Isabel Irving: American Stage Actress

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Isabel Irving (1871-1944) was an American actress born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Her stage career began in 1886. She performed in many performances of Shakespeare. She was also in more than 30 Broadway plays between 1894 and 1936.  These plays included “Merry Wives of Windsor” (1917) and “Uncle Vanya” (1930). The first cabinet photo was done at the studio of Napoleon Sarony in New York.  Sarony was a very famous photographer of his time and known for his photos of theatrical performers and other celebrities. The second photograph comes from the studio of William McKenzie Morrison who was located in the Haymarket Theatre building in Chicago, Illinois. The third cabinet card portrait features Miss Irving photographed by celebrated New York photographer Benjamin Falk. The fourth cabinet card was produced by Pach Brothers studio in New York City. To view a photograph of Isabel Irving’s sister, write “Evangeline Irving” in the search box and press search. To view other photographs by any of the four cited photographers, click on the category “Photographer: Falk, Photographer: Sarony, Photographer: Morrison, or Photographer: Pach Brothers.

PRETTY YOUNG STAGE ACTRESS GLADYS WALLIS (PHOTOGRAPH BY B J FALK)

gladys wallis_0003Gladys Wallis, theater star, is the subject of this portrait by celebrity photographer B. J. Falk. Miss Wallis appears to be very young when she posed for this cabinet card photograph. The image is numbered 16 in a series and has a copyright date of 1893. In fact, she was just eighteen years old when she sat for this portrait. Glady Wallis (1875-1953) lived an interesting life. The Florence Times (1932) tells some of her story in an article that is predominately about her husband Samuel Insull (1858-1938). The article was quite disparaging of  Insull and in the lead of the story the reporter writes “The keen brain of Samuel Insull built a 4,000,000,000 public utilities empire but he failed when he attempted to bring about his wife’s come-back as an actress after her 26 year absence from the stage”. The attempt cost him 200,00 dollars. Gladys Wallis’s was originally named Mary Bird. She was of Irish descent and upon becoming an actress was determined to be viewed as a respectable woman. She was anti alcohol and reportedly, anti sex. Insull had originally seen her as a “starry eyed and raven-haired young ingenue in an 1898 theater production in Chicago. She was just a teenager and he was 36 years-old starstruck admirer. They later met at a dinner party and two years later, they married. Gladys quickly retired from the stage and became a society lady. She had a number of estates and servants, was active in fund raising for charities, went to high society affairs and functions, and wore expensive clothing and jewelry. It is reported that she wasn’t an easy person to get along with and was not very well liked among the ladies of society. She and Insull reportedly had a tempestuous relationship and among their issues was her disinterest in sex. Insull supported her temperance beliefs. The couple had a son who eventually attended Yale University. In 1925,Wallis revealed her desire to return to the stage because of her desire for “self expression”. Her husband funded the theatrical endeavor and its proceeds were to be directed toward charity. Society turned out in mass for the opening night of what was to be a two week engagement where Mrs. Insull played the “coquettish role”of Lady Teazle. Attendees included Marshall Fields, the Armours, the Drakes, and the Pullmans. The success of this limited engagement spurred Wallis to return to Broadway. Wallis may have felt ready for Broadway but apparently Brodway wasn’t ready for Wallis and she returned to Chicago in 1927. She was not yet done with acting so she took a five year lease on a Chicago theater and established a performing company. This project failed and before long he company was operating at a loss of more than a thousand dollars a day. Things also did not go well for Mr. Insull. The depression severely impacted his business and eventually there were even charges filed against him. He fled to Europe with his wife where they entered “voluntary exile”. He was eventually deported from Europe but was well defended in a Chicago trial and found innocent of all charges. However, the Insulls had lost their fortune and at the time of his death, his estate was quite meager. There are a number of books available about Mr. Insull and they probably make quite interesting reading. This photograph was taken by B. J. Falk, New York City celebrity photographer. To learn more about this photographer and to see more of his images, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

