Perhaps this entry into the Cabinet Card Gallery is a mistake on my part. I began this blog in 2008 and for many years all the photographs that the gallery displayed were Cabinet Cards. Having difficuly putting reins on my vintage photography interests, I added cdv’s, real photo postcards, and vintage post cabinet card photographs to the collection. I must have trouble setting limits because today I am entering a “non photograph” into the blog. I feel a need to provide you with a rationalization. The entry today is a vintage trade card advertising corsets for the Chicago Corset Company. The card dates back to the 1880’s. The question remains, what is this “non photograph” trade card doing in the gallery? Here is my explanation. There are many entries in the cabinet card gallery that discuss the use of corsets. The wasp waisted women seen in a number of the gallery’s photographs didn’t get that way from going to Jenny Craig and the gym. Their secret weapon was wearing a corset. Therefore, it seems a brief discussion of corsets is appropriate content for the Cabinet Card Gallery. 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 advertising for T. J. Elcock & Company which was a Dry Goods, Carpets, 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), I’m not kidding about the reference. 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 wist 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.

corset 2


 Adelina Patti

004                              Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The                                                 Metropolitan Museum of Art



A fashionable young woman holding a flower poses for her photographic portrait at the J. H. Steiner studio in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is wearing earrings and rings. She appears to be wearing a corset judging by her shapely figure. Her ethnic origin is unknown but it is unlikely that her family came to America on the Mayflower.

Published in: on October 9, 2014 at 8:00 am  Comments (3)  
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hattie harvey_0002

A pretty corseted actress poses for this cabinet card portrait by theatrical photographer, J. B. Scholl, in Chicago, Illinois. The wasp waisted actress is posed a bit provocatively by the photographer. She has her hands on her hips and her head is slightly tilted. She is also exhibiting a mischievous grin.The reverse of the image is inscribed and dated. The cabinet card is signed “For ever yours, Hattie”. There is a possibility that her name is “Nattie” because the first letter of the name is not very legible. The back of the card is dated 1892. In addition to the State Street address, during his career, Scholl also had studios at two locations on South Halsted in Chicago. Perhaps a visitor to the cabinet card gallery can identify this actress. It is my opinion that this actress is Miss Hattie Harvey. The opinion is formulated by viewing other images of Miss Harvey and by her connection to Chicago. An article about Hattie Harvey appeared in the New York Times (1892). The article was entitled “Hattie Harvey’s Infatuation”. It seems the young Chicago actress had developed an infatuation for an Englishman in her company named Brooks (now we know why she has such a mischievous grin in this photograph). Her parents were not pleased and when the company’s production closed, her father promised to arrange more engagements for the company if his daughter would give up Mr Brooks. She refused his manipulative offer and there were some “exciting scenes” that occurred in the Grand Hotel concerning this family conflict. In addition, Hattie’s mother had two fainting spells “over the affair”. The newspaper article described Harvey as a “very pretty girl of nineteen” and reported that she declared she would marry the fifty year-old Brooks. However, public speculation was that Brooks, who was recently divorced, still had another wife back in England. Hattie Harvey’s parents threatened to “cast her off” if she continued the relationship with the”adventurer”.

The second photograph produced by Newsboy (#379) as part of a series of tobacco premiums, is a portrait of  “Miss Infatuation”, Hattie Harvey. Compare the photograph with the one above and decide whether the two women are one and the same. It is my view that the portraits both feature Miss Harvey. Please leave a comment if you have an opinion about this matter. In the second photograph, Miss Harvey appears to be in wardrobe for one of her stage appearances. She certainly was an attractive woman.



