Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Recently a site reader suggested I take a look at an ebay auction for a cabinet card described as a wedding portrait. Of course I had to look, and you know me, I had to have it. Lucky me, I won the auction and for this week’s Sepia Saturday we’ll be looking at it.

Aunt Minnie Mills

Someone wrote on the back, identifying this as Aunt Minnie Mills. The picture was taken in 1889 and she is wearing Jane Mills’ wedding dress. The dress is described as grey cashmere wool trimmed in orange velvet. Although I have asked some of my costume historian friends for input, no one really seems to know how this might have looked. Was it burnt orange or carrot orange? We can never know. Women did select a good dress for their wedding, but nothing like the single-use white dresses we see at modern weddings. Dresses were intended for later use, such as in this instance where another woman wore the dress. Coincidentally, my Dad has a photo of my great aunt wearing my grandmother’s wedding dress. Her’s was blue. Either way, my aunt borrowed the wedding dress because she was going out for a special engagement, and I suspect that is the reason Aunt Minnie was wearing Jane’s wedding dress as well.

The photographer was Shepard on South Sixth Street, Nebraska City.

For more photographs of people dressed to go out, click over to Sepia Saturday via the button below.

Clicking through in style

11 thoughts on “Aunt Minnie Mills

  1. CaM says:

    Most peculiar. It looks like the sides, pockets and cuffs are a different shade than the front panel. Two shades of Orange, maybe?


  2. This is a super old picture. It looks like the background is painted, like scenery in the old movies. Still in the days when you didn’t smile for the photo! The dress is very intricate. I really enjoyed your post, thanks so much.

    Kathy Matthews


  3. Karen S. says:

    It’s so interesting to see what some of the brides wore so long ago. Even black for their wedding! But I guess there was some sort of rule too with people that were widows and the use of black…great photo, she’s lovely!


  4. Little Nell says:

    Well, I prefer to think of this as burnt orange, which is quite a nice colour and I can imagine velvet in that shade. It certainly looks unusual and I can see why you coveted this CDV so much. Thank you for allowing us all to benefit from your ebay purchase.


  5. Wendy says:

    I like looking at wedding portraits too. I’m always surprised (and delighted) when someone is actually in a more tradtional white dress.


  6. Happiest day of her life. Sure can’t tell it. The set prop is a bit overwhelming next to her slight body. Interesting find.


  7. Alan Burnett says:

    What a fascinating card that is. Burnt orange – that would be quite a wedding.


  8. postcardy says:

    I think she is wearing that dress because she wanted to wear something nice for her photo.


  9. Christine says:

    It’s so wonderful to know the colors of the dresses. I never would have guessed grey and orange. How I would love to see it in color.


  10. I never would have guessed grey and orange either..but it is an interesting dress..and her little hat is quite interesting too:)


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