THE FAMOUS HANNA TRIPLETS IN BOONTON, NEW JERSEY (PHOTO BY WENDT)

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This cabinet card portrait features “The Famous Hanna Triplets”. The girl’s names were Ida, Iva, and Eva. The sisters were involved in show business from the age of ten months. A 1967 interview with Iva during her retirement revealed her perspective on the triplet’s popularity. She stated “there weren’t too many triplets in those days who survived…so I guess you could call them freaks who weren’t freaks”. The girls worked for Ringling Brothers and the A. B. Marcus Musical Comedy Company. They performed as dancers. At age 20 they retired as they began to marry. Eva married a noted clown. “Bumpsy” Anthony (1900-1989) was inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame. In 1956, at age 50, the triplets had a reunion dance performance. Triplets are quite rare and it is not surprising that these beautiful performing girls became well known. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that triplets are born in about one of one thousand births. Only about 10% of these births are identical triplets. In 2015 only four sets of identical triplets were born in the US. It appears that the Hanna girls were identical triplets. The photographer of this historic image is Frank Wendt (1859-1930). In 1893 Wendt became the successor to his mentor, Charles Eisenmann (1855-197). Eisenmann was a famous New York City photographer known for his images concerning “human oddities” and circus perfomers. A collection of his work can be seen at the web site of the “International Center of Photography”. Wendt continued Eisenmann’s work photographing “human oddities” but he also photographed many “normal” celebrities.Wendt moved the studio to New Jersey in 1898. Author Jim Linderman maintains that Wendt has been unfairly placed in the shadow of Eisenmann.

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Published in: on March 3, 2017 at 11:09 am  Comments (2)  
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PORTRAIT OF A ROW OF FIVE ADORABLE CIRCUS DOGS (PHOTO BY FAMED ALBERT BERGERET OF FRANCE)

circus dogs

This vintage real photo postcard features five circus dogs posed as if they were begging. The dogs are adorable and the photographer did an excellent job of posing these “talented” canines. The caption is in French and roughly means “Doggies Right Alignment”. The photograph is by the famed Albert Bergeret (1859-1932), a leading French postcard producer. Printing on the front of the postcard lists the studio as being located in Nancy. A postmark on the card indicates that it was mailed in 1902. To view other examples of Bergeret’s work and to learn more about him, click on the category “Photographer: Bergeret”.

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Published in: on April 11, 2016 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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LADY BALL WALKER: CIRCUS BALANCING ACT PERFORMER IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK

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This cabinet card portrait features a pretty young woman who likely performed in a balancing act for an unidentified circus. She has one foot on a ball that was used for balancing feats. The photograph is a bit risque for it’s era. The young lady is displaying a bit of a devilish grin. Note the upside down ghost image at the top of this image. The logo of the McDannell studio in Wattsburg, Pennsylvania is visible and the cause of this phenomenon is that this cabinet card was likely stored face-to-face with the McDannell cabinet card and The McDannell logo was pressed printed onto this circus performer photograph. It is worth mentioning that one of Mcdannell’s photographs is a resident of the Cabinet Card Gallery collection. The above cabinet card image was produced by the Rykert studio in Buffalo, New York. Chauncy W. Rykert and William Rykert were both photographers in Buffalo. Both men shared a studio on Buffalo’s Jefferson Street in the late 1870’s. Chauncy is the most likely one who produced this image as he remained a photographer in Buffalo for many more years than William.

Published in: on October 4, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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ROSE ZAZEL: PRETTY AND EXPLOSIVE YOUNG WOMAN (FIRST FEMALE HUMAN CANNONBALL)

HUMAN CANON BALL_0005This cabinet card portrait features a pretty young woman who was quite a daredevil. She was the first female canonball. Her stage name was Rose Zazel. In this photograph she is wearing her namesake rose as well as a necklace, bracelet, and earrings. She is also wearing a risque costume. Miss Zazel’s act involved being shot from a spring loaded cannon invented by “The Great Farini”. Zazel’s given name was Rossa Matilda Richter and she was just 14 years of age when she was engaging in this exciting but reckless behavior. At one point, she toured with the PT Barnum Circus. Eventually she suffered a career ending injury when she missed a safety net and suffered a broken back. The information I cited about Rose Zazel comes from an interesting article on Scribol.com. The article is entitled “Seven Most Mind Blowing She-Daredevils in History” and it was written by Karl Fabricus. The article included the image below which is a poster advertising an appearance of “Zazel the Human Projectile”.  This cabinet card image was photographed by Marc Gambier, a well known photographer of celebrities. You can view more of his images and learn more about him in the category “Photographer: Gambier”.

Zazel_The_Human_Projectile_vintage_poster_on_display_at_the_Circus_World_Museum_in_Baraboo,_Wisconsin.