JULIA MARLOWE: ESTEEMED AMERICAN STAGE ACTRESS

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Julia Marlowe (1865-1950) was born in England and as a young child moved to the United States with her family. In her early teens she began her theatrical career with a juvenile opera company. She began playing Shakespeare in her home town of Cincinnati, Ohio. She made her Broadway debut in 1895 and by the end of her career, had appeared in more than 70 Broadway productions. Her first husband was actor, Robert Tabor. Their marriage lasted six years. In 1904 she appeared in “When Knighthood was in Flower”. Great success in this play brought her financial independence. Earlier, in 1903, she appeared in ‘The Cavalier” and “Ingomar”. The New York Sun wrote about her performance in “Ingomar”; “There is not a woman player in America or in England that is – attractively considered- fit to unlace her shoe”. In 1904 she began a partnership with actor E. H. Sothern. They toured the United States performing various plays of Shakespeare. They were managed by Charles Frohman and later, the Shubert brothers. They were considered to be among the major Shakespearian actors of the day. In 1906, Marlowe played in “Jeanne d’Arc” and also as Salome in “John the Baptist”. Later, Sothern and Marlowe played in London but were not terrific box office successes there. In 1911 Marlowe and Sothern married each other. In 1920 and 1921, they made eleven phonograph recordings for the Victor Company. The top Cabinet Card was produced by Newsboy as a premium for their tobacco products. The photographer was Falk and the image is from 1892.

The second portrait of Julia Marlowe has a notation on the reverse of the card stating “Julia Marlowe Tabor”. Therefore, this photograph was likely taken during the time of her marriage to Tabor (1894-1900). The photographic studio that produced this portrait is  Klein & Guttenstein of 164 Wisconsin Street, in Milwaukee,  Wisconsin.  Klein and Guttenstein were leading photographers of their time. Wilson’s Photographic Magazine (1902) reveals that the two men  were very active in the Photographers Association of Wisconsin and other photography organizations. The photographers were considered part of a network of photographers skilled at producing publicity images of theatrical and vaudeville stars to be used in national magazines and other publications. The New York Public Library has a collection of portraits of actress Blanche Bates; produced by Klein & Guttenstein. The University of Pennsylvania Library has one of Klein & Guttenstein’s portraits of Julia Marlowe.

The third portrait of Julia Marlowe in the cabinet card gallery collection is photographed by Sarony, the famed celebrity photographer located in New York City.  This cabinet card is signed by the actress and dated 1890. Additonal photographs by Sarony can be viewed by clicking on the category “Photographers: Sarony”.

The fourth portrait of Miss Marlow features her in role in the production of “Countess Veleska”. The play was adapted for a German work, “The Tall Prussian”, by Rudolph Stratz. The play opened in New York in 1898 at the Knickerbocker Theatre. The review in the New York Times (1898) stated that the “drama was made wholly interesting by the personal charm and sincerity of Miss Marlowe”. In a sarcastic tone, the reviewer comments about Marlowe’s co star, Bassett Roe. The reviewer states that Roe has only two qualities of the man he was playing, “height and good looks”. The reviewer continues his scathing description of Roe; “The only time he actually warmed up was when he accidentally set his hair on fire. Even then he would have let it burn if Miss Marlowe had not gone to his rescue.” The photographic studio that produced the “Countess Veleska” cabinet card was Pach Brothers of New York City. Pach Brothers were photographers known for their photographs of celebrities of their era. To see additional photographs by the Pach Brothers, click on this site’s category of “Photographers: Pach Brothers”.

The fifth portrait of Julia Marlowe appears to be a photograph of the actress in costume for an unknown stage production. The image was photographed by Ye Rose Studio of Providence, Rhode Island. The reverse of the card indicated that the studio was opened in 1886. The studio was located in the Conrad building in downtown Providence. The building still exists. Other photographs by the Ye Rose Studio can be viewed by clicking on the category “Photographer: Ye Rose”.

