Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Baffled Photographer

It seems pet photography was popular even in 1883 and it had its own problems; owing to the length of time needed for the exposure. Below is the story of a pampered cat and three farm dogs who arrived to have their portrait taken and what should have been the anticipated results.

The Baffled Photographer

A Des Moines photographer’s saloon was the scene of a lively chase, not long since, wherein a cat, three pups and several nervous persons participated. A cat’s picture was to have been taken, but it was not, because pussy’s nerves were not equal to an emergency :

Pussy was placed on a box, her hair smoothed down, a red ribbon adjusted, her whiskers fixed “just so,” and her tail wrapped softly around her front feet. She was then patted on the head, told to keep very quiet, and the Camera was turned on her.

The operator stood, watch in hand, counting off the seconds while the owner of the cat stood with her heart in her mouth, wondering if pussy would move. When the time was about half gone – woe to the “best laid plans of mice and men” – and the picture was about assured, in came an old farmer and his wife, with three fine specimens of bulldogs to be “taken.”

The dogs developed, suddenly, their love for cats – love to see the cats run – and they made a straight shoot for pussy, who was quietly waiting the finishing touches on her picture.

She did not stay any longer, but her back made a half moon, her smoothed hair was spoiled, and her tail alone was too big for the Camera. With a spit and a yell, she jumped from the chair and attempted to go home.

The windows and doors were all closed. She ran under every chair in the room, over every table and into every nook and corner.

The pups followed. Every woman in the house climbed a chair and screamed, the baby yelled at the top of his voice, the farmer followed the pups, trying to induce them to give up the chase, and the operator stood and looked as though he was wishing cats and dogs had been forgotten in the general make-up of things.

After the cat had tried every other place, she made a dart for the dark room, and as the pans and other traps went tumbling to the floor, the operator groaned a groan that was full of anguish.

It got too warm in there for pussy, and she sought for a more quiet abode.

Some one had been thoughtful enough in the mean time to open a window, and the cat, whose eyes were opened wider than when sitting for her picture, saw the chance for escape and improved it.

The whole outfit, pups and all, had to go home for repairs and to cool off, and that gallery lost three or four jobs for that day.

The Photograph

The photograph that accompanies this article is from the footnoteMaven's collection. It is dated approximately 1874 and shows that photographs of the family pets continued to be a favorite. Here we have a portrait of a cat and dog together, probably owing to the fact that much less time was needed for the exposure than in 1883. It does look as if the cat has waited all it intends to, and is about to jump on the unsuspecting sleeping dog.

The Photographer

On the back of a Victorian photograph - at the bottom - may be some tiny printed writing, that indicates the company that printed the card and sold the cardstock to the photographer.

Printed at the bottom on the reverse of this photograph is Copyright, Marion Imp, Paris Depose. In the 1870s the only information printed on the cardstock by Marion was "Marion Imp, Paris." The card then can be dated from 1870 forward.

The imprint on the back of the photograph depicts bamboo and roses in the design shown. In about 1874 Marion began using this as their new standard design. It was printed in pink, green and other colors, (Bamboo and Roses) with a bamboo design of an oval with squares in the corner and roses. As Marion didn't want this design to be copied by everyone, they marked them with Copyright, Marion, Imp Paris Depose. An example of this exact design can be found on Roger Vaughn's page of descriptions of Marion Imprints. The card can be dated from 1874 forward.

Next we determine if there was a photographer named Campbell working at Cromwell Place, Fort Ayr in 1874. The Ayrshire History website lists a compilation of the photographers who were working in Ayrshire and the dates they were working. David Campbell is listed in the 1873/74 Directory at 9 Cromwell Place. Subsequent to 1874 the address is used by James Rae and Ambrose Bara photographers.

Unless Rae and Bara purchased and were using Campbell's cardstock, (they were Scots after all) we can date this photograph to approximately 1874.

CAMPBELL, David, Ayr. At 9 Cromwell Place, AYR, in 1861/62 and 1864/65 Directories. Mrs David Campbell, photographer, listed in 1867/68 Directory.
"Campbell’s" listed in 1870/71 and 1873/74 Directories. Address subsequently used by James Rae and Ambrose Bara. Appears to be a different individual from following entry.

Notes on David Campbell 9 Cromwell Place, Ayr:

[D Campbell respectfully announces, that from the success he has experienced as an Amateur Photographer during the last 5 years, he has been induced, at the solicitation of a number of friends, to commence the practice of PHOTOGRAPHY Professionally; and that he has just opened those commodious premises, specially erected for a photographic studio, at No,20 New Bridge Street, where he intends following out the Art in all its branches. The Art taught in a few lessons. 20 New Bridge Street, Ayr, April 1859.] [20 New Bridge Street address of James Brewster after September 1860]

[D Campbell, photographic artist, Cromwell Place, Fort, Ayr. "The Art taught in a few lessons"]

[Praise for views shown by Campbell at London Photographic Exhibition - called by BJP one of the few ‘new artistes who are likely to be men of mark". See ref in AA file. AA 7.2.1861 carries big advert, with long list of views available. Address: "9 Cromwell Place ‘the corner house opposite the Fort Castle’".]

["David Campbell. Begs to announce his return from Haddingtonshire. His portrait rooms will be open on and after Thursday first. He has brought with him a large number of new photographs, specimens of which will shortly be added to his collection. 9 Cromwell Place, Fort, Ayr. 14th May 1861".]

[Campbell’s Photographic Portrait Rooms and Photographic Printing Establishment, 9 Cromwell Place, Fort, Ayr].

[David Campbell, photographer, 9 Cromwell Place, Fort "has opened his portrait establishment for the season. I have .... this year engaged a Competent Assistant, who will conduct the Portrait Department in my absence".]


Unknown, "The Baffled Photographer."
American Journal of Photography and Photographers’ Price Current, June 1883, 2.

Subject Unknown, Photograph - Carte-de-visites. ca. 1874. Digital image. Original privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007.

Ayrshire History, 19th Century Photographers in Ayrshire, copyright Rob Close, compilation (http://www.ayrshirehistory.org.uk/Photographers/photographers1.htm#C : 25 March 2008), David Campbell entry.

Victorian and Edwardian Photographs - Roger Vaughan Personal Collection, Marion - Victorian Photograph Card Printers, copyright Roger Vaughn, (http://www.cartes.freeuk.com/dated/marion.htm : 24 March 2008).


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