MONTAGUE_0003One wouldn’t think that a man could wear a checkered tie with a checkered jacket and still look dashing, but theater actor H. J. Montague is able to accomplish this feat. The photographer of this cabinet card portrait is theater specialist, Jose Mora. To view more of his celebrity photographs, click on category “Photographer: Mora”. The reverse of this image has an address and a return address as if it had been mailed. However, there is no stamp or postmark. The photograph is addressed to a “Jane Mure” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The script is written in very ornate calligraphy. Surprisingly, both the return and sending addresses have Philadelphia zip codes. Since zip codes are from the twentieth century (1963), it appears that someone may have added the ornate script to give the card more character but wasn’t aware, or not thinking about, the relative recent introduction of the zip code system. Henry James Montague (1844-1878) was the stage name of Henry James Mann. He was an American actor born in England. He appeared in T W Robertson’s comedies in London and in 1870 was a founder of London’s Vaudeville Theater. He came to the United States in 1874 and made quite a splash. He became a matinee idol. George Odell wrote that Montague was “a perfect specimen of refined English Manhood”. He was said to have “made other leading men seem boorish, ill dressed and possibly a bit vulgar”. Montague died quite young, about 34 years old. According to the New York Times (1878) while playing a role in a San Francisco production, he fell extremely ill from a “hemorrhage of the lungs”. He required medical attention from some theater goers and was taken to a hotel to recuperate. He rallied only briefly. During a visit from friends he became acutely ill and his last words as he was dying were reported to be,  “It’s no use, I am going boys; God bless you”. The New York Times covered his funeral. Attendees of his funeral include the “A” list of that era’s theater world. Mourners included Lester Wallack, Kate Claxton, Rose Coghlan, and Maud Granger. The afore mentioned three actresses all have portraits that can be viewed in the Cabinet Card Gallery by utilizing the search box.



This cabinet card presents an enigma. How can this photograph be interpreted? The image features, what are likely, three sisters, gathered around a table. Each of the young woman is holding a book, but only one of the three has their book open. So? What’s the enigma? The mystery concerns the fact that prominently displayed on the table is a picture frame without a picture. The missing picture hasn’t wandered too far away. It can be seen lying on the table, face up, in front of the frame. Hopefully, a cabinet card gallery visitor will leave a comment with their hypothesis as to why the frame and picture are separated in this image. The photographer of this portrait was Theodore A.Wirsing (1865-1938) of Montague, Michigan. Research about Wirsing yielded confusing information. He is reported to have had a studio in Annandale, Minnesota in 1902  and a studio in Maple Lakes, Minnesota in 1902 and 1914. Another source states that Wirsing ran his gallery in Montague between 1890 and 1910. He and his wife, Lillian Bovee Wirsing (1865-1930) are buried in Michigan. Wirsing can also be found in four United States census reports. In 1900, he was living in a boarding house in Corinna, Minnesota, and working as a photographer. He was unmarried. In 1910, Wirsing was living in Annandale, Minnesota and listed as a photographer. .He was also married. In 1920, he was still living in Annandale, Minnesota and he was managing a photographic gallery. In 1930, the 64 year-old, Wirsing, and his wife, were living in Bellingham, Washington. The census also states that Theodore Wirsing was working as a carpenter in Bellingham.

Published in: on February 29, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (4)  
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