Portrait number six is an excellent example of the beauty of Julia Marlowe. This image, from 1888, captures Ms. Marlowe at the young age of twenty-three. The photographer of this portrait was B. J. Falk, a celebrity photographer located in New York City, New York. To view other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

The seventh portrait is another example of a B. J. Falk image. The photograph features a costumed Julia Marlowe in the production of “Cymbeline“. Cymbeline is a play by William Shakespeare that was based on legends about the early Celtic British King,  Cunobelinus. The play deals with themes that include innocence and jealousy. Ms. Marlowe plays Imogen, the King’s daughter. Her expression in the photograph shows fear and concern as she looks at someone or something in the distance. Her left hand shades her eyes while her right hand clutches her belted dagger. A stamp on the reverse of  this cabinet card reveals that it was formerly owned by Culver Pictures of New York City, New York. Culver Pictures has been collecting photographs and illustrations from the 19th and first half of the 20th century, since 1926. These pictures are used in books, films, and other forms of media. At the time that this cabinet card was stamped by the company, Culver Pictures was located in New York City.

Portrait number eight is a close-up photograph of Miss Marlowe. The photographer of this cabinet card is the studio of Rose & Sands whose gallery was located in Providence, Rhode Island. Note that photograph number five also came from the Rose studio, but at that time, the gallery was called, the Ye Rose studio. The Wilson’s Photographic Magazine (1899) reports that Rose and Sands were the proprietors of Ye Rose. A humorous headline in a photography magazine stated “Providence Provides for All, And Rose Provides for Providence”.  Print on the reverse of this cabinet card reveals that the Rose & Sands studio was opened in 1886 and that it specialized in “High Class Portraits from Cabinet to Life Size”. Also of interest, like photograph number seven, there is a stamp on the reverse of the photograph with the name “Culver Pictures Inc”.

Photograph number nine features the beautiful Miss Marlowe displaying a mischievous smile. Note her engaging large eyes. She is wearing a somewhat revealing dress (for the cabinet card era) and has a wonderful hat atop her head. This cabinet card photograph was published in 1888 by Benjamin Falk of New York City.  The image is marked with the number sixty-nine.

Portrait number ten is a closeup of Julia Marlowe with her head covered, but with her pretty face very visible. She is likely in costume for this photograph. The photograph is taken by B. J. Falk of New York City and has a copyright date of 1888. The cabinet card is marked number “86”.

The eleventh photograph captures Miss Marlowe staring hypnotically at a flower. Someone, has written below her name that the image features her in the role of Parthenia in the production of “Ingomar”.  The New York Times (1904) reviews the play and Miss Marlowe’s performance on opening night at the Empire Theater in New York City. The newspaper reports that Frederick Halm’s play was “impossibly romantic and deliciously sentimental piece of old-fashioned theatrics. Tyrone Power played Ingomar and he was described as “vigourous and picturesque” but the article added that his voice was “not at its best”. The review pointed out that Marlowe’s appearance in this play was to be her last appearance as an independent star before joining E. H. Sothern’s Shakespearean repertory. In regard to Marlowe’s acting in this play, it was written that she played a “dear little prig – adorably dear” (prig can be defined as smug or arrogant) and she presented “a masterpiece of harmonious, modulated, and sustained acting”. The 1904 performance of Julia Marlowe in “Ingomar” marked a return performance for this accomplished actress. The New York Times (1888) wrote a very positive review of the opening night performance in Washington D.C.. The appreciative audience included three Supreme Court Justices and a number of members of the Chinese Embassy. This cabinet card was produced by the previously mentioned Ye Rose Studio of Providence, Rhode Island and it likely dates back to her 1888 performance in the role.

The twelfth cabinet card was produced by Benjamin Falk of New York City. He posed Miss Marlowe next to a spinning wheel. Her low cut dress makes this image a bit risque for the cabinet card era. If Falk or Miss Marlowe thought that looking up at the camera would create a “fetching appearance”, I would contend that their efforts failed. Rather than “fetching”, she appears dazed. The actress was a beautiful woman and provocativeness was not necessary to enhance her image. This photograph was produced in 1888 and was part of a series (#23).

Cabinet Card number thirteen is part of a series that includes Cabinet Card number ten. Both cards were photographed by B. J. Falk and have a copyright date of 1888. Both portraits are close-ups but this one is captures Marlowe looking at the camera while number ten offers a profile view. Falk really captured the actresses eyes. Her eyes are beautiful and they are haunting at the same time. This photograph is marked number number 83 of the series.

