YOUNG GIRL OUT FOR A DRIVE IN SOUTH HAVEN, MICHIGAN

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A young girl sits behind the wheel of an open early automobile in this vintage real photo postcard. She is dressed femininely with puffy sleeves, a wooly hat and a necklace with a locket. The photograph was taken at the Novelty Photo Studio in South Haven, Michigan. The photographer was Charles M. Erard who conducted business in South Haven beginning circa 1905. The Bulletin of Photography (1915) announced his move to Battle Creek, Michigan. He was in Battle Creek working as a photographer until at least 1930. He also had a studio in Albion, Michigan around 1910.

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Published in: on January 23, 2017 at 12:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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PORTRAIT OF A LITTLE BOY AND HIS PEDAL CAR IN THE MOTOR CITY (DETROIT)

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This cabinet card features a young boy driving his Keystone Auto Pedal car. The elaborate toy car was made by the Mars Company. One source told me that the car was produced in 1905 but that information is unconfirmed. The child’s expression in this photo is priceless. He is trying to appear very serious, as if he was a mature and experienced driver. In other words he seems to be saying, “Driving is no big deal for me, I do it all the time”. A light stamp on the reverse of the cabinet card reveals that the photographer of this image was F. E. Nielson and his studio was at 344 Michigan Avenue in Detroit, Michigan. Fredrick N. Nielson was born in Denmark in 1884, immigrated to the US in 1903, and married his wife Sophia in 1912. He conducted his photography business in Battle Creek (1918), Saginaw (1920), and Allegan (1920-1931). This portrait suggests that Nielson was a talented photographer.

Published in: on June 8, 2015 at 3:14 pm  Comments (3)  
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HANDSOME WHITE HAIRED AND WHITE BEARDED GENTLEMAN IN PLAINWELL, MICHIGAN

This handsome older gentleman with white hair and a white beard, is named Adrian Manley (1826-1906). The U.S. census of 1880 reveals that he was married to Elizabeth Manley and that he was employed as a clerk. He and his wife lived with their son Leny, a twenty nine year-old laborer. The 1900 census finds Mr Manley in his seventies living with his wife and two grandchildren, Wane (age 8), and Sylvia (age 6). Adrian Manley’s death certificate lists his occupation as a farmer which likely indicates that farming was his primary work for most of his life. The photographer who produced this photograph was John Morrison Brigham (1863-1933) whose studio was located in Plainwell, Michigan. Brigham attended Indiana Normal College at Valparaiso, Indiana. He studied photography in Plainwell and owned his first gallery there. In 1898 he moved to Battle Creek, Michigan where he opened a photography studio that became very successful. In 1885, Brigham  married Ida M Potter of Mankato, Minnesota. Photo Beacon (1897) printed a review of some of Brigham’s work and it was not complimentary. The reviewer simply wrote, “lots of dead eyes”.

PRETTY WOMAN IN GRAND RAPIDS MICHIGAN (1890)

This cabinet card features a portrait of an attractive young lady. She is posed with her back back toward the camera, a pose which offers a profile view. The photographer of this image is Samuel Sharpsteen of Grand Rapids, Michigan and the photograph was taken in 1890. The previous owner of this cabinet card stated that Sharpsteen was of the Jewish faith, but that is not factually correct. There is a tendency for owners of cabinet cards to see a name that “sounds Jewish” and assume that the bearer of that name, must be Jewish. This kind of logic results in many incorrect identifications of Jewish photographers. It so happens, that Mr. Sharpsteen was of the Methodist faith. Samuel Sharpsteen was born in 1850 near Battle Creek, Michigan. His parents were native New Yorkers who were among the early settlers of Michigan. He was educated in Battle Creek’s public schools and at age 20 left home to apprentice in photography. He then went of Owosso,Michigan, where he and his older brother opened a gallery. After six months, his brother left the partnership; and Sharpsteen stayed in Owosso until 1882. He also married his wife there. His wife’s name was Nattie Tuttle, and she was from Cleveland, Ohio. His next location was Ionia, Michigan, where he stayed 8 years. An 18 month stint in Detroit was followed by his move to Grand Rapids. His gallery was in Grand Rapids from 1888 until , at least, 1903. His studio moved around a lot. Research located nine different Grand Rapids locations over the years that he was there. In addition, he had a partner in 1890 and their studio was known as Sharpsteen & Andrews. The Bulletin of Photography (1916) announced Sharpsteen’s death. He died in Grand Rapids at age 71.