These two cabinet card portraits come from the same source and belong together. Writing on the reverse of one photograph indicates that the couple are named George and Lizzie. Perhaps the young man and  woman are married to each other. If not married, the two subjects may be siblings. The photographer of both cards is Copelin whose studio was located on the Northwest corner of Madison and State Streets in Chicago, Illinois. The exact address was 75 Madison Street. Some biographical information concerning the Copelin studio is available, but it is very difficult to sort out. It seems that Copelin had a succession of photography businesses. Alexander J. W. Copeland  (1851-c1923) and Melander bought out their boss to open a studio in Chicago sometime around 1870.  Copelin & Son was established in 1871 and existed about ten years. The business has an interesting story associated with it. The gallery was established just six days before the Chicago Fire (1871) and the building was completely destroyed in the blaze. The building had been the first photographic gallery in Chicago but had housed many proprietors. A.J. Copelin rebuilt the business. In the early 1880’s, the Copelin Gallery was established. Copelin eventually left portrait photography and opened a successful commercial photography business. Copelin is also recognized as one of the founding fathers of the Photographers Association of America.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I just obtained an entire photo album full of Copeland photo cards, it appears that it may have been one of their portfolio albums. Would anyone have any advice as to where I may go to find the value of this item?

    Thank you,
    Mike C.

  2. You have done an excellent job with your research. Alexander J.W. Copelin is my great great grandfather. His father, Thomas Copelin came to Chicago with Alexander’s mother in April of 1857 from South Africa. Thomas began the photography business, and eventually turned it over to his sons Alexander J.W. Copelin and T.E. Copelin.

  3. The portraits of “George and Lizzie” may be of George and Lizzie (George) Western. George was born ca 1881/4 near Dayton OH and died 1968 in Grand Rapids, MI. Lizzie George was born ca 1887 in IL or LA and died 1935 in SC. They had a large family of 13 or more children born between 1904 and 1930, and were part of a very large extended “Western” clan of gypsies that were centered in east-central Ohio. Most of George and Lizzie’s children ended up residing in Michigan. Their daughter, Annie, was a famous palmist in the mid-Michigan community of Crystal, where she was know as “Crystal Annie” or “Gypsy Annie.”

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