VIOLET LLOYD: ENGLISH STAGE ACTRESS AND A PIQUANT SOUBRETTE

 

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The top photograph features stage actress Violet Lloyd posing for celebrity photographer Benjamin J. Falk at his New York City studio. Ms. Lloyd is adorned with flowers in her hair and looks quite beautiful as she poses with her rather large fan. Violet Lloyd was an English actress and singing comedienne. The New York Times (1896) published a favorable review of  “The Geisha”, a play appearing at Daly’s Theater. The critic wrote that  “The greatest individual hit last night was made by Violet Lloyd, an English Soubrette (female stock character in opera and theater)……….She is a piquant (engagingly provocative)  little person, with a droll (amusing in an odd way) but pretty face, sufficient voice, a sense of humor, and plenty of agility”.  It is clear that turn of the century newspaper writers were either better writers than today’s journalists, or else, their editors were more likely to  encourage and expect higher quality writing.  As a result, newspaper articles had a more literary style and used advanced vocabulary. Please forgive me for providing the definitions of some of the words in the quotation; I couldn’t stop myself. A stamp on the reverse of this cabinet card indicates that it was once part of the collection of Charles L. Ritzmann. Other photographs from Ritzmann can be viewed by clicking on the category “Charles Ritzmann Collection”. The second photograph was also done by a well known New York City celebrity photographer. Aime Dupont was of Belgian origin and he captured Miss. Lloyd wearing clothing that was likely costume from a play. Note the fan she holds above her head. Her pose, with her hand on her hip, likely reflects feigned shock or dismay. This cabinet card is also part of the Ritzmann collection. To view more photographs by Dupont and to learn more about him, click on the category “Photographer: Dupont”.

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PORTRAIT OF “LITTLE OLLIE”: A GIRL AND HER MANDOLIN

LITTLE OLLIE_0002This cabinet card portrait features “Little Ollie” and her mandolin. At least I think her instrument is a mandolin. Confirmation from a cabinet card gallery visitor would be appreciated. This little girl performer is adorable. She is wearing a cute hat and her jewelry includes a necklace and bracelet. The reverse of the photograph has an inscription stating “From Little Ollie Herself”. Benjamin J. Falk (1853-1925), a noted celebrity photographer, produced this photograph. His studio was located on Broadway in New York City. The image is numbered on the bottom right hand corner.To view more photographs by this photographer, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”. Research revealed not further information about “Little Ollie”. However, a different photograph of her, also by Falk, is in the collection of the Library of Congress.

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Published in: on April 17, 2014 at 10:22 am  Comments (3)  
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PORTRAIT OF BEAUTIFUL ACTRESS HELEN STANDISH (PHOTOGRAPHED BY B J FALK)

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This cabinet card portrait features pretty actress Helen Standish. Famed celebrity photographer B J Falk produced this image and Miss Standish’s choice to wear a dress showing some cleavage, makes this photograph somewhat risque for it’s era. In addition, her expression can be interpreted as being enticing. Research revealed very little about Helen Standish or her career. She appears in number of cigarette card series including one produced by Dukes Cigarettes (“Leading Actors and Actresses”) which can be seen below. Her name appears in the New York Times (1887) review of the play “The Pyramid” which appeared at the Star Theater. The reviewer states that Miss Standish and another actress in the play “were not equal to the demands of their roles”. Ouch! The reverse of the cabinet card has a stamp from “Culver Service” which was a New York City company that charged the media for the use of photographs coming from their vast image archives. The reverse of the photograph also has the stamp of photographer J. M. Russell, 126 Tremont Street, in Boston, Massachusetts. Russell was a well known music publisher in Boston and it is possible that he also was involved in the sale of celebrity cabinet  cards.

