Meet the Brown Sisters of Memphis, Tennessee

Katie, Lottie, and Mattie Brown pose for this portrait at the “Cottage Gallery” of Gebhardt and Company in Memphis, Tennesse. The reverse of the card has a message sending “compliments” to the children’s Aunt Hannah and is dated “July 21/ 1887”. Note the props that the children are holding; a book, a basket, and the middle child is holding something that I can not determine. What do you think is in the basket and what is in the centered girl’s hand? Leave a comment with your ideas. (SOLD)

Published in: on March 21, 2023 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  



Three young children pose together for a cabinet card portrait by the Columbia View & Button Company of Memphis, Tennessee and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This photograph precipitates a number of questions. Was this photograph taken outdoors, or is this an in-studio portrait? Was this image produced in Memphis, or, in Pittsburgh? Finally, why is the photographic studio called a “View & Button Company”? Lets attempt to answer the previous questions. It is not clear if this is an indoor, or outdoor photograph; nor is it apparent in which of the studios, the image was produced. However, one source reports that the Pittsburgh studio existed between circa 1893 and 1900. This cabinet card is marked on its front as being photographed in 1901. Does the 1901 date preclude the possibility that the image comes from the Pittsburgh studio? The answer is a resounding no. The date on the card  was preprinted and the source is not certain the Pittsburgh studio definitely closed in the exact year 1900. The third question concerns the reason the name of the studio includes the terms “View & Button” . The likely  answer is  that the studio originally produced stereoviews and photograph buttons. The buttons were generally portraits and varied in size. They could be worn or displayed on a piece of furniture or shelf. Large photographic buttons were most popular between 1900 and 1930. The smaller pinback buttons were popular beginning the 1890’s. There is some other information that may prove to be important in learning more about the image. On the reverse of the cabinet card, there are two names written. These names likely identify two of the subjects in the photograph. The two subjects names are Mary  Baker and Guy Baker. Searching census data with a common name like”Baker” was an exercise in frustration, in regard to identifying these probable siblings. After viewing this cabinet card, one notes that the three children in this photograph are not fashionably nor expensively dressed. They are different from most of the children seen in cabinet cards. The majority of children tend to wear their sunday best, which is generally much nicer than these children’s wardrobe. One surmises that these children are not from an affluent family. This cabinet card is in very good condition (see scans).

Buy this Cabinet Card (includes shipping within the US) #3702

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Buy this Cabinet Card Photograph (includes International shipping outside the US) 3702

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This cabinet card features a most adorable little girl dressed in a long white gown and standing on a chair. This cutie pie is quite expressive. Is she joyful or is she fearful? I opt for joyful. The photographer, Manton M. Patterson, is cited in the St. Louis and Canadian Photographer (1900). A short biography of Mr. Patterson appears in the History of Adair County (1911). Patterson was born in Logan County, Illinois in 1868. At age 6 he moved to Macon County with his family. At age 14 his father died and in order to maintain himself he went to work for a Macon gallery where he learned the photography business. Like many photographers, his work caused him to move from place to place. He operated studios in Missouri (Macon, Memphis, St. Louis, and Kirksville). He also conducted business in Iowa (Iowa City). Patterson was married to Rebecca Ely in 1899.

Published in: on April 12, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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