Those I Know Not

A selection of vintage images from my collection featuring sitters whose identities, sadly, are unknown.

An English matriarch sits resplendent for this tinted 1/6th-plate daguerreotype, circa 1849. It is likely by Beard’s Photographic Institute, London and Liverpool, which was run by Richard Beard (22 December 1801–7 June 1885). Beard enthusiastically protected his business through photographic patents and helped establish professional photography in the United Kingdom. He opened his London and Liverpool studios in 1841. Clouds were frequently painted in as a backdrop by his studio staff.
A woman wearing spring fashions uses a finger to mark her place in a book in this 1/6th-plate American daguerreotype, circa 1852. Perhaps she wanted to imply that she had been reading outdoors.
I title this American, circa-1858, 1/6th-plate ambrotype “A Man, His Hair, and His Wife.” The husband has a feminine beauty, especially with the delicate tinting of his cheeks. His wife, brooding, intense, and potentially vengeful, may be wearing a large mourning brooch.
This early English, 1/4th-plate ambrotype features a Victorian teen who could be a character in a Dickens’ novel. She points to an illustration in a book, but I cannot decipher the title or the meaning of her gesture. The image was taken in about 1852.
As photography matured, it became possible to make copies of early, singular photographic images. In the 1890s, this cabinet card was created of a daguerreotype taken in about 1855.


All images copyright the Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.

Author: Ann Longmore-Etheridge

Writer, journalist, editor, historian.

3 thoughts on “Those I Know Not”

  1. Hmm, I think the Victorian teen is just resting her hand at her waist rather than pointing at the book. And you’ve probably told me before but what is the cause for the blueing on the left of the image?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a bit of hand tinting done by the studio. I disagree about the gesture. In the 1850s, they were still relying heavily on the conventions of painted portraiture, where everything was code for something about the sitter. One implication of the pose implication was the girl was educated–pointing to the book could be tantamount to saying, “I can read and do all the other things a well-schooled girl does!” The presence of a book in early photographs usually speaks of either education or religion (if the book is a bible or other religious text. Because I don’t know what the book is, I can’t be sure she isn’t, for example, pointing at a book that was fiction and considered a bit edgy, in a typical teenage act of rebellion. “Ha! Look what I am cool enough to read! Stodges!” But there *is* meaning there, for sure.


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