PORTRAIT OF THREE “FUTURE MEXICAN BELLES”

mexicoThis vintage real photo postcard features three indigenous Mexican little girls standing behind a large urn. The children are barefoot and likely quite poor. A caption printed on the postcard declares them as “Future Mexican Belles”. I am not particularly comfortable with that caption and by today’s standards, it would be considered “politically incorrect”. This postcard was published by H. H. Stratton. The company was located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and operated between 1908 and 1915. Stratton published many international postcards and is known for a series of postcards showing scenes of the Great White Fleet visiting a number of ports around the world. They also published Tarjeta postcards from Cuba. It was common knowledge that Stratton stole many images from other publishers, retouched them, and then printed them under their own name.   SOLD

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UNITED STATES VOLUNTEER UNIFORMED SOLDIER AND HIS WIFE IN CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE

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This photograph features a military man with a young woman who is likely his wife. The soldier is wearing collar pins that identify him as a member of the United States Volunteers. Members of the USV were enlisted in the army but were separate from units of the regular US Army. Although volunteer regiments existed during the civil war, the USV was not officially named until the Spanish American War in 1898. The volunteer army was a quick way to supplement the regular army during times of war and was unnecessary during times of peace. This portrait was likely taken during or just after the Spanish American War. The photograph is smaller than a cabinet card. It measures 3.5″ x 5.25″. Note that the woman is standing behind the man making him appear much more prominent. It almsost seems like that she was not even in the original pose and that she was superimposed onto his photographic portrait. The photographer is A. W. Judd of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Judd was born in 1846. The book “Chattanooga” (1996) reports that Amos Wilson Judd was a civil war veteran who began his photography business in 1877. His  name and studio appears in Chattanooga’s business directories from 1890 through 1920. He died in 1929. He had two brothers who were photographers. His son succeeded him in running his studio.  Judd had two portraits appear in Wilson’s Photographic Magazine (1900). The Photo Beacon (1906) states that Judd was the President of the Kentucky/Tennessee Photographers Association. Wilson’s Photographic Magazine (1908) indicates that he held a patent for a photography invention. A confederate soldier named Amos Judd was a member of the 2nd Battalion Georgia Infantry (State Guard), Company B. He mustered in as a private and left the service with the same rank.

THREE YOUNG CHILDREN POSE FOR THE COLUMBIA VIEW AND BUTTON COMPANY (MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE OR PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA

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 from a poor family.


LADY AT THE CROSS IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

This cabinet card requires some interpretation. A young woman is posed standing next to a cross. Her hand is touching the cross. She appears to be dressed in an outfit from another era, or perhaps she is wearing her night clothes. Where is the cross supposed to be located? Is it a gravestone in a cemetery? Is it a symbol outside a church? Another possibility is that the woman is an actress and the image shown originates from her role in a play. The photographic studio that produced this image,  is W. G. and A. J. Thuss, of Nashville, Tennessee. William Gustave Thuss (1854-1943) came to Nashville by 1875 and created several partnerships. He was partners with Charles Parel (1878), Emil Koellein (1880), and Thus, Koellein and Gierss 1883-1889). In 1889, William joined his brother Andrew Joseph Thuss (1866-1950) in starting their own studio. The pair prospered and photographed many of the dignitaries who lived in, or visited, Nashville. Work from the studio won many awards, and a studio was established in 1897 at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. In 1917, the brothers split up. Each one operated what they called the “original” Thuss studio. The brothers relationship remained damaged for many years, illustrated by the report that when William Gustav Thuss  was on his death bed, his brother never visited him.

Published in: on August 19, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  
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PORTRAIT OF A SOUTHERN BELLE IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

A pretty woman poses for her portrait at the Schleier studio in Nashville, Tennessee.  The brooch on her lace collar indicates that her name is “Mattie”. She is also wearing a triangular brooch that appears to have a rose motif. Theodore M Schleier was a photographer is New Orleans between 1850 and 1860. He operated in Nashville beginning 1860. In New Orleans, he had a photographic gallery on Chartres Street, in 1857. At the beginning of that year, he was assaulted and badly injured when another New Orleans photographer, James Andrews, kicked in the gallery door, and attacked him with a poker. Andrews also destroyed much of Schleier’s equipment. Schleier’s name appears in a number of photography journals, including Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin (1886), where there is an announcement that his Nashville studio was for sale.

TWO GENTLEMEN LOOKING IMPORTANT IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

This cabinet card is an image of two gentlemen dressed warmly in overcoats, hats, and gloves. They exude an air of importance. The photographer is Mahon & Taylor of Nashville, Tennessee.

Published in: on May 29, 2010 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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