ROSARIO GUERRERO : SPANISH DANCER : INTERNATIONAL STAR : AFFAIR WITH BELGIAN KING

This lovely vintage real photo postcard features Spanish dancer and pantomimist, Rosario Guerrero (1880-1960). She was an international star who is most associated with the role of “Carmen”. She was not a singer. Instead, she performed in the ballet version of the opera. This performance occurred in 1903 at the Alhambra Theatre in London. In 1903 and 1904, she performed in New York. She had been brought to New York City by Florenz Ziegfeld. In 1905 she returned to the stage in London. It was reported that she had a breakdown from “excessive dancing” and was hospitalized in Vienna, Austria (1906). After that episode, she performed in US cities including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Indianapolis. She owned an estate in France. Guerrero was noted to be quite beautiful. She modelled for well known artists of the day. Her sister, Enriqueta was also a dancer, and she performed in London in the 1900’s. When compared to Spanish dancer, Otero, Guerrero is considered a purer Spanish dancer. Otero’s spanish dancing was alongside her exotic dances. Otero’s fame also came from being a courtesan. However, Guerrero is said to have had an affair with King Leopold of Belgium. One article reports that he gave her over a million dollars worth of jewels. It is interesting to note that King Leopold also had a dalliance with Otero. A brief biographical article reports that Guerrero’s dancing career appears to have ended in 1912. This postcard was published by Rotophot (RPH) as part of a series (2209/3). The company was based in Berlin, Germany. (SOLD)

PHRYNE : NINA BARKIS : GREEK COURTESAN : EMAILLOGRAPHIE : RPPC

This color tinted vintatge real photo postcard features actress, Nina Barkis playing the ancient Greek courtesan, Phryne. She has very long hair and she is shielding herself with a transparent lacey fabric. Miss Barkis was an opera singer and dancer. She was known for playing “Salome” and for modelling for photographer Jean Agelou. She also appeared on cards by postcard publisher, Gerlach. This image was created by a photographic process called “Emaillographie”. It is interesting that the first five letters of the technique is “Email”. This vintage postcard is of French origin and is in very good condition (see scans). 

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phryne_0001-2

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CLARA BUTT : ENGLISH CONTRALTO : POPULAR OPERA SINGER : RPPC (1908)

This vintage real photo postcard features English contralto, Clara Butt (1872-1936). She was an extremely popular singer from the 1890’s through the 1920’s. This postcard identifies her by her married name, “Mrs Kennerley Rumford”. Butt mainly performed in recitals and concerts. She only performed in two actual operas. In her late career, she performed with her husband, baritone Kennerley Rumford. Butt was also a popular recording artist. She made numerous records. Butt was bron in Southwick, Sussex. Her father was a sea captain. When Butt was about 8 years old, she and her family moved to Bristol, where she received her education and her ability to sing was recognized. She received musical training and sang in the Bristol Festival Chorus. At 18 years old, Butt won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music. She also studied music in Paris, Berlin, and Italy. Her professional debut occured in 1892 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Early in her career, critics noted her high level of talent and predicted she would be very succcessful. The critics were not wrong. In 1890, Butt married baritone Kennerley Rumford. The pair appeared often appeared together in concert. Butt sang command performances for two Kings and one Queen. She toured much of the world. The postcard measures about 3.25 x 5.25 inchesThis card was published by Rotary Photo as part of their “Rotary Photographic Plate Sunk Gem Series (no.P.269.H). The card has a 1908 postmark.  (SOLD)

JENNIE WINSTON: INTERCONTINENTAL COMIC OPERA ACTRESS


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  1. CABINET CARD 2  (SOLD)
  2. CABINET CARD 3    (SOLD)

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CABINET CARD 4   (SOLD)

Cabinet Card 1 features early theatre actress, Jennie Winston. Unfortunately, biographical information concerning Ms. Winston appears to be sparse, and further research is necessary. An 1881 publication reveals that Jennie Winston was a native of Scotland and moved to Australia to join W. S. Lyster’s Italian Opera company. Her tenure with this company was seven years. She next went ot America under engagement to “Mr Maguire”, for whom she worked for one season’s duration. She then formed her own traveling opera company which journeyed to the western United States and British Columbia. The “Dramatic News” described Winston as “unsurpassed as a comic-opera artist by anyone in this country”. The photographer of this portrait was the studio belonging to Gilbert & Bacon. This studio was well known for their quality work as well as their work with local and visiting celebrities. To view other photographs by this studio, click on the category of “Photographer: Gilbert & Bacon”.

