Sunday, April 3, 2011

5 Victorian Ladies - Mini Pink Cabinet Card Photographs

Years ago my Father-in-Law purchased a box of old letters at an auction and among those pieces of paper history were these amazing narrow cabinet card photos of 5 Victorian Ladies and a letter telling about them.  The odd sizes of these photos and the fact that one of them has a back and front picture has always fascinated me; so I thought I'd blog about this fun find and share what I know of their story.

 This is the first photograph that was included with the letter.
I love the fact that it is a front and back shot of these 5 Friends from the turn of the 20th Century.

 This was the second photograph included with the letter.
These ladies are in "Fancy Dress" as men.
These kind of novelty photos are just such a treasure to find and it amazes me that it ended up in an auction box of stuff; but I'm glad it did since I was privileged to study and scan them because of it.

This is the original envelope and letter that the photos were in.
It's dated from 1949 going from one relative in East Cleveland OH to the daughter of one of photographed ladies who lived in West Cleveland OH at the time it was mailed and received.
(This was part of a parcel of letters that were auctioned off close to Raleigh NC about 10 years ago.)
 The letter gives the names of the ladies in the photos, except for the one that is Alice's mother.
If I'm lucky one day I might know here name as well; but for now I think it is wonderful that I know anything whatsoever about these photos.
This back-up documentation just adds so much to this fabulous find.

Here is what I now about the photos

The best I can tell from the handwriting - the 5 Ladies were friends and two were cousins.
 They are Margaret Roop, Alice Keil's Mother, Daisy Deal, Ella Malcolm and Ida Stewart.
(who is the cousin to Alice and Wilson Reed Stewart the man who mailed the letter to Alice.)

All the Photographs are attached to a very pale pink photographers board like Cabinet Card Photos of the same time period; except these photos are much narrower.  They measure approx. 4.25 x 1.50 inches.
It's almost if if a standard Cabinet Card board was cut into slivers so that multiple narrow photos could be created from the one board.  

The pink backing board does have professionally rounded corners and had originally been gilded in gold.
(due to age the pink color of the board has faded as has the gold edging but the evidence is still visible.)
Pink photo boards came out in the late 1870's and though not one of the most popular colors they did continue to be used to the early 1900's.  

I know depending on the size of the backing board, photographs from this age have different names but I've yet to discover the correct term for this size of board backed photograph.  ( If you know what it is called or where I can find more info about this size of board backed photographs, please leave me a note in the comments section of this post.  I'd love to know more about these.)

What I speculate about the photos

My hubby made a comment about the "In Drag" photo and how it had that touristy/campy look like the old-tyme photography shops you see in resort areas.  This got me to thinking that since the letter was from the Cleveland OH area and the daughter of one of the ladies as well as the relative that had these pictures were living in the same town; that it is very possible the photo had been taken in that area as well.  I remember a very dear older friend that lived in the Sandusky OH area in the 1920's telling me about a resort area that was the place to be back in the day.

Euclid Beach Park opened it's doors for business in 1895 on the shores of Lake Erie just northwest of Cleveland OH and it was patterned after Coney Island. 
Chances are good that there was a photographers studio that would take fun pictures of this nature.  It's all a guess on my part but I believe the scenario is a good one for how these odd sized pictures came about; considering these ladies were dressed as men in one of the shots, which meant they probably did it for a lark.

My best estimate at the age of these photos would be somewhere in the mid 1890's;
due to hairstyles, collars and sleeve styles of the ladies blouses.  
I located a Cabinet Card Photo with a confirmed date of 1894 at that resembles one of my ladies quite closely. show this photo as having a confirmed date of 1894
The hairstyle, sleeves and ruffled neckline from the above photo are very similar 
to Daisy Deal's blouse in the center of the below photograph.

Front View of the First Photograph.
 I have to say these ladies are dressed in the late Victorian style
of the later 1880's to mid 1890's and most likely the mid 1890's.
(Please, any of you fashion historians out there let me know if you can positively give an exact date.)

The Reverse Back View of the above Photograph.
It's great to see the back of the hairstyles and the pins and combs they used to put there hair up.
 I have long hair and use these same old fashion style "fork combs" to keep my up-dos in place.
Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

This is also the best shot to show the pink color of the backer board the photos are on, since the fronts of the boards have faded so much over time.

This is the Second Photo of the Ladies in Drag.
Too fun for words!

 Here is a listing of the products I used to add some extra fun 
in documenting these photos and letter.

The Background paper I used came from
"Time Traveler Biggie Collection"
Time Traveler Biggie Collection from
 I used the paper you see behind all the gadgets at the bottom right hand side of the this pack for the background to the photos and letter.

The fun Dolls I used to accent my pages came from Cemerony at her Etsy shop.
Fun Doll set from Ceremony at Etsy
Click HERE for link to Cemerony's blog showing these dolls.
Click HERE to view Cemerony's Etsy Shop

Many thanks to Cemerony and ScrapGirls for creating great products
that make my crafting experience more fun!

Thanks for dropping by.
I hope you enjoyed seeing these Victorian Photos as much as I have.

As always, till next time...

Grins and Giggles,


  1. What a great job you did on this Evelyn! Love everything and I never saw such a two sided photograph before. How special that is !
    Thanks for the credits , its so much appreciated.

    Have a great day,


  2. Thanks Julia - I think the photographs are special too and my father-in-law is a lucky man to have them in his collection.

    When I saw your dolls on Etsy I knew they were the perfect accents to use for this project. I think they are adorable.