HANDSOME BANGORChalmers studio in Bangor, Maine produced this photograph of a formally dressed and handsome young man. The reverse of the photograph has the subject’s name and a few more details listed.  The fellows name is C. L. (possibly G. L.) Surall of the University of Maine, class of 1899.  This image is likely a graduation picture.

Published in: on July 13, 2013 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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A handsome young man preens for the camera at the Ramsdell & Halloran studio in Bangor, Maine. Writing on the reverse of the photograph is not totally legible but appears to state “Board of Editors” and “Kallour” or Kallow”. Despite the written clues on the reverse of the photograph, research did not uncover any information pertaining to this gentleman’s identity. Investigating did reveal that one of the photographers of this image was female. Miss Emily I Ramsdell (1856-1917) appears in the 1880 census as living with her parents in Atkinson, Maine and working as a school teacher. Examining several Bangor city directories reveals that she was employed as a photographer as early as 1892 and as late as 1914. The 1887 through 1899 directories show that she was partnered with Thomas F. Halloran. The Bulletin of Photography (1917) reports her death at age sixty-one.


PRETTYGIRLINBATH_0004This cabinet card features a very pretty young woman in Bath, Maine. If you were expecting to see a pretty young woman in a bathtub, sorry for your disappointment or surprise. The young woman in this image may actually be a teenager. If so, she sure is displaying a lot of poise for a girl that age. She has an expression that makes it appear that she is oblivious of being photographed and is intensely staring at something in the distance. She is wearing a lace shawl with a pin. The subject of this image is unidentified. The photographer is J. C. Higgins of Bath, Maine. Higgins was an active photographer in Bath in the 1880′s and 1890′s. He was an excellent photographer. One of his photographs (Man in a Bottle) was displayed in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA). Another one of his photographs can be seen on the website of the Maine Historical Society. Higgin’s son, Charles R. Higgins was also quite a prominent photographer. He apprenticed to his father and later took over the studio. He became known for his hand colored photography work which was in a style similar to Wallace Nutting. Many of his images were depictions of nature and New England scenery.


MISS LIBBY_0007A young boy dressed in a double breasted jacket and wearing a tie poses for this portrait by Miss Libby of Norway, Maine.  Minnie Libby (1863-1947) had a sixty year business career in Norway, Maine. She was a very able photographer and also an eccentric. She was the daughter of a Maine born blacksmith who was also a carriage maker and dealer. The 1880 census lists her at age sixteen as being an artist. She was sent to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and developed an interest in photography. She worked as a studio photo retoucher while living in Boston. In 1882 she worked as a photo retoucher at the Anthony Crockett Picture Studio in Norway. In 1885 her father constructed a building to house her first studio. By the 1890′s Miss Libby was quite successful. In 1905 her father helped her buy a new studio which caused some controversy in the town of  Norway. The seller of the building neglected to tell his tenant, a photographer, that the building was sold. The tenant photographer took ads out in the local paper denouncing the underhanded business practices of Miss Libby who ultimately occupied the building. Miss Libby’s response to the ads was to take out her own ads in which she said that she would use the advertising space to talk about her business, and not to make misleading statements about her competitors. In 1940, Life Magazine discovered Miss Libby. They did a feature on her life as a photographer, both past and present. Minnie Libby also produced oil paintings while working as a photographer. She was a talented artist and did many paintings of plants and flowers as well as landscapes. The Life Magazine article describes Miss Libby’s appearance. She most often wore knickers, men’s shirts, and a flowing bow tie. She was also described as a “first class photographer”. To view other photographs by Miss Libby, click on the category “Photographer: Libby”.



FEMALE PHOTOG_0002This cabinet card features a bust portrait of a young woman. This is likely an early image from the cabinet card era. The photographer of this image is “Mrs. Barker” of Gardiner, Maine. Research found very little information about this pioneer female photographer. The 1880 United Startes census reveals that Julia R. Barker lived in Gardiner, Maine and worked as a photographer. Her husband, Eugene Barker, was employed as a railroad engineer. Both were 35 years old at the time of the census.

