Friday, August 29, 2008

August 29 - Friday From The Collectors


Eyeglasses have a strong claim to be the invention that has brought
the most aid and comfort to human beings. Yet it is curious
that the name of their inventor is not certainly known,
nor the exact date of the invention.
~ A Spectacle of Spectacles ~


Collecting old photographs of women wearing glasses is my passion. I never met one I didn't want. Over the last twenty years I have accumulated a wide variety of these lovely photographs. Some are priceless, others called my name from the dusty confines of various antique shops. All of my treasures give me personal satisfaction. Now I'd like to share that passion with everyone. This will not be a discussion of eye ware or its history. It is a celebration of those brave women wearing glasses.

So why women wearing glasses you ask? I wear glasses now and always have. As a child my glasses were very "red," my favorite color at the time. As I got older I had a different color for each outfit and now I buy hand-painted frames from local artists. Glasses have always been my fashion accessory.

I own many books written about glasses and they have several things in common. There are photographs of glasses with no one wearing them and there are drawings of people wearing glasses. None of my many books contain photographs of people actually wearing glasses. I wanted to know what real people looked like wearing their glasses from the early 1800s to about 1930. So I started my quest.

Two Pince Nez
American Optical Company
c 1915

Unknown artist
c. 1810

A Spectacle of Spectacles

The first thing I realized was that I had no problem finding photographs of men wearing glasses. They were everywhere. Wearing glasses for men was viewed similarly to that of a man being overweight, it was a sign of prosperity. Far too easy a hunt I reasoned. Where were the women?

Gentleman Wearing Glasses
Cabinet Card
Author's Collection

Women wearing glasses are difficult, but not impossible to find. Although glasses have been around for quite some time, women wearing them have not. Glasses, you see, were for elderly women, a product of their age. Young women had one goal in life - to be beautiful so they would make an advantageous marriage and glasses did not enhance their beauty. Men felt there was no beauty in a young women wearing glasses, rather it was a sign that the woman felt herself equal to men. Women were discouraged from wearing glasses and sometimes even forbidden to wear glasses. God forbid a woman was able to see what she was doing.

Mature Woman Wearing Glasses
Cabinet Card
Author's Collection

The photographers themselves had a great deal to do with why there were so few photographs of women wearing glasses. Most photographers considered themselves artists in the same sense as old world painters and glasses played no part in their artistic vision. They often asked women to remove their glasses. They complained of the glare from the glasses when taking a photograph. I do find it strange that there was no glare from the glasses men were wearing.

I like a challenge, so I decided to collect women wearing glasses. Once the collection grew
I knew I had to write a book to show those real women wearing glasses. The collection and the book became one, My Blind Passion.

My collection numbers several hundred examples of women wearing glasses. Below is probably the earliest photograph I own of a woman wearing glasses. It is a daguerreotype, of which I have three. The woman looks as if taking her portrait was very painful.

Photographer Unknown
Portrait of a seated woman. ca 1850
Sixth Plate Cased daguerreotype. Author's collection.
The case is covered with brown leather
and lined with red velvet.

I also have one ambrotype and one tintype of a woman wearing glasses. As I only have one of each I'm sure you won't mind if I save them for the book. The bulk of my collection are Cartes de Visite, Cabinet Cards, and card mounted photographs. The following are examples of the different types of photographs I own.

Carte de Visite
Carte de Visite
O. E. Mitchell's
Lowell, Mass.
c. 1862
Author's Collection


Cabinet Card

Cabinet Card
Author's Collection


Card Mounted Photograph

Card Mounted Photograph
c. 1897
Author's Collection
(pince nez)


Mass Produced French Postcard

c. 1907
Author's Collection


Real Photo Postcard RPPC

Author's Collection
(pince nez)


Photo Booth Card

Photo Booth Unknown c. 1915
Author's Collection
(pince nez)

Each of the different types of photographs in the collection are broken down into sub-categories. For example, infants, children, mothers and children, vignette, sitting, standing, communion, graduation, wedding, and occupation to name a few.

One of the categories I identify as glamour shots. Attractive women dressed elegantly and brave enough to wear those glasses.

Card Mounted Photograph

Author's Collection
(pince nez)

Another category is the weird strange and unusual. Below the young woman has tied herself to the fashion trends of her time even when they were not flattering and she wears those glasses.

Cabinet Card


Author's Collection
(pince nez)

One of the more exciting sub-categories of women wearing glasses, actually doesn't involve the wearing. Instead it is photographs of women who are holding their glasses, or who have pinned their glasses to their clothing. Below is a Carte de Visite of a Civil War era woman holding her glasses in her hand (see inset).

