Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Even though this lady is not identified, I am including this in the Mary Harding / Frank Buxton / Florence Gardner mystery grouping for two reasons. One, they were together in the same batch of photos from ebay, and two her photo was made by the same photographer as Frank Buxton’s and has the same distinctive deckled edge. She is an attractive woman, and just note that although we can only see 7 buttons on her dress, there are probably 7 more at least that we don’t see. That is a lot of buttons! You can also see the shadow of a frame in the shape of an oval above her head. Someone at some time revered this woman enough to display her image in a frame.

This is a proud Sepia Saturday post, although not on theme (which is flying machines). I suppose you could say that with these old photos we fly through time.

19 thoughts on “Mystery woman

  1. postcardy says:

    I probably wouldn’t have noticed the oval outline if you hadn’t mentioned it, but now it seems to add more mystery to the photo.


  2. Tattered and Lost says:

    Oh my fingers get tired just thinking about all of those buttons! And they’re so close together. Thank you, thank you, thank you for zippers!


  3. Martin H says:

    Whoever she is, she has a look of resolve about her. Nice photograph.


  4. jinksy says:

    I love photos like this- full of character!


  5. Karen says:

    Great photo, I will have to have a look on ebay for any treasures I can find.


  6. Jo says:

    Lovely photo – and yes, what a lot of buttons! :-) Jo


  7. Little Nell says:

    What an attractive face! A pity we don’t know who she is, but we can imagine. I too have some old photos which show fade marks where the frame was, and like you, I feel, that somebody loved them enough once to want their images on display.


  8. I wouldn’t mind the buttons as much as the high collar.


  9. Margaret says:

    I love her face. She reminds me a bit of Jody Foster… do you see the resemblance?


  10. Bob Scotney says:

    Nice photo and those cheekbones!


  11. Brett Payne says:

    The vertical rows of buttons, and many of them, was characteristic of the 1880s. The bevelled, patterned and gilt edge to the cabinet card, together with the glossy dark green card being used, suggests to me the late 1880s or early 1890s. The shoulders are square, rather than rounded, and she doesn’t appear to have the “leg of mutton” sleeves so characteristic of the 1890s. I would estimate a date of between 1886 and 1890. Research into the studio might help to confirm (or refute) this date, and perhaps even refine it further.

    The oval could have been caused by being in a photo album with an oval-shaped window, rather than being in a frame. In fact, I think the album option is more likely, because the oval mark looks more like a dirt, grime or dust mark, as commonly seen in albums, rather than fading or general discolouration. If it had been in a frame, with an oval passe partout matte, you would expect to see fading or discolouration throughout the oval, not just at the edges. Just my opinion.

    Regards and thank you for sharing the image, Brett


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      Now that you mention it, Brett, I agree that it probably was an album page rather than a frame. Thank you for your knowledgeable input!!


  12. Christine says:

    She does look a bit like Jodie Foster…and I love the buttons. I love Brett’s contribution to this too.


  13. The buttons are not ordinary ones. They look exotic with carved scenes not all the same. Italian, Japanese or Chinese and no doubt expensive. There are probably button blogs by special button collectors that woud offer more information.


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      Darn you, Mike, you got me looking at button websites now, ha ha ha. I did contact the National Button Society (America) but they feel the buttons are not clear enough in the image to identify. After looking at their gallery of antique buttons, I believe this is a carved or stamped scene, perhaps from a fable or story. It looks a lot like one they have pictured. I imagine they were not cheap buttons. This lady, like me, enjoyed nice finishing touches to her clothing.


  14. Brett Payne says:

    Oh well spotted, Mike, although I think they are all the same scene, just slightly different angles. Now that you made me enlarge the image, I see the brooch at her neck that I would not otherwise have noticed :-) So much more to see when you take the time.


  15. Karen Sather says:

    The buttons appear to have a change in each one….very artistic, and the broach is lovely too….that curve over her head is interesting too…she seems like a very proper and well to do young lady…for sure! Nice post!


  16. Alan Burnett says:

    Whoever it is, it’s a great photograph. The thing I love most about Sepia Saturday is the way such treasures can now be shared and appreciated by people all over the world.


  17. Howard says:

    Fascinating image. The brooch is most interesting, I initially thought is was a hebrew word, but I now just think its a decorative piece. The buttons are really nice, they almost look like wedgwood.


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