Greetings from Milwaukee

I bought this cabinet card that was made in Milwaukee in the 1890’s.SAM_2770 aI’m guessing that this is a 1890’s photo because of the sleeves.SAM_2770 bInteresting paisley-like fabric on the middle lady’s bodice, don’t you think?  I wonder what color it was.  I think she is a daughter and the two seated people are her parents.

The back of the card is very pretty!SAM_2770 cI’d like to see a building like that.  Also, note the add in the top left window.  12 cabinets and a life-sized crayon for $4.75.  Well that brings an image to my modern mind of a gigantic wax crayon.  Pretty sure that was not what this photographer was selling.

It seems a crayon portrait  was a process.  Copied from this website. Go to the link and scroll down till you see the below quote and an accompanying photo.

Crayon Portraits/Charcoal or Pastel 1860 – 1905/1930 Crayon a French word meaning pencil, the term “Crayon portrait” is any art that is both free hand, and photographic. Photographic crayon portraits, they usually measure around 16 x 20 inches, usually a vignette and often a convex oval. When found in frames they were a large gilded, or ornately decorated frame. They were the commercial attempts at photographic enlarging, through the Woodward Solar Enlarging Camera, patented by Woodward in 1857. The weakly printed solar enlargement required the crayon portrait artist’s touch up work in order to strengthen the image. Crayon portraits enjoyed great success from roughly 1860 through about 1905, and in some isolated areas until the Great Depression. These were the first “life-sized” photographic images that were available for portraiture. Artists used bromide, silver, and platinum prints as the photographic base. An out of print book (1882) by J. A. Barhydt describes the process of making the portraits, “Crayon Portraiture: Complete Instructions for Making Crayon Portraits on Crayon Paper and on Platinum, Silver, and Bromide Enlargements.” Now and then a copy shows up on eBay for around twenty bucks or so. Unfortunately, the genre is not highly valued as a topic to historians of photography, as evidenced in most texts on the subject.
Concerning the dating of one of the artifacts . . . the enlargements were made from an earlier daguerreotype, ambrotype, tintype or late, any variety of the smaller prints made from glass plates. As a result, dating the image can be tricky and may require research. A daguerreotype made in 1847, for instance, might not have been enlarged until 1867. While clothing styles may have been updated on a few images, this is rare by my experience, and I have examined thousands of crayons as a photographic materials conservator who specializes in them. If there is a question regarding the date of the artifact, seek a conservator’s examination–or date the artifact as closely as possible to a decade using circa; c1865, c1875, etc. To assist the dating of artifacts, there are books available showing clothing styles of the 19th century and how fashion changed from decade to decade. Attempt to date both the original and the enlargement if possible. This information was found on, author unknown.



2 thoughts on “Greetings from Milwaukee

  1. That’s an interesting link you posted.
    Your comment about the wax crayon made me laugh. I pictured two mustached gents in top hats struggling down the stairs carrying an expensive, life-size wax crayon! lol

    I wonder if those 3 sitters were in mourning. Beautiful card!

  2. It is possible they are in mourning as the colors are so dark. The print on the “daughter’s” dress is a bit wild for full mourning…perhaps half mourning? If she were single, they wouldn’t want her in full mourning for long.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s