Directly below the inset is a photograph of a woman who has attached her glasses to her clothing. These are very difficult to find.

Carte de Visite
Hobson Brothers
Author's Collection

Next is one of my favorite sub-categories, an infant wearing glasses. Just as today we place a baby in a cooking pot, put a chef's hat on their head, hand them some spoons and take their picture, early parents played cute with their infants as well. Our little girl is wearing glasses and reading the newspaper. Infants wearing glasses either for fun or function are difficult to acquire.

Cabinet Card

Author's Collection

Equally difficult to find are children wearing glasses. The little girl is wearing pince nez (pinch on the nose glasses) attached with a cord. She poses with an umbrella under her arm and an exceptionally short hairstyle which could indicate illness or hair that just wouldn't grow.

Carte de Visite
J. C. Steinman

Author's Collection
(pince nez)

Below is a photograph of a nurse wearing glasses. It depicts her wearing the clothing suitable for her particular field. Photographs that reflect job affiliated costumes are called occupational photographs. Other occupations where photographs of women wearing glasses can be found are school teacher, nanny, librarian, and nun. I have the school teacher, nanny, and librarian, I'm still searching for the nun.

Card Mounted Photograph

Author's Collection
(pince nez)

Another sub-category of collecting in women wearing glasses is women holding opera glasses or binoculars. I have very few photographs of this category. The women with opera glasses are usually elegantly dressed; the opera glasses a prop to indicate their level of culture.

Cabinet Card
Miller and Williams
Jackson, Ohio
Author's Collection
(opera glasses)

A bride must have really needed her glasses to have her wedding photograph taken wearing them.

Card Mounted Photograph
Author's Collection

I also collect ephemera to compliment my collection of women wearing glasses. Below are two small, illustrated cards we now call trade cards advertising two opticians. By the 1880s, trade cards had become a major way of advertising America's products and services. The popularity of trade cards peaked around 1890, and then almost completely faded by the early 1900s when other forms of advertising in color became more cost effective.

Trade Card

Author's Collection

Trade Card

Author's Collection

Along with advertising I collect photographs of businesses that sold eyeglasses such as the one below that advertises "Spectacles & Eyeglasses" and "Eyes Examined Free." Often the sales of eyeglasses were combined with jewelers, watchmakers and the sale of silver. Eyeglasses were one of the top items stolen, as they were originally constructed of silver and gold.

Postcard RPPC
c. 1904

Author's Collection

And now I close with my favorite photograph of a woman wearing glasses.

Recognize Her?

Copyright © 2008
Linda Palmer



Ochiali, Gli. Eyeware. New York: Chronicle Books, 1987.
Winkler, Wolf. A Spectacle of Spectacles.Germany: Eurfurt, 1988.


Gentleman Wearing Spectacles. Mayes (Cabinet Card). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Mature Woman Wearing Spectacles. Dore (Cabinet Card). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Woman Seated. Unknown (Daguerreotype). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Woman. O.E. Mitchell (Carte de Visite). 1862. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Woman With Spectacles. Allis (Cabinet Card). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Woman Pince Nez. Unknown (Card Mounted). 1897. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Woman Lorgnette. Unknown (Postcard). 1904. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Woman & Mirror. Unknown (RPPC). 1914. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Woman Several Photos. Unknown (Photo Booth). 1915. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Elegant Woman. Unknown (Card Mounted). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Weird, Strange & Unusual. Thayer (Cabinet Card). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Woman Holding Glasses. Hobson Brothers (Caret de Visite). 1862. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Infant. Fellows (Cabinet Card). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Child Wearing Pince Nez. J. C. Steinman (Carte de Visite). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Nurse. Jarvis (Card Mounted). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Woman With Opera Glasses. Miller & Willias (Cabinet Card). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Wedding. Steihaug (Card Mounted). Unknown. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.

Business. Unknown(Postcard). 1904. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2008.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Let's Use Those Family Photographs & Our Collections - Part 3

Last week in Let's Use Those Family Photographs & Our Collections - Part 2, I told you I would be discussing something special to accompany a gift of a book in this week's Web Wandering.

When you give a book, also include a piece of your family history as a bookmark.

I am designing family bookmarks. The above shows the front of the bookmark which includes the photograph, the name, and the birth and death date.