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CORINNE: FAMOUS CHILD ACTRESS AND SUBJECT OF A SENSATIONAL CHILD ABUSE CASE

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The actress pictured in these cabinet cards is Corrine.  Corrine, like Elvis or Selena, was a performer that received national recognition and was known by just her first name. In the top portrait by celebrity photographer B. J. Falk, Corrine looks to be teenager or young adult. She is dressed in theatrical costume. Corinne was the daughter of actress Jennie Kimball. Kimball acted in the theater between 1865 and 1873. The year of her retirement, she became the mother of Corinne, who the New York Times (1896) labelled “the most famous of all the child actresses of this country”. It is not clear how Kimball and her husband came to raise Corinne, but is was speculated that she was adopted as an orphan. Kimball trained her young daughter for the stage. Corrine debuted in the theater at age two and a half.  At five years of age she played the part of  “Little Buttercup” in the Boston production of “Pinafore”. She played the role more than one hundred times. At fifteen years of age she was traveling as head of her own theater company. Jennie Kimball doubled as Corinne’s mother and manager. The New York Times (1896) reported that Corinne “was a goldmine” during her early days for Mrs. Kimball and remained a major money producer through the time the article was written. At the time the article appeared, Corinne was twenty-two years old.  Jennie Kimball’s successful management of her daughter’s career wasn’t appreciated by all observers. The New York Times (1881) asserted that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children objected to the way Corinne was being raised and successfully pursued custody of the child. During the custody hearing, eight year-old Corinne was put on the stand and interrogated by the society’s lawyer. He asked her how many times she was photographed and she didn’t know but said “she was never photographed in tights nor with her limbs and breast exposed”. The lawyer’s questioning revealed that the child had never attended school. However, Jennie Kimball did give her “lessons” each morning. The lawyer then gave Corinne an impromptu writing/spelling test during her testimony. The attorney also prompted the child to say she had never attended sunday school and didn’t know what a bible was nor had she ever been taught anything about Jesus Christ. The society lawyer was initially able to convince the judge to remove the child from the custody of Mrs Kimball because she was “unlawfully exhibited and employed” in dancing, singing and acting on the theatrical stage. Mrs. Kimball was allowed to take her daughter for a brief period to change her clothing but was assigned an escort to insure that the child would be brought to the society. Mrs Kimball was advised by George Hackett, the manager of a Providence opera house that if she took her daughter from New York to Jersey City, New Jersey; the girl would be out of the courts jurisdiction and she could keep her daughter. Mrs. Kimball followed his suggestion, and allowed a man to spirit the child out of state. As a result, Mrs. Kimball was charged with abduction and she ended up back in court. After a short time, the judge considered all the testimony that he heard and decided to return Corinne to her parents (he called them guardians). He believed that they were loving toward the child and responsible enough to continue raising her. Interestingly, he had something to say about the religious angle pursued by the society lawyer. The judge wrote that the the US constitution protected Corinne’s parents from being punished for not providing religious education to their daughter.  Corinne continued her acting career and eventually became involved in burlesque theater. The New York Times (1894) wrote “Corinne has grown up and proves a lively and entertaining performer. The article adds that “she has no large share of original talent, musical or dramatic, but she can sing and dance “well enough”. The second cabinet card picturing Miss Corinne was published by Newsboy (#20 of a series). She is wearing jewelry galore and flowers in her hair. What is that contraption that she is wearing around her waist? Is it a pouch? If so, what is it meant to carry? Hopefully some cabinet card gallery visitors with fashion expertise can explain her unusual dress.

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MRS JAMES BROWN POTTER (SOCIALITE AND THEATRE ACTRESS)

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In writing about Mrs James Brown Potter, an author stated “She was singularly beautiful with her pale delicate chiseled face, long dark eyes, and hair like burnished bronze with copper lights”. Mrs Brown Potter (1859-1936) was born Mary Cora Urquhart,  the daughter of a wealthy  New Orleans Colonel. She was one of the first American society women to join the stage. In 1877 she married a very wealth New York socialite, James Brown Potter. That same year she made her stage debut at Theatre Royal in Brighton, England. Soon thereafter, she partnered with actor Kyrle Bellew and they frequently performed together over a ten year period. She performed in the United States and in Europe. She retired from the stage in 1912. She was active in raising money for war charities during the Second Boer War. Mrs Brown Potter was considered a competent actress, but not an outstanding performer. In this photograph, Mrs. Potter looks very beautiful as she peers through a curtained doorway. Her gown was likely made by the best dress makers of the time and was assuredly very expensive. Falk, the photographer of this cabinet card, was a famous celebrity photographer in New York City. To see other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

The second photograph of Cora Potter was photographed by Kuebler of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She appears to be in costume and is clearly a beautiful woman with fetching eyes. To view other photographs by and to learn more about Kuebler, click on the category “Photographer: Kuebler”.

