My daughter found this photograph of a beautiful little girl in an antique store in Monroe, Washington. She was captivated by so tiny a little thing wearing pearls and brought her home for my collection. My daughter has a good eye, this is a wonderful photograph and I am equally captivated.
What we know from the photograph:
(1) The card measures 4 1/4 in. by 6 1/2 in. and is 0.034 in. thick. It has notched edges with gold embossing. The card stock's original color appears to have been buff or tan (matte finish) for the front and yellow (glossy finish) for the back.
(2) The photographer’s imprint on the front (recto) and back (verso) of the photograph lists the photographer as Rugg, 56 South 5th Street, Minneapolis.
(3) Handwritten in ink on the verso is Mary Irene Brunton Reynolds.
The card's measurements are consistent with a cabinet card. The thickness of the card stock indicates a time period of 1880 to 1900. The deckled edges indicate a time period after the mid-1800s. Edges were often covered with gilt after 1870. The use of different colors of card stock for the face and back of the mount indicates 1880 - 1890. Face of buff, matte-finished, with a back of creamy-yellow that is glossy indicates 1882 - 1888.
Conclusion: The card properties indicate a time period of the mid-1800s.
Photographer and Imprint Analysis:
How I wish every state historical society maintained a database of the photographers that operated within their state. It would be such a wonderful resource for collectors and family historians. Minnesota's Historical Society's has an excellent database.
The Minnesota Historical Society, Photographer's Database - R lists the following information for Rugg:
Rugg, Arthur B.
Also Known As: Rugg, A. B.
Place of Birth: Lancaster, Massachusetts
Date of Birth: September 11,1853
Place of Death: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date of Death: December 21, 1931
Studio: Rugg Art Company
Minnesota Historical Society Photographer's Database - R
Dates of operation for Rugg at 56 South Fifth Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota are 1886-1892.
Conclusion: The photographer's information indicates a time period of 1886-1892. The period of operation is consistent with the card properties analysis of the mid-1800s.
Mary Irene Brunton Reynolds Analysis::
A surname search found the following information posted on Genealogy.com, the Brunton Family Genealogy Forum, by Gary D. Carver (1/24/00) -
Seeking information on the descendants of Edward Samuel “Tige” Reynolds who was born in Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, Iowa on December 11, 1877. He died in Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon on April 26, 1931. He was a well known political cartoonist for several newspapers in the northwestern part of the United States including the “Portland Oregonian” and the “Tacoma Daily Ledger.” Tige Reynolds married Mary Irene Brunton, in Fresno, Fresno County, California on June 14, 1903. They had a son, Edward Brunton Reynolds and a daughter, Dorothy Lee Reynolds. Edward Brunton Reynolds died at Mercer Island, King County, Washington, on October 16, 1980. Edward Brunton Reynolds had a son, Stephen Reynolds and a daughter, Mary Jane (Reynolds) Taylor at the time of his death.A seventeen year old Mary I. Brunton is found living in Fresno, California, in 1900 with her father Edwin and her mother Ella. The census lists Mary as having been born in Illinois in December 1882. Her siblings, Ethel (11 - b. 1889), Edwin (8) and Ruth (5) were all born in California. This indicates that the family moved to California sometime between 1882, when Mary was born in Illinois, and 1889 when Ethel was born in California.
Early photographs were taken to mark passages in a person's life. Mary's younger sister Ethel was born in California in 1889, so perhaps the photograph was taken when the family decided to make the move to California prior to 1889 as a memento for those family members who stayed behind. In the alternative it could have been taken if the family traveled to Minnesota for a visit in or around 1886, after having moved to California at an earlier date.
that Mary Brunton visited to have her portrait
taken in 1886.
January 4, 1919, The Centralia Daily Chronicle announced that "Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds have moved to Tacoma with their two children, Dorothy Lee and Edward, both of whom were born in Tacoma, and will make their home in Tacoma at 1115 North E street." Reynolds was returning to the Tacoma Daily Ledger as a political cartoonist.
Mary and Edward are found living in Tacoma with their children, Dorothy and Edward, in the 1920 census. Sharing their home is Mary's sister Billy Brunton, who is thirty years old at the time of this census. Mary's sister Ethel, of the 1900 census, would be approximately thirty or thirty-one years of age in the 1920 census. The Mary I. married to Edward Reynolds is consistent with the Mary I. Brunton of the 1900 census.
Mary and Edward's son Edward Brunton died in King County in 1980, this may explain the photograph being found in an antique store in Monroe.
Conclusion: The little girl in the photograph looks approximately four or five years old. If this is the Mary Irene Brunton of the 1900 census who was born in December 1882, the date of the photograph would be 1886. This is consistent with the card stock analysis and the years of operation analysis for the Rugg Studios.
The limited information found for Mary Irene Brunton Reynolds is consistent with the time period of the card and imprint analysis. The little girl in the photograph may be the Mary Irene Brunton married to Edward (Tige) Samuel Reynolds. Further research is necessary, but this is an excellent start.
This analysis demonstrates how a photograph alone can provide many clues as to a family or collector's mystery.
A step by step photograph analysis will be posted at Shades Of The Departed as a series.
Severa, Joan. Dressed for the Photographer. Kent: Kent State University, 1995.
Darrah, William C. Cartes de Visite in 19th Century Photography. Gettysburg: Darrah, 1981.
1900 U.S. census, Fresno County, California, population schedule, Fresno City, p. 312, dwelling 48 , family 73, Edwin Brunton (Head); digital images. Heritage Quest (http://persi.heritagequestonline.com/ : retrieved 15 March 2008); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 85.
1920 U.S. census, Pierce County, Washington, population schedule, Lemons Beach, p. 218, dwelling 59 , family 60, Edward S. Reynolds (Head); digital images. Heritage Quest (http://persi.heritagequestonline.com/ : retrieved 15 March 2008); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1935.
Unknown, "Tige Reynolds Joins Ledger Staff, " The Centralia Daily Chronicle, 4 January 1919. Online archives. http://access.newspaperarchive.com : 2008.
Reynolds, Mary Irene (Brunton). Photograph. ca. 1886. Digital image. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007
Minneapolis 1886, Courtesy of Minneapolis Public Library, Minneapolis Photo Collection, M0074.
(http://www.mpls.lib.mn.us/mphoto.asp : retrieved 15 March 2008).