Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Eve Mystery!

Youth, Middle Age, Old Age

A recently acquired photograph is Shades Christmas Eve Mystery! This photograph is perfect for Christmas Eve. On the verso (back), of the card mounted photograph is written December 24, 1904, Honolulu, Hawaii. The three stages of life on the recto (front) remind me of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The sitter's name appears on the reverse, but I am unable to read what it says. Hence a Christmas Eve Mystery!

Can you make out the name? Can you solve the mystery! I have my own opinion, I'd like to hear yours.

Select The Photograph Sans Enhancement. For you to tinker with.

Select The Photograph With Enhancement.

There is no photographer listed.

I'm looking forward to your opinions!

Merry Christmas Eve!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Makes Cowboys Sing The Blues?

A cowboy takes his lonely computer in hand
And tries to find the Shades Out West on broadband
But it's not there & slightly overdue
And that's what makes cowboys sing the blues

The Christmas Card Contained In The
Shades Out West Issue

Yet again, an issue of Shades is overdue. There is no one to blame but its editor, what's her name, and for that I sincerely apologize. 2010 is not a year I shall look back on with undiluted pleasure. In the words of Queen Elizabeth II, it has turned out to be an 'annus horribilis.'

There have been some personal events that have interrupted the flow of the magazine. For now, and being truthful, I am exhausted. I am going to take this time to spend Christmas with my family and maybe even sleep for an entire day.

The Out West issue will be published January 1, 2011; the Good Lord willing and the creeks don't rise. In the new year Shades will be published February 1, April 1, June 1, August 1, October 1, and December 1. Six issues per year. This will be a more manageable schedule for the editor and all our contributors.

We will be adding new columns, new columnist and contributors. We have some amazing people and articles scheduled.

The Shades Editorial Staff, our Columnists, and Contributors would like to wish our readers A Very Merry Christmas and an on-time New Year!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Twice Told Tuesday - Merry Xmas

The beautiful young Edwardian woman you see in this photograph is one of the orphans in my photographic collection. She caught my eye not only for her beauty, but for the gold embossed Merry Xmas displayed at the bottom of her cabinet card.

She was one of the featured photographs in the December/Holiday issue of Shades Of The Departed The Magazine in the Everything Old Is New Again article.

"Beauty" probably sat for this Christmas portrait in the early 1900s.
Was Merry Xmas in use in the early 1900s? I thought Xmas was something new, could it be something old? To solve my mystery, I consulted my collection of dictionaries and found the following answer. (Yes, I also collect dictionaries.)

The Winston Dictionary
College Edition
- 1946 -

Xmas abbr. Christmas: - Xn., Christian (also Xtian.): -Xnty., Christianity (also Xty.)

Collegiate Dictionary
Eleventh Edition
- 2004 -

Xmas n [X symbol for Christ, fr. the GK letter chi (X), initial of Christos Christ) + -mas (in Christmas)] (1551): CHRISTMAS

"X" (as in chi) was used as an abbreviation for Christ from early times, some saying that it was initially a camouflage for the religion. It is the first letter of the word Christos (meaning "the anointed one," e.g., the Messiah) and fortuitously was cross-shaped. Xmas has been used as a scholarly and not-so-scholarly abbreviation since.

So, Xmas is not the "something new" I thought it was, but the "something old" of the Christian religion!

Merry Xmas "Beauty" and thank you for the history lesson!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Eyes Have It

No, it's not a photograph, but it is a very famous image. An image whose model has always been a mystery. And you know how we love a mystery.
And the mystery is being solved with high-resolution images. Even better.

Well, it seems Da Vinci has done it again. A recently discovered code. A code that may reveal the identity of the enigmatic model know as the Mona Lisa. A code left for us to find by Da Vinci.

An Italian researcher claims that Leonardo da Vinci painted tiny letters into the eyes of the Mona Lisa. Letters which could reveal, once and for all, the identity of the woman who modeled for this famous portrait.

Using high resolution images, researcher, Silvano Vinceti, chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage, stood eye to eye with the Mona Lisa.

"Invisible to the naked eye and painted in black on green-brown are the letters LV in her right pupil, obviously Leonardo's initials, but it is what is in her left pupil that is far more interesting," said Vinceti.

He has announced that the letters B or S, or possibly the initials CE, were discernible. A vital clue? The model has often been identified as Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant. Vinceti disagreed, claiming Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa in Milan, not Florence.

In true cliff-hanger style, Vinceti will announce his conclusions next month.

"On the back of the painting are the numbers '149', with a fourth number erased, suggesting he painted it when he was in Milan in the 1490s, using as a model a woman from the court of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan," said Vinceti.

