“LITTLE MAY SABRINI”: PORTRAIT OF A CHILD ACTRESS IN ESCANABA, MICHIGAN

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This cabinet card portrait features a poised little girl posing behind a chair. She appears to be wearing a costume and is standing on a prop to gain some extra height. She appears to be an actress and an inscription on the reverse of the photograph supports that hypotheses. The inscription states “Little May Sabrini as Eva” and lists the girl’s age as 7 years old. The Stewart & Lokke (Oscar) studio produced this photograph and The Directory of Early Michigan Photographers lists the pair as conducting their photography business in Escanaba in 1890. The town of Escanaba was involved in some pretty interesting protective business practices focused on helping local photographers. The Bulletin of Photography (1913) reports on an interesting law passed by the city council in Escanaba. The politicians decided to charge itinerant photographers for coming to town and conducting business. Traveling photographers who took pictures in the town’s street were charged 1 dollar for their first days work and fifty cents each day thereafter. Photographers who used tents or temporary quarters were charged two dollars for the first day and a dollar for each successive day. If a traveling photographer used flash photography, a fee of five dollars for the first day and two dollars for each day thereafter was required. Any photographer that did not comply with the law would be subject to at least a hundred dollar fine or up to sixty days in the county jail. I wonder what it cost the local photographers to encourage city council to pass such an unfair trade law to discourage visits from itinerant photographers.

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Published in: on October 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. Charming image. The various stage adaptations of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” were among the most popular theatrical offerings of the late 19th Century. I wonder if that’s the source of Miss Sabrini’s “Eva”.


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