It Was A Good Experience!

This large cabinet print by A. Kaldori of Linz, Austria, of four blonde siblings, stands out because he had a way with children – they don't feel constrained to be serious, and it may also be because formality is not what anyone wants in this family photo. I'm not sure I have ever seen a baby dressed like this in so early a photo (1880s) – a little sundress with bare legs and no shoes! She and her younger brother have such droll expressions. It is a family photo that certainly appeals to modern sensibilities and the wonderful condition in which it was kept indicates someone cared about it.


This Is Me!

By now you may have noticed that Timebinder has relatively few images that are run-of-the-mill; even if they fit into a genre represented by hundreds of thousands of a type, there will be something that sets it apart. Count on it.

This little lady takes a positive stance, hand on hip, a handkerchief, dressed in velvet with puffed sleeves and crushed collar in another fabric, nice lace at the cuff, but a simple gathered waist instead of a belt. But it's the pose and the expression and the strange panels behind her ... and the mystery of what her legs and feet would have revealed about her personality had the photographer taken it differently! Oh, I would give something to know – but I can imagine and it makes me smile.

Turn of the century, I think.


Yeah, We've Got It Here Somewhere ...

This small cabinet card looked like something the dog dragged out of the trash; I had to think about whether it was worth the trouble to get it into shape. But here it is in all its motley glory – until you notice the price cards you sort of wonder if you are looking at merchandise or if they just set the trash out for pickup.

There were two words above the door but some vandal deliberately scratched it off the print with a sharp object; maybe Glick had a partnership that went sour and expunged the evidence. Among the goods and services listed on the windows are Hardware and Tools, House Furnishings and Cutlery, Electrician, Locksmith, Tinsmith and something else I can't make out; also Trunks Repaired and Locks Put On, Keys Made While You Wait and Baby Carriages Repaired and Wheels Retired (Whoa ... if you have worn out the tires on your baby carriage, maybe you should think seriously about getting another hobby – it's the carriage you need to retire, not the wheels! Babies, like puppies and kittens, are cute but they grow up!)

Among the recognizable wares on the sidewalk, there are brooms, a trash can, screens, galvanized pails and a porch railing; enameled pots, bowls, and pans; clay flower pots and an ice cream maker. In the windows are tongs, brushes, scissors, pliers, calipers and every kind of enameled pot, cooker, coffee or tea pot in any size you can imagine; also lanterns and lamps.

She is probably a very nice lady, but I wouldn't push her – she sells knives but I think she wouldn't hesitate to go bear hunting with a switch. There are groceries next door.


Gold Standard Class Photo

The general quality of this photo is not above average, but it is worth its weight in gold for fashion alone. I find class photos interesting in themselves, but to have one that is reliably dated as this one is on the slate (1891), and to have the sheer variety of clothing styles represented, fills in gaps in accurate dating for children's photos (published examples on children are virtually nonexistent). 

I have found at least three communities historically noted as Grunville – KY, DE, ME – but just try to find even one on a current map or discover any relevant information about those places; either they no longer exist, have been renamed or are now too small for note. I think it might be Kentucky since there was once a Grunville and a Grunville Female College there in the 19th century; the place name may have been changed to Granville at some point in time.

The other remarkable thing here is the quality of clothing exhibited, perhaps indicating that it is a private institution, or if it is a public school it is an unusually wealthy community (no other photo of the kind in my collection even comes close in that regard). Everyone wears a hat and there are hardly any alike (caps with bills are popular with girls, a revelation to me for the period); capes or coats with capes are also popular; most of the boys wear short pants with stockings. Some of the clothes are exceptional examples of fashion, perhaps not what they would wear to school every day (the girl farthest left, first row seated, is one standout – and her expression may show she is very aware of that). I see several girls who have such similar features that I imagine they are close relations. The third from the right in the row of seated girls has a benevolent little face that I think could indicate a merry and likable personality, she may have been a bit of a tomboy.

The students appear to be within a year or two of the same age, but as is almost always the case the girls look more mature than the boys (and certainly there were greater cultural expectations of behavior for even young females at the time, especially in well-to-do families).


An Afternoon At The Old Fishing Hole

Fishing attire has undergone some changes in 125 years, as has a young woman's choice of reading material when she is not baiting her hook or dabbling her hands in the cool waters with her gloves on – wouldn't you know it would be the latest issue of Anthony's Photographic Bulletin. What else?

You might think from my occasional commentary regarding Victorian-era studio backdrops that I am scornful of them, but no, I accept them as a cultural norm and I never fail to enjoy the joke as I am sure any intellectually discriminating Victorian also did. What is the draped object on the left? Oh, the picnic basket, of course!

This print by J. D. Cadwallader, of Marietta, Ohio, and Parkersburg, West Virginia, is one of the most elaborate faux scenes I have yet seen, with real water as indicated by the tone change in the woman's glove, though I will suspend belief as to whether anyone went away with fish stories – the woman with the line in the water looks somewhat skeptical as to her chances (and perhaps she is feeling just a bit silly). No photographer would create such a scene for a single use; wouldn't you like to know how many other of these photos are out there somewhere?

On the back is inscribed in lovely Spencerian penmanship: Yours affectionately, Kate & Mrs. Yvette, Dec. 7/84.

Another thing that has changed – not many American women today dress in a manner that only exposes the face and a bit of wrist!