The third photograph of Mrs Potter was produced by Jose Maria Mora, a celebrity photographer based in New York City. The image was part of a series (#7). To view other photographs by this photographer, click on the category “Photographer: Mora”. Mrs Potter looks quite elegant in this cabinet card portrait. Her hat can best be described as “floral”. The photograph is stamped on the reverse with the name of the gallery that originally sold it (“John Hoch Art Store, 118 Court Street, Boston”). Hoch’s obituary appears in the Bulletin of Photography and the article reports that he was the first among Boston’s photographers to sell photographs of celebrities. He had been engaged in the photography and picture frame business in Boston for more than fifty years. The obituary mentions that he was of German heritage and was 84 years old at the time of his death. His cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage.

LILLIAN RUSSELL: CELEBRATED AMERICAN ACTRESS AND SINGER

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Lillian Russell (1860-1922) is pictured in the top Cabinet Card photograph by famed New York celebrity photographer, Falk. Lillian Russell is captured in costume as she appeared in “Pepita” (1886). Russell was a very famous American actress and singer who was known for her beauty, style, voice and stage presence. Her theater career began with roles in comic operas including the work of Gilbert and Sullivan. She married composer Edward Solomon in 1884 and two years later, he was arrested for bigamy.  She performed in New York and elsewhere in starring roles in comic opera and musical theatre. In 1904 she switched to dramatic roles due to voice problems. She later also appeared in vaudeville. She retired from the stage in 1919. She later wrote newspaper columns, advocated for women suffrage, and was a popular lecturer.  She married four times and her longest marriage was to Diamond Jim Brady who supported her extravagant lifestyle for four decades. It is interesting to note that the New York Times (4/2/1886) reported that during the performance of “Pepita”, an opera by her husband, Edward Solomon; there were obvious signs of marital discord observed on stage. The newspaper blamed issues revolving around Russell’s interfering mother, as well as, issues pertaining to Russell’s sudden prosperity. The newspaper article correctly predicted that there would soon be a divorce. The second cabinet card, is also photographed by Falk. This photograph provides a close-up image of Lillian Russell and is a testimonial to her beauty. The third cabinet card was published by Newsboy and used by the tobacco company as a premium (#340). The photographer was Falk and the image was copyrighted in 1893. To view a collection cabinet cards by Falk; click on the category “Photographer: Falk”. The fourth cabinet card is another image produced by B. J. Falk. Miss Russell is in costume and is posed provocatively partially behind sheer lace. The fifth cabinet card, also by Falk, provides a terrific profile portrait of the beautiful Miss Russell.


ANNIE SOMERVILLE: STAGE ACTRESS PHOTOGRAPHED BY BENJAMIN FALK

SOMMERVILLE_0001Stage star, Annie Somerville is featured in this cabinet card portrait by celebrity photographer Benjamin Falk in New York City. The curly haired actress is pretty and thin waisted. She is wearing a velvet type costume and has a sword at her side. Research yielded little information about Miss Somerville. She appeared in a number of actress series issued by tobacco companies. Her named is listed as part of the cast of Evangeline when the play appeared at the Fourteenth Street Theater in New York City. The reverse of the photograph has the stamp of photographer J. M. Russell, 126 Tremont Street, in Boston, Massachusetts. Russell was a well known music publisher in Boston and it is possible that he also was involved in the sale of celebrity cabinet  cards.  To view other photographs by Falk, click on the category “Photographer: Falk”.

Published in: on September 1, 2013 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  
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