On the reverse I've included the name, the relationship, and an historical quote about Mary. A mini family history factoid. On others I've used the person's favorite saying. My father - "There'll Be No Hell For Dogs."

I designed my own template in Photoshop, but it can also be done in Microsoft Word using columns. My bookmarks measure 8.5 X 2 for use on 8.5 X 11 stock. I print them at Kinkos or a place similar. I am experimenting with different card stocks and laminating the bookmark. A hole can be punched in the top of the bookmark and a tassel added. Four bookmarks can be printed to the page and I have used four different ancestors.

This could also be a promotional item for your blog, history or genealogical society. (I have been known to drop off a few bookmarks with the genealogy section of our local public library.)

Shades Blog

Two examples of great bookmarks are shown below. The Montana Historical Society Research Center is one of my favorites as is the Seattle Opera's 1995-96 Season bookmark. They offer a lot of inspiration.

Bookmark By
Montana Historical Society

Bookmark By
Seattle Opera

There are so many ways to honor our ancestors and keep them alive in our memories. Have a great idea for a family history photo project? Tell us about it in the comments.

Next week Shades will look at a desk calendar using your family photographs. See you then!

Note: Unfortunately there are no photographs of Mary William. I designed this bookmark for a friend and did not have her permission to use the family information, so I substituted mine for illustration.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Twice Told Tuesday - The Evolution Of Hygienic Dress

Twice Told Tuesday features a photography related article reprinted from
my collection of old photography books, magazines, and newspapers.

The more things change so the saying goes and it appears to be true for humor. Shades commences this Twice Told with a joke from 1894. Then we take a look at hygienic dress and it evolution. More clothing styles to help date those old photographs.

SHE - "I hope it isn't my hundred thousand
that your after, George?"

MR. GRASPER - "Believe me, no darling.
I'd marry you if you had only ninety thousand.


Spice Box
Demorest's Magazine
December 1894

Forty years ago every woman wore a crinoline; then arose one who caused a revolution by originating "a Bloomer costume."

It was too great a shock, and died a natural death.

Some little while ago the rebellion against fashion broke out again, and the Bloomer became modified and was called "the divided skirt." But the poor wearers were subjected to ridicule, and rushed to the other extreme in Grecian dress.

Which was very graceful and pretty, but it didn't suit the practical, matter-of-fact nineteenth century.

Next came the aesthetic dress, which held full sway until it was intolerably exaggerated, and the majority sought for some other attire.

Now we are more common sense in our views, and the costume which appeared absurb are, when put to a proper use, of the utmost advantage. What could be better than a Bloomer costume on a bicycle?

What could be neater or nicer than a tailor-made gown for the street or wet weather?

And should you incline towards aesthetic dress, or yearn for a Grecian costume, you may have all you desire; and, "most important of all," you will be in fashion.


Unknown, "Joke." Demorest's Family Magazine, September 1896, 676.

Unknown, "Spice Box." Demorest's Family Magazine, December 1894, 146-148.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Photo Of The Week - 18 & 25 August :: Weird Strange and Unusual

Wedding Photo

In a recent Friday's Collector Series, Maureen Taylor introduced Shades readers to her very interesting collection of wedding photographs. I do not collect wedding photographs, but after looking at the article I wondered what I did have in the way of weddings.

I have a collection category I deem "Weird, Strange, and Unusual." The name is an apt description of what can be found in this category. In looking through those photographs I found four photographs that were taken of weddings. I have chosen one of those wedding photographs as the Photo Of The Week. This photograph is classified as unusual, as I have not seen many wedding photographs that picture the bride and groom as well as a child.

Information taken from photograph:

(1) The card measures 4 1/4 in. (h) by 6 1/2 in. (w) and is 0.03 in. thick. The image measures 3 15/16 in. (w) X 5 1/2 in. (w). The sides of the card are scalloped, the corners of the card are square, all with gold edge. The card stock's original color appears to have been cream (matte finish) for the front and back. There is no border line. The ink used to identify the photographer is green.

(2) The photographer’s imprint on the front (recto) lists the photographer Ball & Rindahl Studio, Main Street, Grafton, N. Dak.

(3) The back (verso) of the card is blank cream in color.

(4) Background - a rather elaborately painted backdrop.


Card stock and size:

This is a cabinet card on card stock used from 1880 forward. The card stock and size are consistent with photographs produced during the period of time the photographic studio operated its business in Grafton, North Dakota. (See below.)


