Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past



This photo has caused quite a lot of consternation for me. At first blush I took this to be an 1860s photo based on the square corners and size of the image (quarter sized in the center of the mount). The card borders are also consistent with those in use mid-1860s. BUT! The hair style, earrings and bodice are late 1870s to 1880s! I had some historical clothing experts take a look at the photo and all agree that the clothing is in the later date range. So the question becomes, why the “antique” style card mount and image mask? Was this lady “going retro” before the word was even invented?

The photographer was Wm. Mabie of Wellsville, NY. I wasn’t able to find any information on him.

8 thoughts on “Trick photo

  1. Mustang.Koji says:

    If the clothing was definitely of the time period you believe yet the portrait mounting is older, it may just be the photographer sold a “package” using older stock at a discount? Photographers did that until the digital age took over. Just a thought.


  2. This is somewhat unusual, but I’m glad you brought it to my attention so I will be on the lookout in the future. I see a number of hits on ancestry.com for William Mabie, I think there are actually more than one, but one in particular born about 1840/41 is listed in the 1880 Allegheny Co, NY census as occupation “photographer.” There is also a Civil War Draft Registration for William Mabie born 1840 from Grove, NY (also Allegheny Co) who listed himself as an “artist.” Perhaps when he came back from war due to economic reasons he had to use old stock?


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      Oh *excellent* speculation!


  3. I had a similar problem with cards I was looking at. The people looked out of date for the years I had pegged the cardstock at. Also wasn’t fitting with what I knew about the family itself! Then I found out how common it was for daguerreotype photos to be reprinted onto cabinet card stock.


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      I have one like that and you can clearly see that other people were cut out of the image, it’s weird!


  4. IntenseGuy says:

    I think Teresa Wilson Rogers has the right guy. :)


  5. using up old card stock..I ran onto it also..but my example was much newer.. and the clothing just did not fit the era of the folder. :)


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