GRAND RAPIDS GRAND RAPIDS 1This cabinet card features a portrait of an attractive young lady. She is posed with her  back toward the camera, a pose which offers a profile view. The photographer of this image is Samuel Sharpsteen of Grand Rapids, Michigan and the photograph was taken in 1890. The previous owner of this cabinet card stated that Sharpsteen was of the Jewish faith, but that is not factually correct. There is a tendency for owners of cabinet cards to see a name that “sounds Jewish” and assume that the bearer of that name, must be Jewish. This kind of logic results in many incorrect identifications of Jewish photographers. It so happens, that Mr. Sharpsteen was of the Methodist faith. Samuel Sharpsteen was born in 1850 near Battle Creek, Michigan. His parents were native New Yorkers who were among the early settlers of Michigan. He was educated in Battle Creek’s public schools and at age 20 left home to apprentice in photography. He then went of Owosso, Michigan, where he and his older brother opened a gallery. After six months, his brother left the partnership; and Sharpsteen stayed in Owosso until 1882. He also married his wife there. His wife’s name was Nattie Tuttle, and she was from Cleveland, Ohio. His next location was Ionia, Michigan, where he stayed 8 years. An 18 month stint in Detroit was followed by his move to Grand Rapids. His gallery was in Grand Rapids from 1888 until , at least, 1903. His studio moved around a lot. Research located nine different Grand Rapids locations over the years that he was there. In addition, he had a partner in 1890 and their studio was known as Sharpsteen & Andrews. The Bulletin of Photography (1916) announced Sharpsteen’s death. He died in Grand Rapids at age 71. This cabinet card photograph is in very good condition (see scans).

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An adorable young girl wearing ballet shoes, poses for her portrait at the Noble Studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The photographer posed her as if she was dancing. The bright eyed young girl has a terrific smile. The photographer of this image is Thomas Frederick Noble (1866-1932) and he operated a photography studio at various addresses in Grand Rapids. His career spanned between 1890 and 1931. The 1920 US census found him living in Grand Rapids with his wife Pauline (age 50) and two of their children, Fred (age 17) and Pauline (age 15). The 1900 US census reveals that he also had a daughter named Lily. Noble died in 1932 and is buried in Graceland Memorial Park in Grand Rapids.

Published in: on August 27, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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This cabinet card portrait features a well dressed handsome gentleman with a stylish mustache and beard. Men were more creative with their facial hairstyles during the cabinet card era compared to today. This gentleman’s mustache is incredibly thick and he is wearing his beard in a fashion that might be called “the billy goat” look. To view other interesting beards, click on the category “Beards (Only the Best). This photograph was taken by the Hamilton studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Hamilton studio was located in Grand Rapids between 1886 and 1911. The studio was run by Daniel H. Hamilton (1836-1891) and his wife, Emma J. Hamilton (1852-1918). Daniel Hamilton was born in New York while his wife was born in Iowa. Their studio was at times single proprietor and at times run by a partnership. Daniel ran the studio between 1886 and 1896. Emma ran the studio between 1897 and 1907 and then again between 1909 and 1910. There were two partnerships in the studio’s history; Hamilton & Vancampen (1908) and Hamilton & Reingholtz (1911). Emma is listed in the 1900 US census as living in Grand Rapids with a housekeeper and a servant. Both Daniel and Emma are buried in Oakhill Cemetery in Grand Rapids.



The reverse of this cabinet card has an inscription that reveals that the names of the two girls appearing in this image are Ola and Gertie Cogswell. They are wearing lovely dresses and bows. They have terrific long hair and curls. The siblings appear in the 1900 census.  At the time of the census, Ola was nine years old and Gertie was seven years old, They were living with their family in Cato, Michigan. Their family consisted of their parents Harley and Ella, and siblings Theodocia (age 5) and Harold (age 3). At some point after 1900, the family appears to have moved to Grand Rapids. The photographer of this image is the Chapman studio which was located in Stanton, Michigan.  Ira O. Chapman (1853-1908) and E. Frank Chapman (1858-1916) were brothers who operated as photographers in Stanton, Michigan. It is unclear which brother is the creator of this cabinet card. At one point in time, the pair conducted business in Stanton as “Chapman Brothers” studio. A portrait of a group of members of the Grand Army of the Republic that was done by the photographer brothers, appears in the Flat River Museum in Greenville, Michigan.


GRAND RAPIDS MANA young man with a “spiked” hairstyle poses for his portrait at the Schellhous studio in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The gentleman is wearing a checkered jacket with a pocket handkerchief, and  his watch chain shows under his jacket. The photograph is dated 1886. The photographer of this image, Loran Webster Schellhous is listed in the Grand Rapids business directory between at least 1884 through 1893. He also operated photography businesses at various times in Colon, Coldwater, and Coopersville, Michigan. The Ada Historical Society (Michigan) indicates that Schellhous’s wife, Martha Catherine Faxon (1831-1905) was also a photographer. She is recognized for her work photographing leaves of various plants.

Published in: on December 10, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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A young woman poses for the camera at the studio of Arthur & Philbric in Detroit, Michigan. She is wearing an unusually loud patterned blouse. Note the subjects fingerless gloves and collar pin. The Arthur & Philbric Studio had galleries in Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as in Toledo, Ohio. Research revealed some information about James Arthur (1855-1912). He was a native of Montreal, Canada and first began work as a photographer with the well known  J. and J. W. Notman studio. He came to Detroit in 1881 and went to work with photographer J. E. Watson. In 1883 he became senior partner in the firm of Arthur & Philbric and they remained in business together for eight years. He then became sole proprietor of a firm called Arthur Studios. Research also yielded information about Philbric. Most notable is that Philbric was a woman. Her name was Helen M. Philbric and her name appears in Michigan business directories as Arthur’s partner between 1884 and 1893. No other information about Philbric was discovered. To view the work of other female photographers, click on the category “Female Photographers”.


This photograph captures a fraternal organization member wearing an organizational hat and pin. Note the tassel on the hat and the man’s wonderful mustache.  The hat has lettering on it which appears to say “Saladin”. The Saladin Shrine Center is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was established in 1886 and has, like many such fraternal organization of that time, a Middle Eastern theme. Saladin was a warrior and Sultan of Egypt and Syria. He lived between 1138 and 1193. He was known for his soldiering, chivalry, courageousness, piety, acts of mercy, and kindness to the poor. The organization became very popular. By 1893, the fraternal group had 661 members. This photograph has been trimmed for framing and as a result, the name of the photographer and the location of his studio is unknown.


Published in: on June 22, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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