Henry A. Ball and J. O. Rindahl. Ball was a partner in Ball & Rindahl, Grafton, North Dakota, in 1890; a partner in Ball, Dix & Mead, Ft. Randall, Dakota Territory. The association with Dix and Mead would have been prior to 1890 as the Dakota Territory was divided into the states of North Dakota and South Dakota on November 2, 1889.

Ball and Rindahl had a fifteen year business association. The elaborate backdrop may have been painted by Rindahl as he was a landscape painter (See below).

The clothing of those pictured in the photograph:

The hairstyle of the bride is consistent with the styles worn during the beginning of the 1890s and the end of the previous period. A large section of hair at the top of her head is cut into a curly fringe. The rest of the hairstyle can not be seen in the photograph.

The bride's gown is more consistent with the time period of 1883-1888. The sleeves are skin tight ending just short of the wrist with no cuff. The neckline appears to be a stiff moderately-high standing collar with a collar band underneath just barely visible.

She wears a perfect fitting bodice, a skirt just above floor length with lace trim, a draped overskirt and small bustle. The veil is a filmy full body veil with what looks like the traditional orange blossom trim.

I found a hat similar to that held by the young boy in the Fort Wayne Sentinel, July 02, 1890.

All of this is consistent with the late 1880s early 1890. The cabinet card was most likely produced in the 1880s early 1890.

The photograph and the story it tells:

With the child pictured in the wedding photograph it is a reasonable assumption that this is a second wedding for either the bride or the groom. The child is not positioned in the center of the photograph between the bride and the groom. Instead he stands to the right of the groom, leans on him, and has his hand on the groom's leg. The groom has his arm around the child. The child's attachment appears to be to the groom.

Father & Son?

Could the child be the son of the bride? It is highly doubtful. The bride is wearing a white gown. Were this her second marriage her wedding gown would most probably have been grey or lilac. The convention of the time was that a first time bride brought her virginity to the marriage as part of her dowry. That virginity was evidenced by the wearing of a white gown.

The white gown may also be evidence of the family's financial position. Many brides during this time wore their Sunday best as a bridal gown. Purchasing a white wedding dress for a one time use was an expensive purchase. Most white wedding dresses were worn by brides whose family had money.

The Young Bride

It is also unusual that the bride is not wearing a wedding ring in the photograph. Was the photograph taken before the ceremony? The most unusual feature of the photograph is what the groom is holding in his left hand, the hand closest to his heart. At first I thought it might be an envelope or the wedding certificate. However, when I enlarged this portion of the photograph I could see the object appeared to be stiff and had rounded corners. The object looks very much like a cabinet card face down. Could the groom be holding a photograph of his deceased wife and the mother of his son?

What Is The Groom Holding?

Many times I have commented that photographs of this period were not left to chance. Symbolism played a large part in what appeared in a studio portrait. Photographs of those who could not be present at an occasion were often seen being held in the photograph. Yes, this could be a photograph of the first wife. I have not seen this in any other wedding photograph (if you have - please comment or email a copy of the photograph to me. I would love to see another photograph like this.)

The bride appears to be very young, quite a bit younger than the groom. Perhaps an older bride would have objected to the cabinet card taking such a prominent place in her wedding photograph. A younger bride might not.

Note: Like coming upon an automobile accident after the dust settles and the cars stop moving, what really happened can be simple or a great surprise, and a look alone rarely determines what happened. The whys and wherefores of a photograph can be equally difficult and often as incorrect. There could be many other plausible explanations for the photograph.

The story of the photographer:

Henry A. Ball

Henry A. Ball was born in Albany county, New York, December 9, 1845. He came to Minnesota in 1866 where it appears from the census he studied photography with his younger brother Jerome. In 1869 he settled in Delano where he established the first newspaper in the town, called the Big Woods Citizen, with Daniel Fish.

In 1870 Henry is living with his first wife Carolyn in Glencoe, Minnesota in the home of William Russell a cheese maker and his wife Lavica. Sometime between 1870 and June of 1879, Henry's wife Carolyn dies. Henry then marries Jennie Webb in Delano, Minnesota, 9 June 1879.

Henry and Jennie are found living in Melrose, Sterns County, Minnesota in a boarding house owned and operated by Peter Wilhelm. Henry's occupation is listed as a photographer, it was in Delano that Henry became a professional photographer.

Henry and his wife Jenny arrive in the Dakota Territory in about 1883. Henry is a partner in Ball, Dix, and Mead in Ft. Randall, Dakota Territory, producing stereoviews probably for the Black Hills View Company of Deadwood, Dakota Territory. The Dakota Territory was divided into the states of North Dakota and South Dakota on November 2, 1889. Dakota Territory was the name of an organized territory of the United States that existed from 1861 to 1889.