Cabinet Card 2 also by Gilbert & Bacon, captures a costumed Jennie Winston playing the mandolin. Note the backdrop  used in this photograph. The backdrop was an excellent choice for the photograph as it is compatible with Ms. Winston’s costume. It was also a good choice technically; the actress does realistically appear to be standing on a winding stone road.  (SOLD)

Cabinet Card 3 presents a portrait featuring a sultry looking Jennie Winston. The photograph is by celebrated photographer, Marc Gambier (1838-1900).  (SOLD)

Cabinet Card 4 was also photographed by Gambier. Miss Winston is in costume for an unnamed theatrical performance. She is acting in the portrait. Note her provocative and coy appearance. Gambier was born and educated in Paris, France. At the age of 19, he came to America for a very short stint of time. He returned to France and became a student of the great painter, Le Creton. Subsequently, he became a student of another great painter, Camino. He then returned to America and for five years, studied and worked under esteemed photographer, Sarony (view Sarony’s photographs by clicking on the category “Photographer: Sarony”). He then launched his own photography business in New York City. He divided his time between his first love, painting, and his business of taking and selling photographs. Gambier was known as a great historical painter. He was a veteran of the French Army and while in the service, he sketched and painted several important battles. Research reveals that Gambier was listed in the 1880 US census. He was forty-one years old and living in New York City with his family. He is listed as living with his wife Emilie (age 28), daughters Louise (age 10) and Emilie (age 7), and son M. L. (age 2). Also in the residence was a young woman (age 25) who worked as a servant. Gambier was known for the many theatrical photographs he produced as well as for selling postage stamp sized portrait photographs, that people attached to their letters and postcards.   (SOLD)

FRANCES WETHERALL : FILM AND STAGE ACTRESS : AS CYNISCA IN PYGMALION & GALATIA

This vintage real photo postcard features English actress, Frances Wetherall (1868-1923). She appeared in films and on stage. Her filmography includes three films; “A Place in the Sun” (1916), “Nobody’s Child” (1919), and “Cinderella” (1921). She was married to film actor, H. R. Hignett. Wetherall acted in the play, “Gamblers All”, with Lewis Waller. Between 1894 and 1895, Wetherall was a member of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company. She continued to perform in musical and legitimate theater the rest of her life. This postcard portrait was taken at the Guttenberg Studio, in Manchester, England. The phtograher captured Miss Wetherall in her role as Cynisca in”Pygmalion and Galatia”. The photographer of this photograph is Percy Guttenberg of Manchester, England. The photo was taken in about 1905. Alexander Percy Guttenberg (1870-?) came from a family that produced a number of photographers. His father, Marcus Guttenberg (1828-1891) began as a daguerreotypist in Hungary, Prussia, Poland and Germany before starting a photography business in England (1851). One source reports that he established 24 studios in England but settled in the Manchester area. Percy, like his father, was also very successful. In fact, there are fourteen of his photographs in England’s National Portrait Gallery. Percy was famous for his work photographing actors and actresses.  (SOLD)

KARINA AND HER DOG : PREMIERE BALLET DANCER AT THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE : LONDON

Karina. She was celebrity enough to use only her first name. More modern performers who are recognized by just one name include Elvis, Madonna, and Adele. Who was Karina? As the caption on the postcard asserts, Karina was the premiere dancer at the Royal Opera House and the founder of Madame Karina’s Royal School of Dancing. The school was under the patronage of Queen Alexandra (of Denmark). The Queen was a staunch supporter of the opera ballet from 1913 through the 1920’s.  Karina was Danish and active in the 1910’s and 1920’s. Two portraits of Karina can be found in Great Britain’s National Portrait Gallery. The photograph seen on this postcard was taken by the esteemed studio of Elliott & Fry. This Victorian photographic studio and photographic film manufacturer was founded in 1863 by Joseph John Elliott and Clarence Edmund Fry. For an entire century the studio took and published images of leading Victorian luminaries from the fields of science, public service, art, politics, as well as celebrities of the day. This vintage real photo postcard has some corner and edge wear and is in overall very good condition (see scans).

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CATHERINE FERGUSON AS MAD MARGARET IN “RUDDIGORE” : D’OYLY CARTE OPERA COMPANY

This vintage real photo postcard features actress and singer, Miss Catherine Ferguson ( 1895-1972). At first glance, this image appears to be a photograph of a pretty woman on a bad hair day. However, this is actually a photograph of Miss Ferguson playing the role of “Mad Margaret” in “Ruddigore”. The comic opera was also known as “The Witches Curse”. The production was presented by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company and the music and libretto was written by Gilbert and Sullivan. It was first performed in 1887 for a run of 288 performances and was revived in 1920. During World War 1, interest in Gilbert and Sullivan was waning. The company’s main soubrette, Nellie Briarcliffe, left the company. In 1918, the company signed Miss Ferguson to replace Briarcliffe. Ferguson’s stage debut occurred in 1915, in “The Girl in the Taxi”. Ferguson took advantage of the opportunity at D’Oyly and she received much recognition and praise for her performances. In fact, it was thought that she had won the role of principal soubrette on a permanent basis rather than on an interim one. However, in 1919, Briarcliffe returned to the company and resumed her position as major soubrette while Ferguson was relegated to minor roles. Briarcliffe only stayed for one season, and upon her departure, Ferguson returned to being principal soubrette. She left the company in 1923 because of hearing loss. This photo postcard was published by Parkslee Pictures as part of a series (No. 36). The Cabinet Card Gallery has another real photo postcard of an actress playing “Mad Margaret”. You can view it by placing the name, “Aileen Davies” in the search box. SOLD 

GABRIELLE DEMOUGEOT : BEAUTIFUL OPERA SINGER : REUTLINGER : PARIS : (1909)

This vintage real photo postcard features opera singer, Gabrielle Demougeot. This is a color tinted portrait of the pretty opera singer. There is little biographical information readily available about Miss Demougeot. I was able to find a snippet review of one of her performances. The writer describes her as “a pretty coquette with the voice of a high soprano, of a somewhat sour tone, who was charming and …”. Unfortunately, the snippet stopped mid sentence. This postcard is a studio portrait from the renowned French photographer, Leopold-Emile Reutlinger. His studio was located in Paris, France. The postcard was postmarked in 1909. The front (image side) is in excellent condition while the reverse has a scrape near the center bottom of the card (see scans). 