This photograph features a pretty young woman in a beautiful dress. She has a nice figure enhanced by a corset. She is wearing a ring and earrings. This image could be placed under the categories of “fashion” as well as “beautiful women”. The photographer is Albert Naegeli (1844-1901) who operated a photographic studio in New York City’s Union Square. Naegeli was a native of Germany who came to the United States at the age of sixteen in 1860. He settled in New York City. He began his photography business in New York City in 1864 during the CDV era. He moved the business to the 46 East Fourteenth Street location in 1876. He partnered there with Edward M. Estabrooke who was a tintype expert. Their partnership ended in 1880 and Estabrooke relocated to Elizabeth, New Jersey. Naegeli trained his sons Albert (photographer) and Henry (Technician) in the photography business. Naegeli specialized in portraits of theater stars. The subject of this photograph could very well be an actress of this era. Naegeli was a smart businessman and invested wisely in Real Estate and became a very wealthy man. The cause of his death remains a mystery. He died from a gun shot wound to his head. His son, Albert, claimed that the death was accidental but others thought that he committed suicide because he was depressed about the recent death of his daughter from a spinal disease. Whatever the reason for his death, New York City lost a talented photographer at the time of his demise. The photograph above is an example of his acumen.  The format of the photograph and advertising beneath the image is identical to photographs that Naegeli  took in 1899, indicating  that this photograph dates back to around that year. The photograph measures 5″ X 7″.The image is sharp.


Published in: on January 27, 2014 at 4:28 pm  Comments (1)  
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parasol10A pretty woman is a stylish dress poses for her portrait at the  J. B. Wilson studio in Chicago, Illinois. She is wearing a pretty hat and is holding an open parasol over her shoulder. Her left arm is hidden but magnification shows that she has placed her left hand on her hip. She is thin waisted, probably courtesy of a corset. The reverse of the photograph has an inscription that identifies the young woman pictured in the image. However, the identification is somewhat tentative. The inscription states “Aida Bushnell, I think”. To view other photographs by J. B. Wilson, click on the category “Photographer: Wilson (JB)”. The 1900 US census lists the subject as “Addie” and reports that she was born in 1866 and was married to Henry Bushnell since 1888. She and her husband had three children; Howard (age 11), David (age 8), and Miriam (age 4). Henry worked as a laborer while Addie was a dressmaker.The family was living in Lisbon, Illinois. The 1910 census finds the family living in St. Charles, Illinois. The only child remaining home was Miriam (listed as Marion). Henry still worked as a laborer. The 1920 census identifies Aida as “Ada”. She and her husband were still living in St. Charles. Henry was disabled and not working while Ada was also unemployed. The 1930 census indicates that the 74 year-old Henry and 64 year-old “Addie” remained in St. Charles. The 1940 census reveals that Addie had become a widowed boarder in a St. Charles residence.


OTTAWA WOMAN_0007A pretty young wasp waisted woman, holding a muff and wearing gloves, poses for what is likely a winter portrait at the Jarvis studio in Ottawa, Canada. According to an inscription on the reverse of the photograph, the corseted woman is named Mary Devlin and the photograph was taken in 1890. The photographer, Samuel J. Jarvis was a famed Ottawa photographer who opened a studio with partner Alfred Pittaway in 1882 while both were still teenagers. In 1890 they split up and became competitors. They joined forces again in 1907 and worked together until Pittaway’s retirement in 1928. Their studio did photo portraits, photojournalism, and operated a photographic supply shop and developing studio. The pair hired an artist who created elaborate sets and backdrops. The Ottawa Citizen (1948) published a feature story about Jarvis and his pioneering days in photography. Samuel J. Jarvis should not be confused with his photographer uncle, Samuel Jarvis.

