A trio of unidentified faces seek re-connection with their families. The final installment of photographs from the NICHOLS-CARNEY collection.
TINYPE #1 2.5″x 3.5″, 1/6 plate
This young woman is smartly dressed for her portrait in a rustic setting. The props, such as the tree branches, and the tree backdrop, lend the appearance of an “outdoor” setting.
The image is a tintype, taken about 1880-1882. As with all of the photos in the NICHOLS-CARNEY collection, it originated from Pennsylvania.
I referred to Dressed for the Photographer, Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900, by Joan Severa, and found an image of a woman wearing a very similar dress and hairstyle. I learn new vocabulary each time I refer to the book.
“The ‘casaque‘ overdress, a distinctive style of the first two years of the eighties, is distinguished by its long, slim shape and symmetrical drape. Together with the generous coat sleeves, reminiscent of the past decade, the style pinpoints the early date of this photograph and the corkscrew bangs confirm it.”
Wearing the latest fashion for the early 1880’s, the woman gazes confidently at the photographer. The striped pattern of her silk dress contrasts nicely with the smooth satin lapels, cuffs and trim of the inverted V casaque. The bodice is closely fastened with ornate metal buttons. A braided cord is tied around the fluted collar and adorned with a lapel pin. Sitting with her hands folded in her lap, her torso slightly turned, there is a sense of anticipation on her face. A drop earring dangles from her visible ear.
Her hairstyle, popular in the 1880’s, shows corkscrew curls over her forehead. The hair was cut short around the temples and curled with a hot iron. The remaining hair is worn coiled atop the crown of the head.
TINTYPE #2 2.5″x 3.5″, 1/6 plate
Although this young boy is also dressed quite fashionably, I’m not certain he is as pleased as his mother was when she purchased the outfit. He has a very serious look on his face. The Fauntleroy suit, (also known as the Buster Brown suit) became popular from 1885 until the turn of the 20th century. In 1885, the English-American writer, Frances Hodgson Burnett, published her first children’s novel, Little Lord Fauntleroy. The book created a fad in middle-class America to dress children in black velvet suits, fancy shirts with lace collars, and ringlet curls. Not all wore the complete Fauntleroy suit, just certain aspects. Fortunately for this boy, his hair is cut short, parted on the side and slicked down with pommade. Under his dark jacket he wears a fancy white shirt with a large ruffled collar. An immense plaid taffeta bow envelops his neck and upper chest.
He stands with his arm resting on the back of a tasseled chair. The backdrop and carpet props provide an indoor setting. It is difficult to determine the date of the photograph because both his hair and clothing style were popular from 1885 until the 20th century.
Photo # 3 – copy of an image
His face weathered by the sun and the years, an elderly gentleman poses for his portrait in an informal setting. The man wears a long, black, wool, sack coat fastened by just the top button, with a matching vest and pants. His white shirt is barely visible under his long flowing white beard. He gazes intently at the photographer. Perhaps it was a traveling photographer who visited this farmer? One work-worn hand rests on the paisley covered wooden table. His other hand holds a walking stick. A ceramic vase adds a touch of refinement to the otherwise rustic setting.
Probably taken about 1890, this photograph could be Phillip CARNEY, the father of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bell CARNEY NICHOLS, and the grandfather of Helena May NICHOLS LEFKOWITZ. In 1890 Phillip CARNEY was 76 years old and farmed in Armstrong County, Pennyslvania.
All of the NICHOLS-CARNEY photographs were important enough to be saved and passed on for over 100 years. If only they had labeled these treasures.
© 2017 copyright Kendra Hopp Schmidt. All rights reserved.