Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Victorian Photo Album #1, Part 1

Hello and welcome to the first post in a long installment of Stuff I Post When I'm Behind on Sewing!

Just kidding, I'm not doing this simply to keep up with the one post a week schedule, I'm posting this stuff because it's fantastic primary source material! I found this album in a box in my Grandparent's attic along with three other Victorian albums, two Edwardian ones, and a small assortment of individual framed photos from the 1910's and 20's. It was probably the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me, I stood there for several minutes just cackling and wheezing out the words "primary source material, primary source material" (I'm not making that up).
I am going to scan and post all these pictures here on this blog, a few at a time.

There was one very large 19th century album, one small one and 2 medium sized ones.
Today I'm posting from one of the medium sized albums. It is 10 cm wide, 13.5 cm tall and 6.25 cm thick. It has a brown leather cover with four white feet that I think are made of porcelain. There are 25 thick cardboard pages, each with a space on both sides. 36 of the spaces have photos and 14 are empty. The binding is totally dead and the pages are mostly detached from each other, which made scanning much easier.
This post contains the first 18 photographs. I have watermarked them, but I put the marks on the frames so that they wouldn't mess up the pictures. There are names written underneath the pictures, which are in a rather scrawly hand, but I'll try my best to read them.

Ugh, that was a long introduction. Now for the photographs! (I strongly recommend clicking on them for a larger view.)
Aunt Ann Lindsey
 What a pretty necklace she has. And a pretty moire neck tie thingy, what is that thing called?

As you can see, her picture was partly out of the frame. I was able to very carefully remove it and scan the back. Most of these pictures are on metal plates(the darker grey ones), but some of them (the sepia ones) are mounted on little pieces of cardboard. The metal photos don't have any other markings on them, but the cardboard ones have the name and location of the photography studio on the back.
Back of picture #1
So, she was photographed in Saint John, New Brunswick by ISAAC ERB. Saint John isn't too far away from where I live. Next time I go there I should go see what is at 13 Charlotte street now.
By Mc Coy?
 I'm not sure if "By" is short for something, it doesn't sound much like a first name to me.
William Dalling

 It's incredible how closely he resembles Dr. Joel Fleischman from Northern Exposure.

Uncle Sam Briggs' girls, Blanche & Lydia.
You can really see the resemblance between them, they have exactly the same ears.

May Briggs
I'm not sure how long the exposure was for these things, but it's pretty impressive that they were able to take such clear pictures of babies.
Uncle George's girl, Ella Briggs.
Another cute little girl, this one with a cute little cape.
Elsie Flemming
The picture is adorable, but that chair is a fringe monster!

Lydia Briggs McBride
Beautiful accessories, beautiful hair, beautiful picture! I am a bit puzzled by the neckline though. What is that white stuff? It looks like she is wearing some sort of flowery white net thing over a shirt and under her bodice, with a black lace scarf over that.

Who is this guy? I have no idea. Scrawly Person didn't write his name down.
 His coat looks very warm and cozy, and he has a spotty ascot!

Lorenzo Cheney
Lorenzo Cheney is such a cool name, it's a shame his photo is so scuffed up. I love the stripey bowtie, and the watch chain.

Clara Briggs Lockhart & John Briggs
 I love this photo! The two tiered walking length skirt, the crazy frizzy hair, and that fantastic unevenly striped neck tie thingy. I wish I knew how old these people were though, John looks like he's only 12 or 13.
Uncle Sam Briggs
 A Canadian named Uncle Sam? Weird. This must be the father of Blanche and Lydia from page 4.
Aunt Kate Briggs
 Look at the perfect little curls on her forehead! And the diagonal bodice trim, and the buttons!
Aunt Lydia McBride
 Another Lydia, that makes three, and they're all different people. Lydia must have been a very common name.

Uncle George & Aunt Adeline(?) Briggs
It looks like she's wearing matching bracelets.
Uncle Robert & Aunt Bell Briggs
 She is wearing a black ribbon tied around her neck in the exact same way that Clara Briggs Lockhart is. In fact, a lot of these women have thin black ribbons tied around their necks, I wonder why.
Aunt Ann & Uncle John Lindsey
 He's got the same kind of watch chain ornament as Lorenzo Cheney, they look like little keys. He's also sitting on the same fringe monster chair as Elsie Flemming, and John Briggs.
Uncle John Lindsey
This can't be the same John Lindsey as the one in the previous photo, their faces are completely different shapes. Not much going on in this picture, except for the binding on his lapels.
And that concludes the first half of Album #1.
You may use these pictures if you wish, but please send a link back to me!

 So, what do you think? My commentary is pretty much useless and I'm sure there are people reading this that know way more about 19th century fashion than me. I'm guessing that these are from the 1870's or 80's, but these people did live in relatively small Canadian towns, so hard to know for sure.


  1. It's awesome that you have old pictures of family members. There's something really amazing about the history of your own family.

    1. Yes, it's especially amazing to see resemblance between long dead relatives and living relatives.

  2. What an interesting treasure that you found. Lucky you.

    I was zooming in on the picture of Lydia and it looks like she is wearing a very fine lacy black scarf that you can see through. There is one place that you can see part of her white lacy top showing through the fine black lacy scarf. I may be wrong...

    It looks like a rose at the neck with some type of pretty bow.

    Have you notice that they never smile in old photos. Everyone have either a very serious or apprehensive look.
    That how they want us to look on our passport photos.

    I'm looking forward to seeing more of those old photos.
    I bet that Louis N. would really know something about the making of those old photos.
    How time have changed.


    1. Yes, Lydia has a black lace scarf, it's the flowery thing that's got me confused.

      No one ever smiles in daguerreotypes because the exposure could last for several minutes, imagine trying to sit perfectly still with a smile for that long. I did see one 19th century picture of a smiling girl(Jeanne Samary) it was actually kind of creepy, daguerreotypes make eyes look weirdly shiny.

      Louis will have to come over and see the pictures eventually, I've got several 1930's editions of Popular Photography to give to him, he hasn't got around to it yet though.

  3. "By" could be short for Byron, maybe?

    1. That's the first thing I thought of - it's my brother's name. We used "By" occasionally, but somehow "Bob" stuck. And "Bubbles." :p

  4. "By" may also be short for Byrne or Byrd, both of which are names of that era. I did find "By" listed in one list of boy's names, but only one, and I've looked at dozens. Historical lists from US social security site are good, but it's not included there either. Will have to look at the genealogy records we have to see if there is anything there. If he was related by marriage (hence in the family album) then he may show up there.