It is not infrequent that a cabinet card presents an interesting mystery. This cabinet card, by celebrity photographer Napoleon Sarony of New York City, conjures  up some fascinating questions. Is the woman in this photograph a member of one of America’s most famous political families? It is likely that the pretty woman with the dreamy gaze seen in this photo is a Roosevelt. Let me tell you a little about Kate Shippen Roosevelt (1855-1925). In 1883, Kate Shippen Roosevelt (1855-1925) was married to Hilborne Roosevelt who was a world famous organ maker. He had factories in New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. His company made some of the finest and largest pipe organs in the world. He designed the first electric organ and he was a first cousin to President Theodore Roosevelt. Kate was the daughter of William W. Shippen who was the president of the Hoboken Land and Improvement Company and Hoboken Ferry Company. It is not a surprise that their wedding was called by the New York Times (1883) the event of the season. An article in Town Topic Journal of  Society (1883) announces that Kate Shippen Roosevelt would be performing a monologue and that she was one of the “best amateurs” engaged in such performances. Kate was also a well known women’s suffrage critic. She called suffragettes “soapbox militants”. Hillborne Roosevelt died in 1886 at age 37. He left his widow and three year-old daughter quite wealthy and they continued to be part of high society in New York City.  I believe that that the woman in this image is Kate Shippen Roosevelt because  1) the inscription on the reverse of the image is supportive (see below), 2) Mrs. Roosevelt was a member of society and Sarony was a society photographer, and 3) My research was unsuccessful to find another celebrity sharing the name “Kate Shippen”.  Unfortunately, I could not find a photo to confirm or disconfirm that the subject of this cabinet card portrait was Mrs. Roosevelt. The bottom image is the gravestone of Kate Shippen Roosevelt which is located at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.   SOLD

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calif girl and dollThis cabinet card features a pretty young girl posing for her portrait while she holds her doll. The girl has a serious expression as she looks into the distance. She is wearing a necklace and has a bow in her hair. The photographer is Oscar Victor Lange (1853-1913)  of San Francisco, California. He was a leading photographer in San Francisco and also was known as a landscape painter. He was born in Hoboken New Jersey to German immigrants. His family name was “Fahrenberg”. His father was a portrait painter and his family moved around alot. The 1860’s found them in New Orleans and in the 1870’s the family lived in Texas. During the 1870’s Oscar moved to San Francisco where he worked with Ernest W. Newth producing stereographs. At this time he changed his last name to “Lange”. In the 1880’s Oscar opened his own San Francisco studio on Market Street and during the 1890’s he relocated to Montgomery Street. Lange was known for his urban architectural photographs and also for his portraits of railroad workers. He is also noted for his astronomical photographs taken with the University of California. Lange died in 1913 from tuberculosis.

Published in: on June 21, 2013 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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A pretty girl poses for photographer Albert Vetter in either Hoboken or Jersey City, New Jersey. This “Jersey Girl’s” portrait is captured in a crisp and clear image. She is wearing a frilly dress and a ribbon pinned near her shoulder. In addition, she is wearing a necklace with a pendant, and she is wearing it over the collar of her dress where it is hardly visible. The photographer, Albert Vetter, was quite an interesting character. To learn more about him, and to view more of his photographs, click on the category “Photographer: Vetter”.

Published in: on April 1, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  
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An intense looking gentleman poses for his portrait at the studio of Albert Vetter. Vetter operated two photographic galleries in New Jersey; one was in Jersey City, while the other was located in Hoboken.  The man in this photograph is dressed formally, like a gentleman;  but he has the look of a ruffian. Could be an interesting story about the discrepancy, but no identifying information is available about the man in this photograph. On the subject of ruffians, wait until you hear about the photographer of this image. The magazine, The Camera and the Darkroom ( 1904) reported that Vetter was at odds with the family that lived in the house that was also the home of his studio. Vetter got a picture of the  head of the family, who recently died. He enlarged the picture and fastened a rope  around it at the neck, and hung it out the window. The daughter of the late man, got a step ladder and removed the photograph. A “war of words” followed and Vetter was arrested. He was arraigned in front of a judge for disorderly conduct and he was put up for bond to maintain the peace. The magazine used a humorous headline to describe this incident;  “New Idea in Picture Hanging”.

Published in: on November 6, 2011 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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This pretty West Hoboken lady dressed cool, before cool was invented. She clearly mastered the layered look, and the combination of textures composing her outfit, is phenomenal. Her very busy, but interesting hat, also adds to her “look”. This woman knew how to put herself together and likely was well aware that she had this talent. She is posed for this photograph in a studio faux park like setting  which includes a live plant. The photographer is Charles A. Henkel. His studio was located in West Hoboken, New Jersey,  from 1893 through at least 1900. An advertisement in the Photographic Times (1884) indicates that Henkel previously had a studio in Jersey City Heights, New Jersey.

Published in: on July 27, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  
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