This real photo postcard features an adorable little girl hugging a giant toy rabbit. The rabbit appears very life like, save it’s size. The young girl exhibits an expression that looks more like fear than than affection. The postcard was published by Rotophot Berlin (RPH). Rotophot made it’s debut in Berlin, Germany around the turn of the century (1900). The company had other European offices including London and Budapest. They published many different postcard topics including stage stars. Many of their early postcards were tinted. Eventually Rotophot morphed into “Ross Verlag” a postcard company that collectors know for the many postcards they produced featuring actors and actresses. The postcard’s postmark indicates that it was mailed in 1907. It is addressed to someone in Tuscany, Italy.

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Published in: on June 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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A pretty young woman with smiling eyes poses for her portrait at the Bellsmith Studio in Denver, Colorado. She appears to be in her teenage years. She is wearing a lovely dress and a corsage of roses. The photographer of this image is Harold S. Bellsmith. At one point his business was known as Gold Medal Studio. Bellsmith is listed as a photographer in the Denver business directory from 1890 through 1898. The Photographic Times (1890) announced the opening of his Denver studio. The Photographic Times (1892) reported that Bellsmith experienced a great deal of success as a “high class” photographer. If this cabinet card represents the quality of his work, than he was a talented photographer.

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Published in: on June 21, 2016 at 3:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This vintage real photo postcard features stage actress Julie Opp (1871-1921).  Miss Opp was an American stage actress who was for many years popular in America as well as in Europe. She was the wife of actor William Faversham. She married him after the pair co-starred in the Broadway production of “The Royal Rival” (1902). The internet Broadway data base indicates that Miss Opp appeared in six Broadway shows from 1901 through 1911. Julie Opp was born in New York City in 1871. Her Bavarian father ran a saloon on lower Manhattan”s Bowery Street and was active in local politics.  Her mother was Irish-American. Julie began her education in public schools but her mother decided to transfer her to a local convent to receive her education. The young girl shocked  the sisters and bishop when she told them that she wanted to become a ballet dancer when she grew up. By the time she graduated, she had replaced her ambition to dance, with becoming a writer. Her first job was being a a journalist with the New York Recorder. She was a fashion writer. As part of her work as a journalist, she became involved with many people in the theatre world including Sarah Bernhardt and Emma Calve. The show business performers tried to convince her to become an actress. As a result she dabbled in acting but in 1896 she chose the stage over writing and performed in Shakespeare’s “As You Like it” at London’s St. James Theatre. A review of her performance seen in “To-Day” (1896) stated she was “charming” and “equipped for the performance of brilliant work, either on the press or stage”. In 1906 she published “The Squaw Man: A Novel”. She fell seriously ill in 1914 while traveling abroad with her husband and two sons. She appeared to recover and performed again, but soon suffered a relapse causing her to retire from acting. She then spent her remaining years at her residence in New York City and her country house on Long Island. She died after a failed operation in 1921. This postcard was published by the Rotary Photo Company as part of the Rotary Photographic Series (no. 1572 B). Miss Opp was photographed by L. Caswall Smith. Lizzie Caswall Smith (1870-1958) was a British photographer who operated in the early 1900’s. She specialized in photographing members of society and celebrities. Many of her photographs were used for postcards. She was involved in the Women’s Suffrage movement and photographed many of the leading suffragettes. She also photographed many actors including Billie Burke and Maude Fealy. She operated the Gainsborough Studio from 1907 through 1920 (309 Oxford Street) and moved to a new location (90 Great Russell Street) where she remained until she retired in 1930 at the age of 60 years-old. Her most famous photograph is a portrait of Florence Nightingale taken in 1910. It was auctioned in 1908 and sold for 5500 pounds which is an equivalent today of nearly 8,000 dollars. The National Portrait Gallery has 84 portraits associated with Lizzie Caswall Smith.

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An inscription on the reverse of this cabinet card portrait reveals that the subject’s name in Edwin Phelps. The photograph was taken at the Brainerd Photo Company in Rome (Oneida County), New York. Preliminary research tells us a little bit about Mr. Phelps. He was born in Oneida County in 1829. He was married to Amanda Howard (1832-1904). The 1880 census indicates that the couple had three sons living at home with them. He worked as a carpenter during at least four decades.  He died in 1902 in Baltimore, Maryland and is buried in Forest Park Cemetery in Camden (Oneida County), New York. The images seen below include a portrait of Phelps taken at a later date than the portrait seen above, and a photograph of Phelps’s gravestone. The photographer that produced this image is Jonathan Millard Brainerd (1851-1926). Brainerd was born in Oneida, New York. After finishing school, Brainerd began working for photographer H. Hovey and after two years the two men became partners in a firm named appropriately Hovey & Brainerd. The business partnership lasted ten years until Brainerd bought out Hovey. Brainerd was married to Sarah C. Knight in 1874. Brainerd’s studios included locations in Rome (112 West Dominick Street) and in Oneida (28 Main Street). He had an interest in public service which is reflected in the three years that he spent as an alderman and his position as treasurer of State Custodial Asylum. He died in Utica, New York and is buried in Rome Cemetery in Rome, New York. His obituary appeared in the Rome Sentinel (1926) and the article included an interview with his colleague, photographer Betty Filchard. She noted that Brainerd was a friend of the famed photography entrepreneur George Eastman, one of the founders of Eastman Kodak. She stated that Brainerd was a genius and had invented a new camera shutter that Eastman had patented under his own name and “broke Jonathan’s heart”.