Published in: on February 3, 2013 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  
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Two pretty young woman pose for their portrait in this scalloped cabinet card produced by the Hall studio in Hoopeston, Illinois. The women do not seem very enthusiastic about having their photograph taken. Each of the subjects have baskets of flowers on their laps and are wearing fingerless gloves. The woman seated on the right in the image is holding what appears to be an umbrella. Both of these ladies have very thin waists. They are probably wearing corsets. Perhaps those corsets are a little too tight and that would explain the pained expressions they display in the photograph.  The photographer, Ervin S. Hall, appears in the 1880 US census. Hall was 25 years old and married (1877) to Violetta Hall (age 27). Hall’s parents were born in Maine but he and his wife were Illinois natives. The couple lived in Hoopeston and Hall worked as a photographer. The 1900 US census found Hall and his wife living in Grant, Illinois with their two children, Ellis (age 17) and Ethel (age 15). Ervin was still working as a photographer. The 1910 US census lists Hall and his wife living in Urbana, Illinois and Ervin still employed as a photographer. The 1920 US census reveals that the couple was living in Kissimmee, Florida and Ervin was working as a hardware salesman. The 1930 US census indicates that Ervin was retired and he and his wife remained in Kissimmee. Research uncovers the story of Hoopeston, Illinois. The town was created in 1871 and named for Thomas Hoopes who had offered his land to be the site of the crossing of two railroads. The business and manufacturing that developed in Hoopeston centered around agriculture. The Illinois Canning Company (1875) and the Hoppeston Canning Company (1878) were established there. Greer College (1890) was also established in Hoopeston.

Published in: on December 4, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  
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The photographer is A. L. Lehnkering located at 87 East Main Street in Rochester, New York. She is wearing a gorgeous dress with rows of ruffles at the bottom. Note her tiny waist, likely courtesy of a corset. She is also wearing jewelry including a band around her wrist and a ring. She looks pensive. She is leaning on a chair with tassels. August L. Lehnkering seems to have occupied a few different addresses on East Main Street. In addition to number 87 (listed on the reverse of this image). he also operated out of 87 and 89 East Main Street, as well as 208 East Main Street. He was working out of 87 East Main in 1879, according to the Rochester Business Directory. He is mentioned in the American Journal of Photography (1891) for being awarded a photographic patent, and also in two photography journals published in 1906 for contributing to a charitable fund.

Published in: on November 1, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  
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A pretty young woman poses for her portrait at the Falk studio in Sydney, Australia. She is beautifully dressed, and has an attractive figure (give an assist to her corset). The photographer of this image was quite well known in his time. Henry Walter Barnett (1862-1934) was born in St. Kilda, Victoria. His parents were London-born Jews. Barnett began his career as an assistant to photographer Robert Stewart in 1875. When he was 21 years old he set up a studio in Hobart. He sold it to his partner in 1884 and went to London where he joined society photographers W. & D. Downey (click on cabinet card gallery category “Photographer: W & D Downey” to see some of their photographs). He returned to Australia and opened the Falk Studios in Sydney in 1887. He quickly became of the leading portrait photographers in the country. The Australian Dictionary of Biography states that “he was distinguished for his ability to bring out bone-structure and texture of the skin.” He was known as a perfectionist and he employed the most skilled craftsmen to work in his studio. He was said to have a flair for conducting business, paying little attention to cost. However, he asked “unheard-of-fees” for his services. Among his sitters were many celebrities, including Sarah Bernhardt and many other theatrical stars. In 1889 he married 20 year-old Hilda (Ella) Frances Clement Forbes”. The couple became known for their lavish entertaining. In 1896 Barnett became involved in early Australian Cinematography when he filmed scenes of the Melbourne Cup. In 1897 Barnett relocated to London where he operated a studio at Hyde Park Corner and later at Knightsbridge. His subjects included many royals and high society individuals. In 1920 Barnett sold his studio and retired in Southern France. He could not rest long and soon was involved in the collection and sale of contemporary French art.


Two young women pose for their portrait in Newport, Pennsylvania. Both women are grasping one end of a fan that they hold behind their heads. Their raised arms highlight their hour glass figures which are given an assist by the corsets they are wearing. The photographer is named William Easter Lenney. He was located in Newport in the early 1890’s and moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he became a well known portrait photographer between 1894 and 1920. He and his family then moved to California.

Published in: on April 27, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  
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