A beautiful young actress poses for her portrait at The Sparks studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is wearing a horseshoe broach which probably was supposed to bring her good luck. This actress’s name was Marion Elmore. She was born in 1860 in a tent in Sandhurst, Australia. Her parent were English and they were in Australia because they were hoping to hit it big in the Gold Rush. Elmore began her acting career at age three. She played in Rip Van Winkle with touring American actor, Joseph Jefferson. In the 1870’s she was a member of Lydia Thompson’s famous burlesque troupe. “The Blondes” performed a risque mix of songs, dance and comedy. They also were very well known for showing a great deal of leg in their revealing costumes. She came to the United States in 1878 with the troupe but soon went off on her own as an actress and vaudeville performer. Her first starring role was in Chispa (1883). This play was poorly reviewed. The “Virtual Dime Museum” quotes the journal “Music and Drama” which wrote that the play “was dramatic rubbish, and that it does not fit Marion Elmore any better than her straw hat, which was continually falling off”. The New York Times (1882)  also lambasted the play. The critic had mixed feelings about Miss Elmore, but stressed her negatives. He blamed actress Maggie Miller for perpetuating a type of actress that he found abhorrent. These actresses were seen as stock actresses who rose to “money making dignity” by performing in troupes like Lydia Thompson’s Blondes. He described Elmore as a “vivacious exponent of the high art of leg burlesque”. The critic asserts that the craze surrounding Lydia Thompson, and other similar troupes, was one of the worst stupidities of the stage” and that he was pleased that the popularity of this type of entertainment had become “extinct”. On the positive side, the critic enjoyed Elmore’s sense of humor and her “brightness”.  One fortuitous outcome of her acting in Chispa was that she fell in love with, and in 1884, married her co star, Frank Losee. Another actress in Chispa was Lina Merville. Her portrait can be found in the Cabinet Card Gallery via the search box. As Elmore’s career continued, she acted in many plays in the New York area. She was active through the 1890’s and the early twentieth century. She died at age ninety in 1950. To view other photographs of actresses by Sparks, click on the category “Photographer: Sparks Photo Publishing Co.”.


This cabinet card features two tough looking guys, wearing derby hats, and standing outside a ramshackled shed. Who are these men and what are they doing? This may be an occupational photograph. Note the baskets and the barrel. Is that a scale that one of the guys is leaning against? Is that a horseshoe above the shed’s door. This may be a mining scene; or perhaps an agricultural image. Hopefully, someone will leave a comment that makes an educated guess concerning what this image depicts. There is no identifying information concerning the subject, location, or photographer associated with this photograph.

Published in: on February 17, 2011 at 8:42 am  Comments (4)  
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This cabinet card is a portrait of a young woman photographed by Harry, who advertised himself as the “leading photographer” of Steubenville, Ohio. The woman is wearing a ribbon around her collar as well as two pins. One pin is a horseshoe while the other appears to be some sort of clover. Perhaps these are good luck charms. Albert S. Harry (1848-1904) was born in Ohio and worked as a photographer in Wooster, Ohio through much of the 1870’s. In 1878, he settled in Steubenville and operated a studio until at least 1893. He later worked as a photographer in Brooklyn, New York.

Published in: on July 18, 2010 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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