Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

Today’s photo is a really nice 1860 era CDV. Although we can’t tell the fabric used, it was likely a wool or wool blend as that was among the most common and durable fabrics available for dressmaking. Other fabrics were silk, silk blends, and some fabrics that are no longer produced. I’m not a textiles expert though. Anyway, the most common fabrics were wool, silk, wool-silk blends, silk-cotton blends, and again the others I am not super up to speed on.

We can tell this is an 1860s era photo from a few tells. One, the corners were cut – this is a flag right off the bat that the corners of the original card were square. People tended to cut them diagonally so they would go into photo albums more easily. Next, the borders on the image are a thick/thin combo. This was very popular from 1864 through the end of the decade. Third, the very full skirt and dropped shoulder seams of the dress. These are hallmarks of 1860s style dresses. She has a belt and a watch/watch chain showing. The sleeve adornment looks like something I saw in a fashion plate for later in the era. That combined with the borders becoming popular in 1864 suggests this is a later decade image. Also, I love the bright, open eyed expression of the subject, almost like she was startled a bit or perplexed by the process.

The photographer was Schoonmaker at 282 River St, Troy, NY.

2 thoughts on “1860 CDV

  1. Val says:

    They also used Linen (made from Flax), but I she’s not wearing that. I don’t think it’s wool – the weave is too fine for that. The waist of her dress seems very high… I wonder if she was pregnant, though can’t really tell her age. Nice photo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      I believe that linen was not used as a primary fiber in the 1860s, as it was out of style except for men’s shirts and undergarments. Wool, silk, wool/silk blends, cotton, and wool/cotton or silk/cotton blends were definitely popular. I don’t think she was pregnant. The natural waist at about 2″ below the bottom of the rib cage was used in the 1860s, whereas today we use a measurement somewhat half way between the rib cage and hip bone as our waist. It feels strange in reproduction clothing, but it really is accurate. It creates the shorter, rounder bodice look that was desirable in this era.

      Liked by 2 people

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