"Leonardo was keen on symbols and codes to get messages across, and he wanted us to know the identity of the model using the eyes, which he believed were the door to the soul and a means for communication," said Vinceti.

He said that while researching the model's identity he had been inspired by a 1960s book by a French art historian, which mentions the letters in her eyes.

"Under the right-hand arch of the bridge seen in the background, Leonardo also painted 72, or L2, another possible clue," he added. "Two expert painters consulted by The Guardian, UK, say all these marks, painted using a tiny brush and a magnifying glass, cannot be an error."



The Guardian UK Online, December, 2010.


Courtesy of WikiCommons.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How Much Is That Baby In The Window

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

Photographs were used to bring together the homeless child and the childless home. One of this country's most famous magazines, The Delineator published a Child Rescue Campaign combining sweet photographs of young children with a poignant story told in the style of the time. I am conflicted with regard to this article. I think you may be as well.

The Delineator
June 1909, pg. 793
"The Delineator Child Rescue Campaign"

Now and then Nature sends into the world two children united by the bond of twinship, and this close tie of blood commands for them more than the ordinary share of human interest. Such children reveal mysterious sympathies and startling similarities, even though in outward appearance, in character and in disposition they may differ greatly. The separation of twins is a cruel injustice, and therefore The Delineator asks that they be placed in one home.

Willie and Winnie were born five years ago, in Anaconda, Montana. They were most unwelcome in the little family which had but a precarious existence in the Rocky Mountain mining camp.

There were two other children. The father spent most of his earnings in the saloons; the mother resented poverty. The coming of the twins was regarded as a cruel indignity, a final stroke of ill-luck.

For three years the mother gave the twins unwilling care, then one day she deserted her family. For more than a year the father tried to support his four children, but he relapsed into his old ways, and recently the twins were placed in the care of the Montana Home Society.

The mother has not been heard from since she obtained a divorce and married again, and the father has signed a release, so that Willie and Winnie are free for adoption.

A glance at the faces of these children gives assurance that they are bright and healthy, although from babyhood they have been poorly fed and sadly neglected. They have a close dependence upon each other and appear to understand their present position of uncertainty.

Both are affectionate, obedient, and unselfish. They are docile, good-tempered and easily controlled. Both gave evidence of first rate mentality. They are the types of the American girl and boy of more than average intelligence, and, in just the right environment, they will improve rapidly.

It is desired that these children shall be adopted by residents of Montana.


Magazine and Photograph

"The Delineator Child Rescue Campaign."The Delineator, June 1909, 793.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shades Out West Issue

Due to a family emergency, Shades Of The Departed's "Out West Edition" will be posted December 15.











This Week's Shades Old Photo On Twitter

This week's Shades Old Photo On Twitter is Walter Lian - a very happy baby. He isn't 19th Century, but I believe he's just a few years off. His smile is almost a look of surprise and you have to wonder if he has made a noise with the bell in his hand that wasn't expected.

What The Photograph Tells Us:

(1) The card mount measures 6 in. X 8 in and is 1.55mm thick. The photograph measures approximately 4 in. by 5 1/2 in. The edges of the card are beveled, the corners are rounded. The card stock is textured, the original color appears to be a darker brown (matte finish) front, lighter tan back, and a creme colored bevel.

(2) The photographer’s imprint on the front (recto) of the photograph lists the photographer as Holand, Grand Forks, N.D.

(3) Handwritten in ink on the verso is William Lian (under year old). Barely legible at the bottom of the card is Viola Hansen.

(4) Walter is wearing a white eyelet long gown. His hair is bowl cut with no part. The chair he is sitting on is a wicker and bentwood chair in a sled or chaise form. He holds a bell. The background is well done and of a high quality. Care and attention have been taken to the cropping of the photograph and its mounting on the card stock.

Card Analysis:

The card is consistent with mounts of the early to mid-1900s in both size, thickness, texture, bevel, and color.

Photographer and Imprint Analysis:

The card lists the place of business as Grand Forks, N.D., not territory, but the state of North Dakota. North Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The oldest the card could be would be the year 1889.

An Albert Holand/Holland is found in Grand Forks, North Dakota, owning his own photographic business in both 1900 and 1910. Holland immigrated from Norway in 1884 and is listed in the 1910 census as 44 years old. I find no Albert Holand and no photographer listed for that section of Grand Forks in 1920.

Conclusion: Holand could have been in business as early as November 1889 (North Dakota statehood - he would have been 18 years old) and as late as December 1919 (1920 census enumerated in January). This is a thirty year span of time and not particularly helpful to dating the photograph.

