The Lastingness and Beauty of Their Love

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Newlyweds, tintype, circa 1871. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.

“I’ve felt for the first time in my life the joyful consciousness that I am truly loved by a truly good man, one that with all my heart I can love and honor… one who loves me for myself alone, and with an unselfish, patient, gentle affection such as I never thought to waken in a human heart… a man in whom I can trust without fear, in whose principles I have perfect faith, in whose large, warm, loving heart my own restless soul can find repose.”—Anna Alcott Pratt, 1859

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Newlyweds, 1/6th-plate relievo ambrotype, circa 1858. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.

“[M]y love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break… ”—Sullivan Ballou, letter to wife Sarah, 14 July, 1861.

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Newlyweds, English albumen cabinet card by Wakefield, 1 High Street, Ealing, circa 1900. Photo courtesy James Morley.

“To lovers, I devise their imaginary world, with whatever they may need, as the stars of the sky, the red, red roses by the wall, the snow of the hawthorn, the sweet strains of music, and aught else they may desire to figure to each other the lastingness and beauty of their love.”—Williston Fish, A Last Will, 1898

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I am delighted to announce that I have joined the staff writing team at Historical Diaries. Material from Your Dying Charlotte will appear there regularly.

I am also delighted to note that I will be able to bring you material from James Morley, who maintains his vast and wonderful collection on flickr, here, and is the founder of the blog What’s That Picture? His twitter handle is @PhotosOfThePast.

Look! A Pony!

Here are some visual distractions until the next article is completed.

 

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John Wesley Murphy scolds his fierce teddy. A cabinet card taken by the Kern Brothers, 34 2nd Street, New York City, circa 1890.

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An ambrotype of grandmother and child with hand-tinted cheeks, circa 1857. They seem suspended in Time’s Rainbow. Or perhaps time’s lava lamp.

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A daguerreotype of a wistful mother and son, circa 1850.

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An unmarked carte de visite of a beautiful mother and daughters, circa 1869.

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Images: Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.

Adorable Moppets

The first of a occasional series.

Tartan and Striped Socks

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Tintype, circa 1880. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection. His hard-soled, lace-up boots are pretty darned adorbs, too.

Big Brother, Little Sister

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1/6th-plate daguerreotype, circa 1849. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection. The image is shown here in its open case. Nearly all of the earliest forms of photography were presented in wooden cases.

Worried Will

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British 1/9th-plate relievo ambrotype, circa 1858. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection. In this version of an ambrotype, created in 1854 by a Scottish photographer named Urie, the background surrounding the sitter is scraped away and replaced with one of a number of options, including a solid color, a vignette mat, or a false background. When I purchased this ambrotype there was nothing behind the boy’s image, so I had to create a backdrop.

Daddy’s Darling

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1/9th-plate daguerreotype, circa 1850. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection. This beautiful little girl, who is literally falling out of her dress, wears a coral necklace (thought to protect children from diseases) but the object in her hand remains a mystery.

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Say “Cheese”

The photographer may have told the children to hold hands and grab the waist belts to keep their arms still during the exposure.

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Siblings, 6th-plate ambrotype, circa 1855. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.

This ambrotype is not only endearing, but raises several points of interest: First, both children were stood atop chairs and with that placement came the possibility that either could topple—especially the younger child who looks about age two or three. The belts around the siblings’ waists were not part of their costumes—it is likely they were both strapped to metal stands that photographers used to provide stability for their subjects, as well as to keep young sitters like these from wandering out of the frame. (That this was sometimes necessary is illustrated the adorable image below. How refreshing it is to see a mother cracking up at the antics of her toddler whilst Daddy or a studio assistant tries to keep the child from escaping.) The photographer may also have told the siblings to hold hands and grab the waist belts to keep their arms still during the exposure.

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Smiling mother and fleeing toddler, albumen cart de visite, circa 1860. Photograph by Whipple, 96 Washington Street, Boston, Massachussetts. Ann Longmore-Etheridge Collection.

Both children may also have been head clamped, as can be seen in the Victorian cartoon below. Contrary to what duplicitous eBay sellers and 14-year-old goth bloggers might propose, these metal stands were not used to hold up dead bodies. The cartoon below clearly shows how posing stands worked to help keep sitters still.

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Secondly, it is unclear whether the child on the right of the ambrotype is a boy or a girl. The center-parted hair argues female, but the rest of the outfit says boy despite the floral top and long cotton bloomers under a buoyant checked skirt.

Also tantalizing are the partial words visible at the edges of the image. At one point, the sticky back of the ambrotype was covered by newspaper. If still intact, this may have yielded a clue about this image’s precise date and location of origin. Ω