I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me at familyphotoreunion [ at ] yahoo [ dot ] com. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What a Shame Wednesday: Preserving a Daguerreotype/Ambrotype On a Cabinet Card, Circa 1860s

It's great that someone decided to copy this daguerrotype (or ambrotype) image to preserve it in cabinet card format.  It's hard to say which of the two formats this was originally.  If we had the original photograph we could quickly discern if was a daguerrotype by moving it around a bit to see if there was a mirror effect when doing so.  Dags and ambros were generally one-offs, so by copying the original, the image could now be shared with other family members and friends.  It's too bad someone didn't think to name the pair for posterity while they were at it.

Unfortunately, there are no hints to the identity the subjects of the photo, or the photographer who copied it. We can date the original photo, or at least the case that it was kept in, to the early 1860s.  The cased photograph has a  rather ornate metal mat, with a preserver holding the parts together.  Preservers weren't used before 1847, and since it's also quite detailed, it probably dates to after 1859 when ornate preservers came into use.  I found the same metal mat with its flowers and swirly leaves on several civil war-era ambrotypes (1862).    I think this dating fits with the clothing style of our subjects. 

I find the portrait to be quite charming.  I wonder if the fellow might have been off to war shortly after this image was taken.  There seems to be a connection between the melancholy girl and the boy with the reserved smile.  Brother & sister?


  1. Odd looking. An old photograph of an older photograph? The woman does look most pensive.

  2. Yes, it seems to have been a quickly-made duplicate. I've seen other dags copied onto cabinet card before, they are normally a bit more artfully reproduced.