BEAUTIFUL PORTRAIT OF A BRIDE AND GROOM AT THEIR TOM THUMB WEDDING (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

tom thumb

This vintage real photo postcard features two children posing as a bride and groom. The bride looks beautiful in her wedding dress and the groom is adorable in his tuxedo and top hat. Obviously, this is not a real wedding photo. However, it is likely an example of a Tom Thumb Wedding portrait. “Tom Thumb Weddings” were inspired by the marriage of  little people, Charles Stratton and Lavinia Warren. The couple were both working as attractions for P. T. Barnum, of circus fame. Stratton was known as General Tom Thumb. The pair were married in 1863 and the wedding was a lavish affair. People were fascinated by the couple’s wedding and reception. The event was called “The Greatest Little Wedding” and people became so obsessed that they began to create their own “miniature weddings”.  At these weddings, the bride, groom, and bridal party were composed of young children. These weddings were run like plays and often money raised at these events were used for charitable purposes. This postcard photograph may be from one of these Tom Thumb weddings but I can not be certain.The previous owner of this postcard, a postcard maven, described this postcard as being from Germany and as being published around 1909. I can not substantiate that “Tom Thumb Weddings” took place in Germany. To view other “Tom Thumb Wedding” photographs, click on the category “Tom Thumb Wedding Portraits”.

 

IS THIS A TOM THUMB WEDDING PHOTOGRAPH OR IS THIS A PORTRAIT OF A REINCARNATED GEORGE AND MARTHA WASHINGTON?

This cabinet card poses an interesting question. My first impression upon looking at the photograph was that it was an example of a “Tom Thumb Wedding Portrait”. What is a “Tom Thumb Wedding” ?  The answer offers an interesting social commentary. A “Tom Thumb Wedding” is a wedding pageant in which the major wedding roles are played by children; usually under ten years old. Not only are the bride and groom portrayed, but so are the best man, maid of honor, groomsmen, bridesmaids and the clergyman. Some of these weddings involved more then twenty children playing costumed parts. Often times, the weddings were fund raising events for charitable causes.  These faux weddings became popular after the wedding of General Tom Thumb (Charles Stratton) to Lavinia Warren in 1863. Tom Thumb’s wedding was very publicized by the media in America and received the attention across the county. Not having any royal families, Americans had to find celebrities to obsess over. Tom Thumb had a great promoter keeping him in the public’s eye. P. T. Barnum, the circus entrepreneur managed Tom Thumbs career. The previous owner of this cabinet card contends that this image is actually a portrait of a boy and a girl portraying George and Martha Washington. I have to give the last owner’s theory credibility because over the years I have been collecting these photographs, I have seen a number of portraits of children portraying George and Martha. Sometimes the images present them together and sometimes separately. In conclusion, there is no conclusion. What do you think, “Tom Thumb Wedding” or “Portrayal of George and Martha Washington”. The photographer of this image is R. B. Lewis of Hudson, Massachusetts. He is cited in the Photographic Journal of America (1893) for an excellent photograph of a football team. Lewis is also listed in the Hudson city directory as a photographer between at least 1872 and 1909. Click on the category, “Tom Thumb Wedding” to view other examples of  “Tom Thumb Wedding” photographs. To view other photographs by R. B. Lewis, click on the category “Photographer: Lewis”.