The salty gentleman featured in this cabinet card photograph appears to be a uniformed US merchant ship captain. The seaman is wearing a badge depicting an anchor on his chest. He also has stars on his sleeves and is wearing lapel pins. H. F. Hatch of New Bedford, Massachusetts is the photographer. An advertisement on the reverse of the image advertises that the gallery sells one dozen cabinet cards for five dollars. Such a deal! Henry F. Hatch is listed in the 1880 census. The document reports that he was born in Massachusetts in 1837. He was married to Etta Hatch and they were living together in New Bedford with their daughter Cecila (age 18). Henry was working as a photographer. Business directories from New Bedford indicate that he worked as a photographer from at least 1865 through 1895. Research uncovered an 1880’s advertising trade card for Hatch’s studio. The advertising copy on the card must have put fear in the hearts of the young mothers of New Bedford. The trade card’s copy stated that “Hatch loves to take babies”. It would be amazing if the trade card encouraged any parents to take their babies to the studio. However, it is not amazing that a New Bedford photographic studio produced a portrait of a ship captain. New Bedford is nicknamed “The Whaling City” because in the nineteenth century it was one of the most important whaling and fishing ports in the United States.
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