Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Where did she go??

Where did she go??

Today we have a sad story. This beautiful CDV sized card surrounds a gem tintype that has been worn over the years until the facial features have been completely obliterated. I can tell this was a woman. There is the typical center part to her hair and it was oiled down smoothly to her head. I can also see a white collar and large neckerchief bow. These two fashion aspects put the date in the early 1860s, and this could even have been a reprint of an older daguerrotype. Other than those two visible clues, she is well and truly lost.

This little disaster tells us two things. One is that old photographs are very delicate. Tintypes were printed onto metal plates with an emulsion and varnish covering them. They are highly susceptible to scratching and wear. Photographs printed on paper and mounted on a card are equally fragile and can be ripped, scratched, written on, burned, and also fade with exposure to sunlight. These antique images can be damaged irreparably and when they were the only photo of the person made, it is a shame to have lost the record of their appearance. We take this so much for granted today. I can’t imagine someone passing from this life without a photographic record of them being left behind. We have ID photos for driving, working, education, etc., plus in much of the world, cameras are not such a luxury any more, and many people have one in their pocket at all times on modern smart phones. The second thing this destroyed image tells us is a story of perhaps someone rubbing away the image with a finger, over time, whether the tintype was a touchstone to the past, or they were trying to remove the memory of something painful, we can never know.

The paper folder that the gem has been mounted in is interesting. It is light blue in color with gold printing that features a ship and nautical stars under a rising sun, stars in the corners, two vases on pediments, holding star shaped flowers, and ivy with star shaped leaves at the top corners. The entire border is a type of Greek key design. There was no photographer’s information on the back. There is surely some analogy and metaphor in the images featured on the card, but I do not know what they were meant to represent.

I am submitting this as a Sepia Saturday post! Please click through and discover a world of amazing sepia images from around the world!

Onward through the blogosphere

9 thoughts on “Where did she go?

  1. Karen S. says:

    Absolutely sad, where ever did she go? We sure have come a very long way since then.


  2. CatM says:

    I would like to think that she’s been kissed repeatedly, perhaps every night before a grieving widower or child whispered “I love you” and went to bed.


  3. alanburnett1 says:

    That is not only a fascinating old photograph, but a fine piece about the early history of photographs. What a distance we have come since those early days, but how many of the present-day mobile phone photos will still be around in 150 years?


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      That is also in interesting point to ponder, Alan. Many people do not back up their photos from their phones, or delete them to make more space. I read somewhere that the plethora of images made these days has far outnumbered all previous generations combined. Do we have greater quality however? I would say no, personally. Candids are one thing, but artistic photographs or those that have been well thought out carry as much emotion and sometimes more than a cute candid.


  4. La Nightingail says:

    You can still just barely make her out – faded but not gone completely. Someone who knew her would still probably recognize her yet, but of course they’d be as long gone as she is.


  5. It looks like the lady has one eye closed – maybe she didn’t like the photo much herself and tried to hide it.


  6. I’m with Cat. I think it was kisses.


  7. IntenseGuy says:

    i think with an expert photoshopper – she might be partially restored.


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      Alas, that is not me. I can put my watermark on and that’s about it!


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