Saturday, November 28, 2015

Anna's Cabinet of Curiosities (Photography)

So it's been quite awhile since I've blogged. A lot has changed since the last I have. I've pulled away from the Paranormal Community in the last year, starting in January. As of recently I've completely isolated myself in light of a major move and other life changes that I'm happy have happened.

Most people know, the Paranormal is a pretty small facet in things I enjoy. My first love is collecting strange and even macabre antiques and vintage items. This includes Memento Mori mourning items, Medical devices, Quack Medicine, antique taxidermy, entomology pieces, so on and so forth. I decided to start showing my collection, much like I do on my Facebook. Turns out people really enjoy seeing and reading about my items. SO, here's the first installment of "Anna's Cabinet of Curiosities" (Although my hobby has now far exceeded a cabinet). I'll start with some interesting photos. These are all from my personal collection. Enjoy!

Some pictures are so profoundly odd, that I immediately fall in love, just due to content. This one is a great example. Doesn't look like much until you look into the back ground and see the guy creeping out from a doorway. Wish I knew the story behind it.

This hauntingly beautiful couple came into my life by pure chance. On an afternoon a friend and I had been antique shopping in about 5-10 different stores. Walking out of the very last store after an unsuccessful day of treasure hunting, I saw these guys above the cash register. I asked the price, positive it would be outside my budget. It's a pretty large hanging photo. The store attendant said she'd have to call the boss to find out a price because they had just got it in, and it wasn't marked. After a few moments of her asking, "You sure?" and reminding him which photo she was talking about, she hung up. She shrugged her shoulders and she said, "He wants $20 for it".

I have no history on them but I sure wish I did. Every picture I get in a frame, it's tempting to look at the backs of photos.

The Hidden Mother

Victorian photography studios loved a good illusion, whether it was to accommodate the long exposure time, or play with it.

While spirit photography is pretty well-known (thanks in large part to Lincoln’s “ghost”), here are a few other tricks that you might not know about. Recently, Linda Fregni Nagler published a book called The Hidden Mother where she compiled over a thousand photographs of a parent masquerading as a chair beneath a cloak. As the exposure could take a good part of a minute, and children aren’t exactly thrilled to sit still for their portraits, parents would hide and hold them still. But the results were kind of creepy — like specters looming up behind the uneasy kids. There was always this sense of a high mortality, too, especially for children, making the ghostly presences especially ominous.

Below are some of these “hidden mothers” (and possibly fathers, although it’s hard to tell, of course), as well as other Victorian photography tricks and illusions, where death was always around the corner, and the medium of photography was just starting to be a part of life. And other things that we might not consider as tricks now — like coloring photographs — was as fantastic as a person holding their head (well, almost).

Another tintype I picked up. Appears she was in a unioncase at one time, but I really don't know what to make of her? Any of my antique people give me any opinions? At first I thought she had painted eyes, but I'm sure if her hands are deformed, or blurred from movement.

Here's a little tintype I picked. Small child who appears to either have a severe lazy eye, or maybe a glass eye, or another deformity? Either way I found her captivating 😍 The name on the back is Touella DeWitt.

This funeral themed Photo I bought at an Antique Faire for $1.50. I have no history on it. The wreath reads "father".

President McKinley #1901 Stereoview

The 25th President of the United States, William McKinley, was shot and fatally wounded on September 6, 1901, inside the Temple of Music on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. McKinley was shaking hands with the public when he was shot by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist. The President died on September 14 from gangrene caused by the bullet wounds.

McKinley initially appeared to be recovering, but took a turn for the worse on September 13 as his wounds became gangrenous, and died early the next morning; Vice President Theodore Roosevelt succeeded him. After McKinley's murder, for which Czolgosz was put to death in the electric chair, the United States Congress passed legislation to officially charge the Secret Service with the responsibility for protecting the president.

An autopsy was performed later on the morning of McKinley's death; Mann led a team of 14 physicians. They found the bullet had passed through the stomach, then through the transverse colon, and vanished through the peritoneum after penetrating a corner of the left kidney. There was also damage to the adrenal glands and pancreas. Mynter, who participated in the autopsy, later stated his belief that the bullet lodged somewhere in the back muscles, though this is uncertain as it was never found. After four hours, Ida McKinley demanded that the autopsy end. A death mask was taken, and private services took place in the Milburn House before the body was moved to Buffalo City and County Hall for the start of five days of national mourning. McKinley's body was ceremoniously taken from Buffalo to Washington, and then to Canton. On the day of the funeral, September 19, as McKinley was taken from his home on North Market Street for the last time, all activity ceased in the nation for five minutes. Trains came to a halt, telephone and telegraph service was stopped. Leech stated, "the people bowed in homage to the President who was gone".

