There is a real-world connection between the two of them, as they performed together on stage in an international tour.
In 1884 he would marry Millie Edwards, another little person, and would die in 1898 in Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia (Wikipedia)
Well, look who just dropped in. This is my second Lucia Zarate image.
She is in the Guinness Book of Records as the lightest adult recorded, weighing in at 4.7 lbs at the time the record was made. She was born in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, and according to Wikipedia, her family home is open as a museum.
She also obviously traveled significantly in her sideshow career, having been photographed at age 13 in New York, and at age 18 in London. She succumbed to her small size at 26 when her train was crossing the North American Sierra Nevada in winter and stalled, rendering her hypothermic.
These were an auction lot, which is why I’m showing them together. The first two are 1/9th plates, and the second two, 1/6th plates. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary or earthshaking here, but nonetheless, a very interesting grab-bag of stuff that fills some holes in my collection.
The first image here, of the old lady, is a ruby-glass ambrotype. I apologize for all the dust, but when I removed the packet from the case, I discovered that the paper seals were complete and intact, so I did not want to break them just to remove a little dust. What’s interesting about this is the mat – it appears to be painted paper, rather than stamped brass or gilded copper. It’s the first of this kind I’ve seen.
This little tintype, image-wise, is nothing at all special. I do like her dress though – you can see she had fishnet lace shoulders. What’s interesting about this one (and it’s hard to tell from the scan of the package) is that the mat and preserver are extremely clean, bright and shiny as if they were put on yesterday. I’ve not seen such before. I’m confident that they are not modern reproductions recently applied.
A nice, generic tintype of a middle-aged man.
This was another unusual item. I know it was done, but infrequently – this is not an ambrotype or tintype or daguerreotype, but rather what I believe is a salt print (the reason I don’t think albumen is that the surface is extremely matte, and it is relatively low-resolution – albumens are typically much glossier and have pretty high resolution). If it is indeed a salt print, it is one of the first in my collection. I wonder if this is not a copy of a daguerreotype or ambrotype:
- The outfits, especially his necktie, seem to be from the 1840s/50s
- I have not seen many paper images in small plate sizes like this – this is a 1/6th plate
- The low resolution could also be a symptom of being a third-generation copy (original plate, paper copy negative, paper print)
Also interesting to see is the gilding of her jewelry – the rouging of the cheeks is not at all surprising, but the gilding of a paper image is not something I’ve run across before. This one, also a 1/6 plate
Another recent acquisition – Tom Thumb’s Wedding Cake. I love the advertisement on the rear of the CDV. And look at that cake! That could win a reality TV baking competition today.
I wonder who Hailey was, and why she sent this – was it meant as a suggestion of who to get their cake from?
This has to be about the finest daguerreotype I own, quality-wise. It was an estate sale purchase on an online estate auction site. When listed, the picture looked bad, but having seen enough of these, my intuition said, “the cover glass is just dirty”. I bid, and won.
Well, I was right. When it arrived, there was a lot of dust inside the cover glass. The original seals were present, but they were totally shot. I removed them, opened the packet, and BOOM! This is what I found underneath. I have since cleaned the cover glass and will shortly be re-sealing with films-last tape. The dust you see in the scan here is now on the outside. I’m in awe of the gentle hand-coloring you see in his face and hands, and the texture of his waistcoat. You can practically feel the silk just looking at it!
This is a quarter-plate dag in leather case, probably late 1840s or at the latest early 1850s.