An unidentified actress poses for her photograph at the studio of Bradley & Rulofson, 429 Montgomery Street, in San Francisco, California. The actress is quite beautiful.Bradley & Rulofson was a well known photographic gallery. The reverse of the card advertises the fact that the studio had won local, national and international photography competitions, including a medal from Vienna, Austria (1873). To learn more about this photographic studio, click on the category “Photographer: Bradley & Rulofson”.
UNIDENTIFIED PRETTY ACTRESS POSES FOR HER PORTRAIT: BRADLEY AND RULOFSON IN SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
This cabinet card features a portrait of “Master Willie Wainwright” at two years-old. A dedication on the reverse of the card states “to his friend Mable Ayers”. Master Willie is wearing a straw hat which is covering his long blond locks of hair. The photographer is Edgerton Reyerson Higgins (1845-1911) of Fresno, California. Higgins was born in Canada. His mother was Canadian and his father was from Connecticut. He attended high school and Business College in San Francisco, California. He helped out at the photographic gallery of his brother, Thomas J. Higgins while attending school. Higgins worked as a photographer in a number of California towns, including Sacromento, Snelling, Stockton, Merced, Hanford, and Fresno. He worked for at least two well known photographic studios, one of which is represented in the Cabinet Card Gallery collection; Bradley and Rulofson. The second famous photography studio was Thomas Houseworth & Company. Click on the category Photographer: Bradley & Rulofson” to view their photographs. While working in Snelling, Higgins was quoted as saying he took “pretty pictures, even of ugly people”. This cabinet card is from Fresno and it appears that he worked there at two different times. He was there temporarily in 1879. This cabinet card was published during his second stint, which began in 1887. Higgins did much to help his community. In 1889 he was one of the principal founders of the Fresno Volunteer Fire Department, and from about 1889 until the early 1890’s, he served as chief of the department. In 1898 he renamed his gallery the “Rembrandt Studio” and a year later, entered a partnership with a photographer named Howland. The California Historical Society has a small collection of Higgins’s photographs.
A jolly looking man poses for a portrait at the studio of Isaiah West Taber (1830-1912), in San Francisco, California. The happy gentleman has a wonderful mustache and earns the right to join other men with remarkable mustaches in the Cabinet Card Gallery’s category “Mustaches (Only the Best)”. Taber was a well known daguerreotypist, ambrotypist and photographer who photographed many California notables. Taber was also a sketch artist and a dentist. He was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Between 1845 and 1849, he worked on a whaling ship. He moved to California in 1850 and returned to the east, four years later. Upon his return, he opened a photography studio in Syracuse, New York. In 1864, he returned to California where he worked in the studio of Bradley and Rulofson until 1873. To view images by Bradley and Rulofson, click on the category, “Photographer: Bradley & Rulofson”. In 1871, Tabor opened his own studio and became famous for reproducing the photographs of well known California photographer, Carleton Watkins. Watkin’s business had gone bankrupt, and Taber reproduced his work without giving Watkins any credit. In 1880, Taber took a six week photographic trip to Hawaii. During part of that trip, he fulfilled his commission to photograph King Kalakaua. By 1890, Taber had expanded his operation to include studios in London and other parts of Europe. However, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, put him out of business. The natural disaster destroyed Taber’s studio, gallery and negatives.
These two Cabinet cards present quite a mystery. The dramatically dressed and attractive young woman in the top cabinet card is simply identified as “Etta”. She appears to be an actress and my research reveals a large number of actresses named Etta who were stage performers around the turn of the century. I have been unable to determine this actresses identity, but a leading candidate might be Etta Butler (1879-1903). Etta Butler was a well-known actress and impersonator. She began her career at age 19 with the Tivoli Chorus in San Francisco. A year later she became a member of the “Around New York in Eighty Minutes” company. She was later featured in Frohman comedies. She was last seen in “The Liberty Belles” at the Madison Square. Because of her popularity and promise, she was retained by David Belasco in a long term contract. She died of Typhoid fever in Roosevelt Hospital, in New York City at age 24. This mystery lady was photographed by Bradley and Bulofson of San Francisco, California. The bottom cabinet card has an inscription on the reverse signed by “Etta”. Are these two cabinet cards, taken by the same photographer, portraits of the same woman? One can see enough resemblance between the two images to hypothesize that they are likely the same “Etta”. Take a look at another cabinet card by these photographers by clicking on the category “Photographer: Bradley & Rulofson”. That very same click will provide the reader with additional information about the photographers of this image.
This Cabinet Card presents the image of American stage actress Bijou Heron (1863-1937). She was the daughter of composer Robert August Stoepel and actress Matilda Heron. She began her career as a child. She married Broadway producer, writer, actor, and director, Henry Miller (1858-1926). Her son, Gilbert Miller became a very successful Broadway producer. The photograph was published for the Union Square Theatre Company. The photographic studio was Bradley & Rulofson in San Francisco, California. The reverse of the card indicates that the studio has the only “Elevator Photography” in the world. Perhaps a visitor to this site can explain the meaning of “Elevator Photography”. Research reveals that in 1872 the partners installed what they claimed to be the first hydraulic elevator ever to be associated with a photographic studio. The elevator cost them four thousand dollars. Henry William Bradley (1813-1891) and his partner William Rulofson (1826-1876) were partners in a photographic studio that photographed many notable Californians. Bradley was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. He opened his San Francisco studio in 1850 and took in his partner in 1860. When he retired in 1878 his studio was considered the best on the west coast and won first prize at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876. Mr Rulofson had quite a controversial and interesting life and associated with many famous people including Ambrose Bierce. Rulofson died in a fall from the roof of his studio and was heard to say during the descent, “I am killed”. You can view a second cabinet card of an actress by these photographers by clicking on the category “Photographer: Bradley & Rulofson”. Ms. Heron is dressed in costume for this portrait. It is likely that she was appearing in San Francisco with a touring company from the Union Square Theatre. The costume that she is wearing is one that she wore in the play “The Two Orphans” in which she appeared with actress Maud Harrison circa 1880. This cabinet card indicates that Bijou Heron was a strikingly beautiful woman.