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.
I just acquired another CDV of Lavinia Warren by Appleton of New York. What’s interesting is that here the photographer, A.A. Turner, is also credited on the studio imprint. I’m assuming that in order for this to have happened, Mr. Turner must have been a financial partner in the business or otherwise a major player, because the other name studios of the period never credited the camera operators, even ones who later went on to have extremely notable careers of their own (Timothy O’Sullivan and Alexander Gardner both worked for Mathew Brady at some point but are not credited on Brady’s cartes de visite, even when Gardner was Brady’s studio manager in DC and helped restore the financial well-being of the studio).
For comparison I’m including the other Lavinia Warren image by Appleton I have:
These appear to be different sittings, as her outfit and the furniture in both scenes are different.
My biggest collecting theme so far is Tom Thumb. I got started when I was first starting to collect CDVs and found one of the Tom Thumb wedding photos by Brady with the facsimile signatures on the verso. Lately I’ve been spurred in my collecting to see if they can outdo Frederick Douglass in their image-making as the most photographed people of the 19th century (see my blog post about Tom Thumb and Frederick Douglass)
This is another CDV of Tom Thumb and his wife, Lavinia Warren, by C.D. Fredricks. I think I’m up to 25 now, and I know there are at least a dozen more images I don’t have that are in reasonably widespread circulation. I don’t think I have any that are particularly rare. This was a very nice acquisition as it is in near-mint condition and the print is exceptionally sharp and fresh.
If you’re familiar with the story of Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, you’ll know they were married for twenty-some years but never had a child of their own. P.T. Barnum, though, thought it would make for a good story for them to have a baby. Lavinia Warren was unable to bear children, so Barnum would simply rent a baby for them to pose with, and when the baby got too big, he’d go out and rent another one. This is one of the earliest “Baby Thumb” photos, as part of a set of images commissioned from Mathew Brady by P.T. Barnum to promote the Thumbs.
Another CDV of just Lavinia Warren. This is an unusual image that I hadn’t seen before. It really gives you a sense of how small she was, as you get a sense of scale from the chair she’s sitting in- she’s sitting on a bolster and still is barely above the top of the back of the chair.