In 1883, Henry and Jennie are living in Grafton, North Dakota and operating a photography business. Henry becomes a partner in Ball and Rindahl in 1890, a partnership that lasted for fifteen years.

In 1920 Henry Ball is a 75 year-old justice of the peace. Upon his death in North Dakota, Henry is the state's oldest last veteran of the civil war having served in Company D 7th New York heavy artillery and in the 113th NY Regiment. He was wounded at Coal Harbor.

J.O. Rindahl

September 6, 1895 he was living in Grafton, North Dakota and working as a photographer, but was traveling in Berlin. His passport application states that he was 6 feet tall with grey eyes and light colored hair.

J.O. Rindahl was born on a farm in Stevens, Wisconsin, 10 January 1861. His boyhood days were characterized with vivid dreams of the beautiful pictures he would paint, the marvelous statues he would carve, and the magnificent palaces he would build – dreams of a normal healthy boyhood, in which the soul of an artist was seeking expression.

Being one of a family of twelve, and growing up in the midst of pioneer conditions, dreams had to give way to stern realities of life. In spite of obstacles he managed to get some instruction in drawing from different instructors, but it was not enough to realize his hopes on, so he finally drifted into the photography business, in which he met with no little success.

In 1895, Rindahl went abroad. While there he visited some of the renowned Art Galleries, and saw some of the world’s greatest masterpieces in art. They brought back to him in full force the unrealized dreams of his boyhood. He returned to Grafton, and in the moments he could spare from his photography business, and with his talent of no mean order, permeated with the inspiration he had received from his studious travels, he began to shape his dreams on canvas.

J.O. Rindahl in his studio
in Grafton, North Dakota

The large photograph was taken in Rindahl’s studio while he was at work on an altarpiece entitled” “Easter Morning,” for one of Grafton’s churches. He has painted several large canvas paintings, which adorn the altars of a number of churches in the State; and among the original sketches he has painted, are the subjects: “Too Late,” “From the Past,” “Alone,” The Last Call,” “The Witch,” and “Scene near Lillehauser, Norway.”



Darrah, William C. Cartes de Visite in 19th Century Photography. Gettysburg: Darrah, 1981.
MacPhail, Anna. The Well Dressed Child. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer, 1999.
McCulloch, Lou W.
Card Photographs, A Guide To Their History and Value. Exton, Pennsylvania: Schiffer 1981.
Mace, O. Henry.
Collector's Guide To Early Photographs. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause, 1999.
Mautz, Carl. Biographies of Western Photographers. Nevada City, California: Carl Mautz Publishing, 1997.
Nickell, Joe. Camera Clues. Lexington, Kentucky: University
Press of Kentucky, 1994.
Palmquist, Peter.
Pioneer Photographers Of The Far West A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2000.
Severa, Joan.
Dressed For The Photographer. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1995.
Collections By Minnesota Historical Society, Georgia Historical Society Published by The Society, 1912.
Grafton Centennial, Grafton Carnegie Library, telephone conversation with librarian Sue Vot, 22 August 2008.


1870 U.S. census, McLeod, Minnesota, population schedule, Glencoe, p. 151, dwelling 29 , family 29, Henry A. Ball (Boarder); digital images. Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 16 August 2008); citing NARA microfilm publication T132, roll 7.

1880 U.S. census, Stearns, Minnesota, population schedule, Melrose, p. 550, dwelling 42 , family 42, Henry A. Ball (Boarder); digital images. Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 16 August 2008); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 634.

1900 U.S. census, Walsh, North Dakota, population schedule, Grafton, p. 166, dwelling 376 , family 391, Henry A. Ball (Head); digital images. Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 16 August 2008); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1233.

1910 U.S. census, Walsh, North Dakota, population schedule, Grafton, p. 199, dwelling 161 , family 164, J.O. Rindahl (Boarder); digital images. Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 16 August 2008); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1145.

1920 U.S. census, Walsh, North Dakota, population schedule, Grafton, p. 111, dwelling 113 , family 120, Henry A. Ball (Head); digital images. Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 16 August 2008); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1342.


Wedding by Ball and Rindahl. Cabinet Card. ca 1890. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007

Passport U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2007. Original data: Passport Applications, 1795-1905; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1372, 694 rolls); General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59; National Archives, Washington, D.C.