Published in: on December 12, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  
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An inscription on the reverse of this photograph identifies this pretty young woman in the image as Louella Pauline Bishop. Research was unsuccessful in mining any biographical information about her. The photograph was produced by the Davis studio in Presque Isle, Maine. Apparently, Davis wanted to be known as a fotografist rather than photographer. Researching the meaning of the word “Fotographist”,  I learned its actually an English word that is simply another way of saying photographer. Prescott Davis was born in 1863. He married his wife Annie in 1889. He appears in the 1900 U.S. census as being a photographer and living in Presque Isle. One wonders if his out of town friends referred to him as “Prescott from Presque”. Presque Isle is located in northeast Maine. It was settled in 1828 and was originally named Fairbanks. The town was located in no man’s land. The territory was claimed by both British Canada and the United States. It was called Presque Isle because the French meaning of Presque is peninsula and the town is located on a peninsula between the Aroostock River and the Presque Isle Stream. In earlier times the town was known for its involvement in agriculture and the lumber business.


This photographic portrait captures a good looking and well dressed gentleman posing at the J. F. Gerrity Company studio in Bangor, Maine. The gentleman in this photograph has a wonderful well groomed mustache and is wearing what appears to be a pin back button on his lapel. There is a design on the button that I can not identify. The reverse of the photograph has an inscription that is dated 1898. The subject is identified as Harry H McLean. The message states “Merry Xmas, Happy New Year” and the word “University” followed by an unidentified word. An advertisement in a Bangor Board of Trade publication (1899) indicates that the Gerrity studio had two locations; 11 State Street in Bangor, and 244 Miiddle Street in Portland, Maine. City of Bangor directories indicate that he also owned a lumber business in Bangor. Census data reveals that Gerrity was born in 1855 and had at least two wives; Nancy (1920 census) and Edith (1930 census). No biographical information about Harry McLean was found.

Published in: on October 4, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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A pretty and elegant looking young woman poses for her portrait at the Singhi studio in Rockland, Maine. She is beautifully dressed and wearing a watch chain emanating from a watch in her dress pocket. She appears very business-like. The photographer was named John F. Singhi (1834-1906). He was a native of Maine but his father was born in Italy. Mr. Singhi was a participant in the Civil War. He entered the Union Army as a Private in the 4th Infantry Regiment of Maine. He was mustered in in April, 1861 and mustered out in July,, 1864. He was promoted to Corporal in 1862. Upon entry into the army, he was listed as a leader of the company band and Fife Major. The fourth regiment was assembled in Rockland. In all, 144o men served in the regiment during the war and 170 of them died in or from battle. Forty men died in Confederate prisons and 137 soldiers died from disease. The Fourth Regiment participated in many major battles including The First Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.  After the service, he worked as a photographer. He was listed in Rockland city directories as a photographer from 1877 through 1897. In addition to soldiering, music and photography; John Singhi liked to get married. He especially liked marrying younger women. The 1870 US census revealed that John lived with a woman named Frances who was presumably his wife. In 1872 he married Hannah C. Bartlett.  John and Hannah were reported in the 1880 census. John was 46 while his wife was 31. In 1898, John married Caroline Look who was 17 years his junior. In 1901, John married Georgie Dow, a woman who was 13 years younger than him. In 1906, John Singhi died at age 72. His death certificate listed his cause of death to be “Shock (Paralysis)”. From that description, one imagines he died from a stroke. Perhaps cavorting with his numerous younger wives was deleterious to his health.


This photographic portrait features a pretty young lady posing for her portrait at the Flagg and Plummer gallery in Lewiston, Maine. The subject has quite the sour expression on her face. She looks exasperated, as if she has spent more time and effort at the photographer than she cared to. A pencilled inscription on the reverse of the photograph reveals that the Flagg and Plummer studio was the successor to the Curtis and Ross studio. The  notation also discloses that the young woman in this photograph was named Florence L. Bisbee and that the image was produced in 1899. According to the U.S. Census of 1900, Florence Bisbee was born in 1877 and lived in Auborn, Maine. She lived with her father (Byron), mother (Adiline), and two older brothers. Florence worked as a dry goods clerk, her father was a grocery clerk, and her brothers worked as shoe cutters. By the 1910  census, Florence was employed as shoe stitcher and in the 1920 census she was still living with her parents at the age of forty-three. The 1930 census found her as a head of household and  living with an older woman. She was still a shoe stitcher. Very little information could be found about this photographs creators.  The Flagg and Plummer studio is mentioned in an article in The Bulletin of Photography (1915) concerning the formation of an advertising group of photographers.

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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This cabinet card features an older man with a scruffy, but nicely shaped, pointy beard. In the style of his day, he has just the top button of his jacket fastened. The photographer of this image is Howard  M. Smith of Portland, Maine. Smith operated studios at 2574 Middle Street and at 478 Congress Street, in Portland. Smith’s studio is listed in an 1891 Portland business directory. To view other photographs of unusual beards, click on the category “Beards (Only the Best)”.

Published in: on September 21, 2011 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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