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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ancestors for sale!

Maybe you've seen this sign in an antique shop or at a flea market: "Buy some new ancestors". This is followed by a great many portrait photos from the late 19th early 20th centuries. These photos all capture a moment in time when a still image of yourself or a loved one was a "must have."  I find them interesting but without some explanation: the where, when, why, and who, it is really just frustrating guesswork or research. Take the two relatively small images that were in the envelope that has now generated 3 blog posts:

Meet Cornelius and Elizabeth Van Winkle Post. They look successful and established but I can't find anything more about them. If I pick up pictures like these it is usually with the hope that they might be somebody famous. With names like that you would hope that they might be well known or accomplished at something. As far as I can tell neither made their mark on society. But there is more information, look at the back of one of the cards:

There were four photos and on the back of each was the same information for the photographer and each one had a tax stamp. One clearly showing the date of 1865. On each someone had cleverly written the name of the person pictured, typically, you find nothing but the photographer's name and address.  I hope that someone will see them and say,"Hey! There's your great,great Uncle Cornelius." If that turns out to be you, just let me know what happened to this couple.

1 comment:

  1. Reunited!

    Just before tossing a worn 1900's photo keepsake book with a broken lock, my daughter noticed that there was still ONE picture remaining. The back says in pencil "Annie Van Winkle Paterson NJ". admittedly it could say "auurie Van Wuuikle Patuson NY" but the former is more likely. The picture was printed by DANA 14th & 6th NY. The image is of a young lady possibly 22, with a corsit-fit type formal dress and cameo on the tight neckline. She resembles Mr Van Winkle above, more than Mrs.

    When I go to the sales I see so many times precious keepsakes piled in a beer-box, apparently in hopes that someone would pay a dollar for the pile. Things like a thin diary begun and abandoned, a page from a 1951 religious coloring book obviously preserved for the profound effect it should have had when discovered after death. In one case, in a plastic milk-jug cut for clothes-line hangers, among 30 old rusty sockets rest a man's wedding band 18k and 195 grams worth about $250 in 2012. Had the family seen that (besides the pure monetary gain) they may have gained some insight.

    I fear that my own sewn seeds such as the diorama my daughter made in 3rd grade of mythical creatures will be lost in the end to the beer-box and then from there to a corner of a hoarder's barn. Well.. not really.. I've taught them better.


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