At this point Grand Forks' directories and newspapers should be researched for further information on Albert Holand.

William Lian Analysis:

Lian is a fairly uncommon surname. There are only 131 Lians listed in total for the 1880 - 1920 census. No Walter Lian is found in the 1900 or 1910 census for Grand Forks or for anywhere in the United States. A Walter K. Lian is found in the 1920 census for Sheridan, Montana. He is the step-son of twenty-eight year old Edward Corey, a coal miner, and Corey's thirty-seven year old wife Laura. According to the census Walter was born in North Dakota and is thirteen years old as of January 17, 1920.

We have absolutely no proof this is the Walter Lian in the photograph. Assuming it is, Walter would have been under a year old in 1907. Birth certificates as well as the Ancestry census for 1900 and 1910 should be explored for further information on Walter.

Clothing and Furniture Analysis:

The long white eyelet gown worn by Walter is consistent with what was called a day gown and was worn by both boys and girls in the early 1900s. His bowl cut hairdo is not significant, as babies' hair was what it was, conforming only to what the child was born with.

Most photographs during this period of history were taken to commemorate one of life's passages or a special occasion. We have nothing here to indicate a passage or a special occasion.

Before the turn of the century, Victorian-style wicker became extremely popular. The Victorian style was highly fanciful with an abundance of curves, curlicues and intricate patterns. However, early in the 20th century, public taste veered toward straighter lines and more simple designs in wicker.

This wicker piece, which looks like a small sled or chaise, is much less ornate than the Victorian style of the turn of the century and is consistent with other furniture pieces I have found dated between 1900 and 1910.

Conclusion: The clothing and furniture are consistent with the period 1900 - 1910.

The photograph in relation to the mount, photographer, clothing, and furniture is consistent with the period of 1900 - 1910. If the Walter Lian of the 1920 census is our pictured baby, then the photograph could be dated 1907.

This is far too much supposition and too little proof, but does show the process of analysis.

Note: An exception to the rule. In the analysis of small children and babies to determine if the child is a boy or girl, we often use the hair as a clue. Parted on either side is generally a boy child, parted in the middle is generally a girl child. With this photograph the child is identified as Walter, which we assume is a boy child. (I have never heard of a girl child being named Walter, but stranger things have happened.) Please note, Walter's hair is bowl cut with no part. An exception to the generality.



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.
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.


1900 U.S. census, Grand Forks County, North Dakota, population schedule, Grand Forks, p. 169, dwelling 35, family 98, Albert Holland (Head); digital images.
Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 1 April 2008); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 169.

1910 U.S. census, Grand Forks County, North Dakota, population schedule, Grand Forks, p. 183, dwelling 99, family 154, Albert Holland (Head); digital images. Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 3 April 2008); citing NARA microfilm publication
T624, roll 1142.

1920 U.S. census, Sheridan County, Montana, population schedule, Sheridan, p. 140, dwelling 29 , family 29, Edward Corey (Head); digital images. Heritage Quest ( : retrieved 1 April 2008); citing NARA microfilm publication
T625, roll 975.


Lian, Walter. Photograph. ca. 1900 - 1910. Digital image. Privately held by the footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washington. 2007


Monday, December 6, 2010

A Date With An Old Photo

I received an Ancestry Email with an article authored by my favorite Photo Detective, Maureen Taylor. Maureen announced the addition of the Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993, online database in the Ancestry Collections.

I use old catalogs and magazines to help date many of my old photographs. The addition of the Sears Catalog will be a real boon to my research. With these catalogs you have the ability to search for accessories such as watches, jewelry and glasses prominently displayed in some of your family photographs and collections. Shoes, hats and clothing are all there as well.
This database is filled with facts and fodder to enrich those stories you write in your family history. Go browse this wonderful archive, but be careful, you could get lost for hours.

Ancestry - Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co, 1896-1999 - ($)

Sears - Sears Archives



I'd also like to share this year's Christmas present with you as it ties in with the Sears Catalog database. I gave myself thirty-five beautiful old magazines. (You'll remember I've often said, "I never met a magazine I didn't like, regardless of the century.") A little more than I would normally spend, but it is a treat that probably won't come around again. So, Merry Christmas to me!

They range in years from 1868 - 1931, and include names such as Harper's, Cosmopolitan, Munsey, Delineator, Boy's Life, Radio Digest and many more. I'm very excited to add these to my collection of photography and fashion magazines. Beautiful to look at, delightful to read.

And if you'd like to see the other uses I have for old magazines, read I Always Listen To Denise Olson on footnoteMaven.