Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

I’m a little early for Sepia Saturday #40, but I know I’m going to be busy tomorrow. This 1864-1868 vintage CdV features a girl of about five to eight years old. Her dress is a typical gathered front bodice with short petal sleeves and a full skirt gathered to a waistband. It likely buttoned down her back. The dress is adorned with yards of braid work. It is possible her mother found the trim pre-made because the swirls appear to be very uniform, but it is also possible that her mother tacked all that trim down by hand. You can see her eyelet trimmed pantlets peeking out below the hem of her skirt, white stockings and black kid leather shoes.

This style of dress was popular for boys and girls from the 1850s up to the 1880s, but we know this is an 1860s photo because of the square trim border on the card.

A proud Sepia Saturday submission! Please click over and view some of the other great sites.

14 thoughts on “Did her mother take the time?

  1. Marilyn says:

    A very beautiful photo of this serious little girl, I can’t imagine how long she had to stand still for this photos so I can understand her serious expression. I love her clothes, the braid and the pantlets and all the other detail and her hair is gorgeous.


  2. Joan says:

    I loved your post and the information about the little girl’s clothing. How I wish we had family photos of such clothing.


  3. It is so important to leave notes on our photos. Many years from now hopefully our descendants will have them. Great post.


  4. Martin H says:

    Like so many children, photographed in this era, the little girl has an expression that makes her seem older than her tender years.


  5. She must have been from a family of means.


  6. Christine says:

    Very fancy dress and nicely done hair. Perhaps she was impatient to get out and play and that’s why she looks so serious.


  7. Nancy says:

    It’s hard to tell whether her expression is angry, serious, or anxious. When I see photographs of young children from that time period I always wonder how much they understood about the processs, with a man draped in black pointing something at them. Did they imagine the worst?

    I have an opinion about the trim on her dress. I don’t think it’s premade trim because, looking closely, you can see that all the motifs of the same shape are not exactly the same. I think it’s either trim that has been tacked down or heavy thread embroidered directly onto the fabric of the dress. At first I thought maybe it was counted thread embroidery, but it’s not accurate enough to be that. I would like to see a photograph of this little girl with a smile. She probably lit up the room.

    Another thing I noticed about this photogaph that makes it interesting to me is that the only thing parallel to the the lower edge is the table top and the little girl’s waist. Everything else seems to be slightly askew to the frame: the baseboard and trim on the wall is higher on the right; the pattern on the floor narrows in perspective; and the little girl is leaning. It’s all very interesting.

    Thanks for sharing her with us.


  8. Tattered and Lost says:

    Such a serious heavy frown for such a small body. It’s so sad that all of the photos that exist of people from this time period look so serious. Personalities rarely come through.

    And such an awkward lean to hold.

    I bet she was a joyous little creature.


  9. PattyF says:

    Such a big scowl for such a pretty little girl! I imagine she was quite put out by the whole photo-taking process. Hopefully someone gave her a sweet when she was finished as a reward for standing still so long.


  10. The stitching on the dress might be couching. It’s done by laying a decorative thread on the fabric and stitching it in place with another thread as Nancy said, above. If it is, it certainly is beautifully and painstakingly done. If her mother did it she was a wonderful needlewoman. Or maybe as Meri suggested they were wealthy and had a seamstress do it.
    I sure hope she was a happier little girl than she looks in this portrait.


  11. mrsmarvel says:

    The comments about the needlework are most appreciated! That is one area where I am severely lacking. I have numerous counted cross stitch, needlepoint and other kits started…none finished. I’ll have to learn about couching. It sounds noble, like redwork.


  12. Alan Burnett says:

    A post full of fascinating information, both about clothing styles and ways of dating CdV’s. Thanks for sharing it.


  13. Who ever did the trim did beautiful handwork..I think it must be hand done. It is a beautiful gown..and I love the pantaloons! :)


  14. TICKLEBEAR says:

    very chic!! loving it.


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