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MURIEL FOSTER : ENGLISH OPERA SINGER : PORTRAIT BY ERNEST WALTER HISTED

This vintage real photo postcard features English contralto, Muriel Foster (1877-1937). Foster and her twin sister, Hilda, were trained at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1896, he made her debut in the production of “King Saul”. In 1899, the sisters performed in a series of duets. In 1900, Hilda retired after getting married. Muriel, who had the command of several languages, continued her singing and had a very successful international opera career. Muriel was photographed for this portrait by Ernest Walter Histed (1862-1947). Histed was born in England but achieved his success as a photographer in Chicago, and later, in Pittsburgh. He then returned to England and opened a photography studio there. His subjects there included Clara Butt (Opera Star) Pope Pius X, and the Empress of Germany. Histed returned to the US and opened a studio on Fifth Avenue in New York City. He later moved to Palm Beach, Florida and continued his profession until 1934. The Museum of the City of New York has a large collection of his work. The National Portrait Gallery (England) has 32 of his photographs in their collection. This postcard was published by London’s J. Beagles & Co. as part of a series (No. G386).The company was started by John Beagles (1844-1909). The company produced a variety of postcards including an extensive catalog of celebrity (stage and screen) portrait postcards. After Beagle’s death, the business continued as J. Beagles & Co. until it closed in 1939. SOLD

ADELINA PATTI SINGS THE PRAISES OF THE CHICAGO CORSET COMPANY (TRADE CARD)

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This item is a vintage trade card advertising corsets for the Chicago Corset Company. The card dates back to the 1880’s. The wasp waisted women seen in a number of the photographs of the cabinet card era, didn’t get that way from going to Jenny Craig and the gym. Their secret weapon was wearing a corset. This trade card utilizes a “celebrity spokesperson”.  Adelina Patti, a famous opera singer, sings the praise of Ball’s Corsets which were manufactured by the Chicago Corset Company of Aurora, Illinois. She ordered eight corsets and testified that she wished that she had known about them sooner. The company advertising on the card brags that “they need no breaking in” and that they provide “health and comfort”. This particular trade card is also advertising the T. J. Elcock & Company which was a Dry Goods, Carpet, and Notions store in Mechanicsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here is a little information about the Chicago Corset Company, The business is cited in Robin Shepard’s “The Best Breweries and Brewpubs of Illinois (2003). The author writes that in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Aurora was considered the corset capitol of the world. There were at least three corset companies operating their factories there and one of the largest was the Chicago Corset Company. In fact, I read elsewhere, that the company was the second largest corset company in the world. At one point, the business employed 600 people and produced 2 million corsets a year. The word “corset” began to be used in the English language in about 1828. “The Ladies Magazine” described it as a “quilted waistcoat”. The primary reason for using corsets was to slim the body and help it conform to a fashionable silhouette. Generally speaking, the corset reduces the waist and exaggerates the bust and hips. Apparently there were “overbust corsets” and “underbust corsets”. Sometimes, corsets were used for medical or for fetish purposes. I’ll refrain from elaborating about the medical and fetish purposes and leave detailed explanation to your imagination. The corset company’s spokesperson on this trade card is Adelina Patti (1843-1919). She was a celebrated 19th century opera singer who earned a great deal of money for her performances at the height of her career. She sang in both Europe and America and is probably one of the most famous sopranos in history. She was born in Madrid. Her father was tenor Salvatore Pattie and her mother was soprano Caterina Barilli. Her parents were Italian and she grew up in the Bronx, New York. She sang professionally from childhood. At sixteen years of age, she made her operatic debut at the Academy of Music in New York City. At age eighteen she began performing in Europe. She later performed “Home Sweet Home” for President Lincoln and his wife shortly after the death of their son, Willie. The bereaved parents requested an encore. She was associated with the song for her entire career. In her prime, Adelina Patti demanded to be paid five thousand dollars a night. She asked to be paid in gold, prior to each performance. She demanded top billing and that her name be in bigger font than others in the company. She also demanded that she not be obligated to attend rehearsals. Did someone say, DIVA? It was reported that she trained her parrot to say “Cash, Cash”. Be sure to look below to see some interesting images pertaining to corsets as well as an image of Miss Patti.   (SOLD)                   

Adelina Patti
Corset Shop Window
Polaire was famous for her tiny, corseted waist, which was sometimes reported to have a circumference no greater than 16 inches (41 cm)
A woman models a corset in this 1898 photograph.

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Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art