                                                                                                                               LATER PORTRAIT OF EDWIN PHELPS



                                                                                                                                     GRAVESTONE OF EDWIN PHELPS



                                                                                                                           PORTRAIT OF JONATHAN MILLARD BRAINERD



Published in: on June 17, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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This vintage real photo postcard features stage actress Miss Denise Orme. She is very attractive and beautifully dressed. She is wearing a fur stole and and fur muffs. She has a lovely hat and wonderful smile. Miss Orme’s given name was Jessie Smither, and was later known as Duchess of Leinster. Denise Orme (1885-1960) was an English music hall singer, actress and musician who was a regular performeer at the Alhambra and Gaiety Theatres in London during the early years of the twentieth century. Her mother was a professor of music. She trained for her theatrical career at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music. Her stage debut was in 1906 in the chorus at Daly’s Theatre in London. Later that same year she appeared in the title role of “See See” at the Prince of Wales Theatre. In 1906 she participated in gramophone recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado”. Her marital history reveals that she had a predilection to choosing husbands that were “rich and famous”. She was married to an English Baron, A Danish millionaire, and an Irish duke. She was the maternal grandmother of Aga Khan IV.who is the current Imam of Nizari Ismailism which is a denomination of of Ismailism within Shia Islam with 15 million adherents. He is also a British business magnate. Miss Orme’s photographic portrait was taken by the Foulsham and Banfield Studio. Foulsham & Banfield were well known celebrity photographers. Frank Foulsham and A. C. Banfield operated a studio in the 1900’s through the 1920’s. The postcard was published by Rotary Photo and is part of the Rotary Photographic Series (#4098 Q). The postcard has a postmark from London, England, and dated 1907. The postmark date reveals that this portrait of Miss Orme was taken at the beginning of her stage career. In the message section of the postcard, the sender asks the receiver, “What do you think of Denise?”. In addition, the sender asserts on the front of the postcard “Nice hat, isn’t it?”. I have to agree; not only is Miss Orme lovely, so is her hat.

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Between 1950 and 1967, CBS television ran a popular game show in which four panelists asked question in order to guess the occupation of a guest. The name of the game was “What’s My Line?”. Now you get to play the game except that you have to use observational skills rather than ask questions. What do you think is the occupation of the four men seen in this cabinet card photograph. Three of the men are in uniform and wearing hats displaying identification numbers. At least one of the three is wearing striped pants. The fourth man is well dressed and wearing civilian clothing and a light colored hat. He is also chomping on a cigar. My guess is that the men work for a railroad. It is also possible that they are firemen. Any comments conjecturing about their line of work, would be appreciated. The name of the photographer and the location of his/her studio is unknown.

Published in: on June 15, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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cdv beard

A well dressed handsome middle aged man poses for his cartes de visite (cdv) portrait at the Harding Studio in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. The gentleman has an interesting beard. His handsome face is visible because he lacks a mustache. The photographer of this image is Addison Delavan Harding (1847-1908). At one point in time, his studio was located at 42 Main Street in Susquehanna. His obituary appears in the magazine “Snap Shots” (1908). The article reports that he worked over 40 years as a photographer. He was born in Binghamton, New York. He learned the business of photography while in the employ of a photographer in Towanda, Pennsylvania. Harding opened a studio there in 1865. He married Fannie V. Harding (Shipman) (1847-1945) in 1867. He moved his business to Susquehanna in 1873. After Hardings death, his son (D S Harding) took over the business and operated it until 1942. Fanny lived to the age of 98 years-old. Addison and Fannie Harding are buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, Pennsylvania.

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The little girl riding this beautiful pony is very adorable. She is plainly dressed and wearing high socks and sandal type shoes. She is likely not an equestrian, judging by her clothing.  The little girl and pony were photographed by W. J. Nolan & Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Preliminary research found other photographs by the Nolan firm that featured children on the same pinto as seen in this photograph. Apparently, Nolan liked to use the pony as a prop in his photographic work.

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Published in: on June 13, 2016 at 11:11 am  Comments (3)  
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Alonzo Harlow is the photographer of this cabinet card image of a woman wearing glasses. The woman is wearing a fur trimmed dress or jacket as well as a headband and earrings. This photograph was taken in Harlow’s Claremont studio. Alonzo Harlow is listed in the 1880 US census as being a native of Vermont and as living in Montpelier with his wife and a boarder. Alonzo (age 32) worked as a photographic artist. His wife Lucy (age 27) kept house, and the boarder, George Dale (age 23) also worked as a photographer. Alonzo was listed in the 1890 through 1892 Montpelier city directories as a photographer. The 1900 census found Harlow living in Boston, Massachusetts and working as a real estate clerk.  To view other photographs by Harlow, click on the category “Photographer: Harlow”.

Published in: on June 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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This vintage real photo postcard features an adorable little boy posing with his Coaster Express wagon and his cute dog. The freckle faced boy is displaying a sheepish grin, and why shouldn’t he? After all, he is spending time with his favorite toy and his very best friend. Boy, toy, and dog are posed outside and in front of a wooden house. The AZO stamp box indicates that the postcard dates to sometime between 1904 and 1918.

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Published in: on June 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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