Ambrotype, left, Daguerrotype type on the right.

On the right is said to be a post mortem Daguerrotype, waiting to have this confirmed by an expert.

On the left an Ambrotype of two Victorian Era women..they are alive...its in need of some repairs.


"The earliest non-film, non-paper photographs were Daguerreotypes. They were made between about 1839 and 1860, although some continued to be made up until present time by those who admire this process. The image was set onto polished silver — this was a non-emulsion method — so they have a mirrored surface in which you can see your own reflection. You won't find this with any other type of photographic process. This highly reflective surface makes it a little difficult to see the image itself without turning it back and forth a little until it is at an angle where the subject matter is visible and clear.

The earliest Daguerreotypes were made on silver clad onto copper, and later ones were electroplated onto copper. Since silver tarnishes, Daguerreotypes had to be encased behind glass and then sealed to keep out air and moisture. If you have a Daguerreotype, it will be enclosed in a hinged case, and under no circumstances should you try to remove it from the case, as doing so can cause irreparable damage. The earliest Daguerreotypes had a gray or bluish coloration, but ones made in later years had more of a light brown tinge with some blue where they were tarnished. In most cases, the majority of the tarnishing will be around the edges of the plate.

The images in Daguerreotypes were usually very crisp and detailed, but they were laterally-reversed, left to right, unless, in rare circumstances, a reversing mirror was used when the photo was taken. So, unless you have other non-Daguerreotypes of the person in your Daguerreotype, you might not ever know whether they parted their hair on the left or on the right, or if the mole was on their left cheek or their right, etc."

Information credit:


"Ambrotypes were at the height of their popularity between about 1853 and 1870, although they continued to be made until well into the 1890s. They were more popular in America, and in Europe they were called "amphitypes."

Like Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes were often laterally-reversed and they were also mounted in hinged cases because the image was set onto an emulsion-coated glass and needed a background behind it, such as black paint or varnish directly applied to the glass, or japanned cardboard (black baked-on lacquer), black velvet, or a black varnished metal mounted behind the glass. Ambros are shiny but, unlike Daguerreotypes, they do not have the mirrored surface and they lack the sharp contrast of a Daguerreotype. Ambros tend to be rather dark throughout, even when tinted. If an ambrotype is not in a case, you can tell it from a tintype or Daguerreotype by the fact that it is on glass and is therefore transparent.

Ambrotypes can degrade over time, with the black paint or varnish cracking or peeling, giving it a blistered look, and the emulsion can darken further, causing additional loss of contrast. Ambros do not tarnish and so they do not have the bluish coloration found in tarnished Daguerreotypes, but when the background is damaged, the image appears to be destroyed, even though in many cases it can be restored. Most ambrotypes were made in the same sizes as Daguerreotypes so that either could be mounted in the same size cases."

Information credit:

So everyone knows I love history, especially anything slightly macabre or death related. I absolutely love the human experience and to me, having a small window into these peoples lives is a huge honor. I thought this piece was amazing ♥ Check out this little post card I just picked up.

Man & Woman in Buggy with Horses - Funeral Motif
The card is written by the woman in the picture, and it reads:
"I have got the wreath of flowers and the Scarf on my lap, the last Christmas present he ever got me. The wreath was off his casket. Dear Niece, as I thought I would send you one of mine and Walter's pictures and your dear Cousin Jimmy's horses and buggy. The Dear one that is gone, the one you loved so well and you know he loved you. The one is gone to Heaven above and you can look at this picture and think of the last time you ever rode in his buggy for it was the last day he ever rode in the buggy. Maudie"

Mailed: Written and dated Feb 16, 1909, but not mailed.

I have to wonder if she ever got the message any other way since it wasnt mailed. Also makes me wonder why it was never mailed. She must have missed Jimmy dearly.... so fascinating.

This is so cool my 1800's antique tintype mourning brooch, with the decedents hair inside. According to the guy I bought it from, it was found in the attic of a Georgia home. Civil War Era, Said to be that of a Civil War Soldier. Wish I had more of the history on it!

Another Funeral themed photo of mine. A beautiful random Victorian cemetery scene post funeral. On the arrangements, are the words "caro padrino cara madrina" meaning 🌹💀 "Dear godfather, dear godmother"

Now this interesting lady is a post card of a Daguerrotype titled "Masked Woman" from the Collection of W. Bruce Lundberg Secrets of the Dark Chamber: The Art of the American Daguerreotype

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