Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Carte de Visite: Three English Gentlemen

Back in the late 1960s, as my grandmother fought her final battles with the cancer that would kill her, I realized that my knowledge of her family would go with her. The more I pestered her for stories, the more she kept saying that she didn’t know any. Finally one day I sat her down with her mother’s photo album and asked her to identify who the people were and what she knew about them. From there the stories flowed.

“That’s Mrs. Kelly who cooked for us. One time she came in to my mother and complained, ‘Mrs. Vandoler, Hyatt (my brother) spitted in the milk.’ ‘What did you do?’ ‘Why I just dipped it out. His spit is clean.’” She laughed and laughed remembering the story. So it went for a magical hour.

The pictures in that album became my link to the people I would research for the next ten years. But it was the people I didn’t find in the album who were equally fascinating. What stories, I wondered, might their pictures have told?

Perhaps that explains why I have developed one of my guilty pleasures over the last few years: collecting vintage photographs. Through antique stores and ebay, I have amassed a large collection of CDV, tintypes, and snapshots. One of my current focuses is the CDV (carte de viste) from the 1860s. I planning to write a novel centered in that time period and gradually people in the collection are being cast in the visuals I’m imaging for the novel.

Periodically, I will post some of my collection here on my blog.
[Sorry the pictures are branded, but I have had some people who have taken images of mine and then published them as their own.]

John Worsnop, Photographer
Bridge Street
Rothbury [England?]
Negatives kept. Copies always be had.

1 comment:

kathryn said...

Fabulous photos...but why does everyone look so annoyed during this period?

Frank (left) looks like he's wondering if it's 5 o'clock yet...Slim (right) is hoping his hair looks good and Marty (center) just spotted some dog peeing on the umbrella he left across the street.

I wish they had more to be happy about...