This carte de visite photograph features a lovely little girl wearing unusual attire. I would guess that her dress is indicative of a specific ethnic group. I do not know what ethnicity that might be. The detailed stitching on her dress is pretty. Note the striped accessory (scarf?) on the side of her dress, as well as her feathered headband. Her ringlet curls are adorable. This cdv was taken at the R. A. Lord studio in New York City. He operated his studio in the 1860’s. He photographed civil war soldiers and civil war era citizens during the conflict. A couple of his photographs are in the collection of California’s J. Paul Getty Museum. This vintage image is over 150 years old and is in very good condition (see scans).

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Published in: on August 19, 2020 at 12:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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  1. This is a boy. The suit is typical fashion around 1865 for boys from a wealthy family. In those circles, boys wore skirts until the age of five or six years old. He wears a Zouave jacket that is always closed only at the top. The embroidery is also inspired by Zouave clothing. In that century there was a general admiration for militarism and in fashion all kinds of elements can be found. The Zouaves originally were warriors with a martial reputation from French North Africa. However, the crossed strip made of checked fabric with a big bow on the side is inspired by the Scottish kilt. All this combined together is typical nineteenth century eclecticism. The round hat, probably made from leather, has a ribbon made of tartan. Such a hat with feathers also belongs to boy’s fashion.
    Has Seulijn, Utrecht, collector of cdvs with children’s fashion.

  2. Thank you for the correction and interesting information about the boy’s attire. I have misidentified the gender of young children in cdv’s and cabinet cards several times. I do have a question for you. I have read that young children with their hair parted on the side are boys while kids with hair parted in the middle are girls. Is that generally the case?

  3. Sorry for the late reply. This indeed usually applies and can help with identification, but sometimes also girls wear their hair with a separation on the side and sometimes even very short and flat-combed. There are also photographs with girls whose hair is no longer than a few millimeters (often for hygienic reasons). Bourgeois boys sometimes wear long loose hair, with or without sausage- or ringlet curls, especially in the 1860s, in the 1880s (with bangs) and around 1900. You have to look at the whole to be able to judge. Contrary to what is often thought, boys do not wear ‘girls’ clothing. A dress for a boy usually has a more sleek design and decoration and a zouave jacket is often worn over it. The photographer often uses props especially to show that it is a boy or a girl. A child with flowers, a flower basket or a doll, or a child with earrings, is always a girl. A child with a trumpet, a drum, a gun or a boat, is always a boy. A child in the 19th century in pants without a skirt over it, is always a boy (except sometimes on stage, in the circus and on the beach). There is much more to say about it. I could write a little book about this, but I can help with identification. You can always email me. Has Seulijn, Utrecht.

    • Thanks, once again for sharing your knowledge and insight about this interesting topic.

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