MADAME GAGNE_0002This cabinet card portrait features a well dressed woman and was produced by a female photographer in Montreal, Canada. Madame Gagne ran a photography studio in Montreal in the 1880’s and early 1890″s. Gagne had studios at other locations in Montreal including 897 St. Catherine (circa 1885) and1823 St. Catherine (date unknown). She was located at the 211 St. Laurent address in 1895. She did a great deal of portrait work for the Chinese community. William Notman was the Montreal photographer associated with taking portraits of the elite. It is likely that Madame Gagne was married to fellow Montreal photographer, Edouard Gagne. The McCord Museum in Montreal has some of Madame Gagne’s work in their collection of historic local photographs.


phillie beard_0005Regular visitors to the Cabinet Card Gallery know that this writer has a bit of an obsession with photographs of interesting beards and mustaches. The fellow posing for this cabinet card earns a spot in the “Beards (Only the Best) category. You can view the beard collection by clicking on the aforementioned category. A. M. Gorman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, produced this image of an interesting looking gentleman. Research yielded some surprising information about the photographer. A. M. Gorman is a female photographer whose full name was Annie M. Gorman. She was listed as a photographer in the 1881 Philadelphia city directory. She also appears in the 1880 US census which lists her occupation as photographer. At the time of the census she was 36 years old and single. To view other women photographers, click on the category “Female Photographers”.


MRS VREELAND_0004This cabinet card features a well dressed woman dressed in black and holding a handkerchief. The woman appears to be dressed in mourning clothes. On the reverse of the cabinet card is the following pre printed quotation “Secure the shadow ere the substance fades”. This quotation was commonly used in the photographic community in advertising to encourage people to photograph their deceased relatives to keep their memory alive. The next part of the “secure the shadow” quotation is “Let nature imitate what nature made”. It was not uncommon to photograph corpses in life-like poses or in caskets, deathbeds, or other household furniture during the cabinet card era. See cabinet card gallery category “Memorial Card”. This photograph seems to be more of a mourning card than a memorial card, though one can’t be certain. The photographer of this image is Mrs. Vreeland who operated the “leading gallery” in McPherson, Kansas. To view other photographs by female photographers click on the category “Female Photographers”. To view other photographs by Mrs. Vreeland, click on the category “Photographer: Vreeland”.


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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.


MISS CLIZBE_0003This cabinet card is a wedding portrait of a young unidentified couple. The bride is wearing a dark wedding dress and a long sheer veil. The groom is standing in the background behind the bench his bride is sitting on. The distance between the two removes the intimacy that we tend to see in modern day wedding portraits. The photographer of this image is Miss Carrie B. Clizbe whose studio was located in Elroy, Wisconsin. She is one of  a small group of female photographers operating during the cabinet card era. Research revealed very little information about Carrie Clizbe’s career as a photographer. The 1880 US census found Carrie (age 21) living with her parents and four siblings in Reedsburg, Wisconsin. Carrie was working as a “tailoress”. Her father had an interesting occupation. He sold patents. The 1900 and 1910 census does not list her as having an occupation. While investigating, I was able to locate a cabinet card produced by the Clizbe Sisters studio in Reedsburg. It is apparent that Carrie was once partners with her sister Martha. A directory of Early Western Photographers reports that Carrie’s studio operated in Elroy circa 1895. The web site for Reedsburg provides a short biography of the man that Carrie Clizbe married on 7/4/1900. Herbert H. Webb and two partners established a department store in Reedsburg called Webb and Schweke. It was known as ‘The Big Store”. Carrie died in 1921 in the city of Chicago. She is buried in Reedsburg.

Published in: on January 11, 2013 at 12:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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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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The subject of this portrait is Charlotte Casterline of Hammondsport, New York. Her name is pencil written on the reverse of the photograph along with the initials “G. S. N. S.”. The image is dated “1898”. The photographer of this portrait is Ada Houseknecht of Batavia, New York. Research found a cabinet card photographed by Houseknecht Brothers studio located at 106 Main Street in Batavia. The studio was active from 1880 until 1949. A separate investigation revealed that Batavia was the home of a studio operated by Beecher (1858-1930) and Ada Houseknecht (1871-?). Beecher went to work for photographer William Wilson in 1880 and bought out the studio. Ada started as a photo retoucher but became a full time photographer with her husband, Beecher. She was one of the first female professional photographers in the state of New York. She took over the studio when Beecher died in 1930. Little could be discovered about Charlotte Casterline. The 1899 Annual Report of the Superintendent (New York) notes that Charlotte graduated from the Normal School in Geneseo, New York. She was 0ne of the few students in the school who majored in science. After completing some research about Miss Casterline, it seems likely that this photograph was taken at her graduation from the Geneseo State Normal School (G. S. N. S. ?).


A young woman poses for the camera at the studio of Arthur & Philbric in Detroit, Michigan. She is wearing an unusually loud patterned blouse. Note the subjects fingerless gloves and collar pin. The Arthur & Philbric Studio had galleries in Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan, as well as in Toledo, Ohio. Research revealed some information about James Arthur (1855-1912). He was a native of Montreal, Canada and first began work as a photographer with the well known  J. and J. W. Notman studio. He came to Detroit in 1881 and went to work with photographer J. E. Watson. In 1883 he became senior partner in the firm of Arthur & Philbric and they remained in business together for eight years. He then became sole proprietor of a firm called Arthur Studios. Research also yielded information about Philbric. Most notable is that Philbric was a woman. Her name was Helen M. Philbric and her name appears in Michigan business directories as Arthur’s partner between 1884 and 1893. No other information about Philbric was discovered. To view the work of other female photographers, click on the category “Female Photographers”.


An attractive and fashionable couple stand in front of the camera in this portrait by Duclos. The gallery was located in Lowell, Massachusetts. The couple in this photograph are very well dressed and likely affluent. The couple are unidentified. This is a lovely image but there was an error made in setting up the couple’s pose. Take a close look and see if you can find the photographer’s mistake. I will describe the error in the second-to-last sentence of this paragraph. There is only sketchy information about the photographer of this image. However, the information is pretty amazing. An article in the Nashua Telegraph (1909) is entitled “DUCLOS FAMILY OF PHOTOGRAPHERS: THREE GENERATIONS OF PICTURE TAKERS”. The story reveals that the family of Mr and Mrs Alphonse Duclos of Lowell,was a family of photographers. Both father and mother were photographers and each of their six children “have charge” of photography studios. Each of the married children were married to photographers and the one and only grandchild (age 12) was considered a prodigy photographer. The article reports where each of the members of the Duclos family worked as photographers. Sadie Duclos is the family member who operated studios (2) in Lowell. When setting up the pose and while photographing this image, Sadie did not notice one of the woman’s shoes sticking out from under her dress. To view the work of other female photographers, click on the category “Female Photographers”.

Published in: on August 8, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (3)  
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