CUTEST DOG IN BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT (1892)

BRIDGEPORT DOG_0007Photographers Seeley & Warnock took this photograph of a cute dog posing in their studio in Bridgeport, Connecticut. What a pose?  The photographers have captured this adorable canine exhibiting a smile (with his/her mouth open). The lighting utilized in this photograph could have been better, but lets remember that dogs are tough customers for a photographer. On the reverse of the cabinet card is advertising that states “Instantaneous Portraits of Children A Successful Specialty”.  Note that photographing children is not only a “specialty” but it is a “successful specialty”. Additional printing on the reverse of the cabinet card indicates that it was produced in 1892. Preliminary research found no information about Mr. Warnock but there is an abundance of information about Mr. Seeley. Henry James Seeley was well known in Grand Army of the Republic circles. He was a department commander (Connecticut) and served in national offices of the organization. He was born in Jericho, Vermont in 1849. At the age of fifteen he enlisted in the 10th Indiana Battery, Light Artillery. After serving with the unit he was transferred to the gunboat Stone River which was operating on the Tennessee River. His next post was Fort Johnson in Huntsville, Indiana. Seeley entered and left the military as a private. After mustering out of the military in 1865, he taught school in Carbondale, Illinois. He then went to Vermont to further his education and then had teaching stints in Rome (NY), Worcester, Fall River and Bridgewater (MA). In 1872 he moved to Bridgeport where he studied photography and finally settled down. He opened a photography studio there in 1872 at 922 Main Street. He spent the next forty-five years or more working as a photographer.

COSTUMED CHILD ACROBAT/CIRCUS PERFORMER

This cabinet card features a young boy who is likely a professional acrobat. The lad’s costume certainly is strongly suggestive that he is a circus performer. The child, as well as the photographer and the location of the studio, are  all unidentified.

Published in: on August 4, 2012 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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LITTLE GIRL IN A FIELD OF DAISIES IN BARABOO,WISCONSIN

A cute little girl with curly hair poses in a studio created field of daisies for photographer Sim Mould. The studio was located in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The girl is wearing a dress wth a lace collar and has a flower pinned to the front of her dress. An inscription on the reverse of the cabinet card indicates that the child’s name is Hattie Acot. Unfortunately, no biographical information could be found about her. The photographer, Mr. Mould is mentioned in a number of photographic journals. He placed an ad for his studio in a book about Sauk County, Wisconsin (1891).  (more…)

A TURN OF THE CENTURY MAGIC PONY

This cabinet card is not a high quality photograph. It is out of focus and poorly posed. However, don’t complain because as the saying goes,  never look a gift horse in the mouth. Speaking about horses, what do you think about this fancy equine?  It is likely a horse from a circus or carnival. Although the hair extensions on the horse could not be more gaudy, it is important to note that someone went to a great deal of trouble and spent a lot of time to dress up this horse. The man handling the horse may be a trainer or perhaps a barn worker. The photograph was taken outside. There is no available information pertaining to the identity of the horse or photographer. The location where the photograph was taken is also unknown.

Published in: on April 10, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (5)  
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“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS, CHILDREN OF ALL AGES, LOOK AT THE GIRL ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE” …ROSE AUSTIN, AERIAL PERFORMING STAR

This cabinet card features a pretty, Rose Austin, of the Austin Sisters, who were well known trapeze artists. On the reverse of the photograph is a pencilled notation that states the performer’s name and “Bath Beach, Long Island, New York” (Bath Beach is in Brooklyn). The image was published by the Robinson & Roe studio which had galleries in both Chicago and New York City. The Circus Historical Society’s web site cites the “Austin Family”. Its members included R.G., Aimee (1870-1907), George E., and Rose. Among their venues were Orrin Brothers (1883-1884), W. W. Cole (1885), Coney Island (1892), and Bentley’s (1895). Aimee Austin, born in London, was an aerialist who was known as the “Human Fly” for her talent of “ceiling walking”. She began performing with Rose Austin, at nine years of age, as part of the Austin Sisters aerial act which played at the Circus Rentz, in Berlin, Germany. The act was managed by R. G. Austin. The aerialist performed with various European circuses before coming to the United States. Rose Austin was the subject of three articles in the New York Times. A 1892 article was entitled “Cannot Find Rose Austin”. The article reported that the disappearance of Ms. Austin from her home in Bath Beach. She was described as a well known trapeze performeer and leader of the “clever” Austin Sisters. It was also metioned that she was the wife of R. G. Austin; the manager of the Australian Theatrical Company. At the time of her disappearance, she and her sister were performing at Vaceas’s West End Casino in Coney Island, New York. She had been last seen boarding a ferry bound for New York City. The article points out that Ms. Austin had suffered from epilepsy for the previous four or five years and had experienced a severe attack about ten days earlier.(An acrobat with epilepsy? Doesn’t seem like a terrific career choice.). The article closes with a statement that both Rose Austin’s husband and her doctor, believed that she was either in a hospital, or had fallen off the ferry and drowned. A follow up article (1892) revealed that Ms. Austin had been found and was currently confined to bed as “she is wandering in her mind”. She couldn’t account for her whereabouts or activities during the time she was missing and last remembered falling ill on the ferry. A third article in the New York Times (1894) reports that Rose fell from a trapeze while performing with her brother George in Coney Island. She fell after fainting (one would imagine she had a epileptic seizure). She and her brother fell into a net together and knocked heads, rendering them both unconscious. George recovered quickly but Rose was brought home to Bensonhurst (Brooklyn) in a delirious condition. To view other photographs by Robinson and Roe, and to learn a little about them, click on the category “Photographer: Robinson & Roe”.