This photograph features an exhibit from America’s first wax museum. Note how real the wax bride and groom appear in this exhibit. The groom is sitting in a decorative chair and wearing a pocket watch and corsage. The bride is wearing a wedding band, flowers, and a bridal veil. Her dark wedding dress is beaded and  intricately ornate. This wedding couple looks so real. In fact, they are real. They just look waxen. No offense is meant toward this couple. They are probably posing the way they photographer had instructed them. The photographic process was not generous to their appearance. Writing this description caused me to wonder when wax museums came into existence. Research quickly revealed that the first wax museum originated some time in the early 18th century. However, the creation and use of wax figures for ceremonies occurred many years before that. This cabinet card presents a mystery that I was unable to resolve despite spending quite a bit of time on the endeavor. The mystery involves identifying the photographer of this image. I have copied his studio stamp that was on the reverse of this cabinet card and it can be seen above. Any attempt by the Cabinet Card Gallery’s vast unpaid research department (the gallery’s visitors) to discover the photographers identity would be appreciated. I did not find the name of the photographer to be legible. It also didn’t help that no town, city, or state was listed. For those up to the challenge, good luck in your search.

Published in: on June 14, 2014 at 11:42 am  Comments (9)  
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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I do enjoy your wry sense of humor, and very appropriate.
    Staring with my macro-challenged eyes, ‘Whitehead’ suddenly popped into my head….when he crossed the ‘t’ he missed it and hit the ‘h’ … maybe. Could be a start … with luck.

  2. I read: Whitehead / 108. 5th St(reet)

  3. Try W. H. Whitehead who did photography (CDVs) at 70 5th St in Pittsburgh, PA, Civil War period, (and beyond I suppose?) wrote on the back like that ..and ID on the front when appropriate. Say, am I alone in seeing the bridegroom as a Jesse James look-alike? … maybe they are wax figures … naw ..

    • Thank you for your research that identified the photographer of the catatonic wedding couple. It certainly did not take you very long to accomplish the task. Kudos for a job well done and I am impressed with your research skills. Once again the Cabinet Card Gallery research department (it’s visitors) succeeds in its quest for hard-to-find information. In regard to your observation about the similar appearance of the groom and Jesse James; I most certainly agree. The groom absolutely does look like Jesse James looked on April 3, 1882, shortly after he was shot and killed by rival gang member, Robert Ford.

  4. In the 1880 census in Hamilton, Butler Co., Ohio there was a photographer named R.W. Whitehead who lived on Greenwood Avenue, which was a short distance (less than a mile) from 108 5th Street, which may have been the address of his studio.

    • In Hamilton, OH, 5th St would have to have be listed as N. 5th or S. 5th.

  5. I also read “Whitehead’s” and found the name of photographer W.H. Whitehead on 70th 5th St. Pittsburgh. It says W.H. Whitehead was active in Pittsburgh from 1860s-70s and then in McKeesport, PA after 1890s. The backstamp is shown at the link here:

    Another link has slightly different info, but says Whitehead was inactive in 1881. Confusing things more, W.H. Whitehead had a son who worked as a photographer, and there was an Edward G. Whitehead on Federal St.
    Info here:

    The cursive style logo on your photo of the waxy wedding couple doesn’t resemble the style of W. H. Whitehead. And I think his photos belong to the earlier cdv era.

    I then did a search of newspaper archives, and found a single hit using “108 5th st.” and the term “photographer” in a classified ad in the Cincinnati Enquirer APR 08,1871

    Photographers — Wanted — A really live young man who is capable of running a first class gallery in all its branches. Location, a thriving town in the interior of Kentucky. Call at 108 Fifth street, every morning for 4 or 5 days. No drones need apply. ap8-2t*

    It is the exact address, but I have been unable to find any photographer at the number in the Cincinnati city directories for 1880, 85, 90, 95 though there was a 5th street which had several photographers. Perhaps it was a chemical or photo supply business looking to set up studios in other states.

    Here is one last link. A dealer has a photo of a post-mortem cdv of a child. The card has a decorative pink back and reads “Whitehead 108. 5th St.” (3×7658) $10.00
    A rather sad photo that’s about half way down the list:

    This was fun. Better than Sudoku or crosswords.

  6. Here’s another example of Whiteheads CDV pics … scroll way down to the 5th CDV.

  7. I believe the photographer is my great great grandfather, correctly identified as W.H. Whitehead, who had studios in Pittsburgh, and then in McKeesport. The signature is very distinctive and one I have seen elsewhere.

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