I really like this photograph. I wish I could do better by it.
The cabinet card is devoid of any studio information, and since no thought to label it with a date, it’s difficult to say when or where it was taken. Cabinet cards were popular from about 1870 to the 1890s. There is a pencil notation on the back of this one, “Eli Still & family.” The capital letters were written with a bit too much flourish for my liking. I can almost read the surname as “Hill,” though I think Still is more likely. The name Eli might be short for Elias or Elijah. I think I’m sunk before I even begin.
So what information can we glean from the image itself? It’s difficult to nail down a time period by the clothing styles. The mother’s sleeves have a bit of a vertical puff to their tops, while the little girl standing in the middle seems to have a fuller sleeve that narrows at the elbow. This would seem to indicate an 1890s time frame, maybe around 1892 before the sleeve sizes got out of hand, or even perhaps after the leg o’ mutton sleeve craze died down later in the decade. I’m intrigued by the woman’s top and the flouncy lapels. I wish I could see her outfit more clearly.
I’m hoping some Dear Reader might be able to offer a new perspective on this informationally-challenged image. I’m looking forward to hearing your creative ideas!