Most people don’t think of Penacook, New Hampshire as the center of turn of the century fashion. However, in 1890, a new fashion trend was born in tiny Penacook. Traditional fashion centers like Paris and New York City were blindsided by the innovative dress designs coming out of Penacook. Reptilian Wear was introduced in 1890 and was overwhelmingly the most well received of all these designs. Penacook area photographers quickly were called upon to sharpen their skills in fashion photography because their services were in high demand by the rapidly growing local clothing industry. This cabinet card was produced by the studio of M. S. Lamprey who began operating in Penacook in 1858. The woman in this image is wearing an excellent example of a Reptilian Wear dress. This particular dress was sold under the Iguana label. The model in this photograph was not identified. She is wearing a necklace from which hangs a cross. If you doubt the veracity of this story; you would be correct to do so. Here is some non fiction commentary about this cabinet card. The photographer is Maurice S. Lamprey (1835-1912). The 1860 census finds Lamprey living with his parents and siblings and working as a varnisher. He enlisted in the 10th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry in 1862 as a private and was transferred to the Signal Corp which is where he remained throughout the war. The earliest city directory found that lists him as a photographer was from 1872. The 1900 US census reports that Lamprey was 64 years old, living alone, and working as a photographer in Concord. The town of Penacook was named after the Penacook Native American tribe which lived in the area. The town was a village located within the city of Concord. Penacook was involved in the textile industry. The town was located along the Contoocook River. This location attracted the hydro power industry and Penacook became a mill town.
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