That Faraway Look, Detroit, 1894 or ’95

Cabinet Card, 1894 – 1895. Photography by Burton J. Holcombe & Co.

Price:  $6.00       Size:  4 and 1/4 x 6 and 1/2″

The above photo of the beautiful woman with the faraway gaze looks over-exposed or faded, but to me, this enhances the dreamy quality. I think it’s true that the more you study a photo, the more it comes to life for you. Was the photographer experimenting with different poses?…the glimpse of the gloved hand, index finger slightly pointing…for depth, a little mystery perhaps, even some subtle humor….“Get on the right track, at Nine Mile and Mack…”  keeps coming to mind – I know, different era, but still!

Here’s our Photoshop version below, to try to put ourselves in the photographer’s place…maybe better to have her left hand appearing somewhere, since we get the fact that her right holds….no, wait…that’s maybe not the muff (to match the fur jacket) that she’s holding but a prop she’s just standing next to that was then touched up? Though from afar the impression is of someone carrying something, about to go on a short journey.

And yes, it’s obvious the card’s in somewhat rough shape, but after you time travel back to that point it’s funny how you really don’t regard the condition. Though we have no i.d. for the woman, we, thankfully, have half a name for the photography studio, along with the address and from this we discover that the bottom of the card read as:  B. J. Holcombe & Co.   212 Woodward ave., Detroit.

B. J. was Burton J. Holcombe. The 1894 and 1895 Detroit city directories show the same address as the one on the card. Multiple directories show that Burton Holcombe had moved frequently, and more detailed information about him will be found in the next post.

Sources:  R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1894. p. 673. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1895. p. 698. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

A Nice Gentleman, Chicago 1891

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Sometimes we get lucky with names, sometimes not:  Here’s a beautiful Cabinet Card portrait of a kind-looking older gentleman, maybe in his seventies or eighties. The writing on the bottom says (insert your best guess here on the name)  “D. A. Tibbles. 1891.”  So, Ancestry, Find A Grave and city directories were searched but we couldn’t find anyone under the possible last name of Tibbles or variations to fit his initials (and alternates) and time-frame.

The photo was taken by the Hartley (Edward F.) Studio, located at 309 W. Madison St. in Chicago. We’ll look into E. F. Hartley in the next post.

Cabinet Card photo. 1891. Photo studio: Edward F. Hartley, Chicago, Illinois.

Price:  $10.00    Size:  4 and 1/4 x 6 and 1/2″

Colby & Wilson Cabinet Card, Meredith, NH

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Cabinet Card photo of a little boy, (love the expression) about three years old, posed standing with hands in pockets, dressed in a long wool-looking coat with contrasting darker-colored cuffs and collar, the collar buttoned snug at the neck, and a winter hat with tassel. Someone, at some point, took the liberty of filling in the eyebrows and darkening the eyes a little.

It’s more probable than not that the little boy in this photo is the son of Fred Canney, according to the writing on the back which shows,  “Mrs. Fred Canney. Meredith, N.H.”  If this is correct, then it’s possible that this is a photo of Wilfred A. Canney, born about 1883; son of Fred Canney and Annie Martin. Wilfred married Alice B. Cummings on December 1, 1908 in Meredith, NH.

The photography studio of Colby & Wilson is more of a mystery. Nothing was found in online searches other than an image of the reverse side of one of their cabinet cards, currently appearing on Pinterest, though there are several possibilities showing up for individual photographers in other New Hampshire cities.

Cabinet Card, Meredith, New Hampshire. Circa 1886.

Price:  $7.00       Size:  4 and 1/8 x 6 and 3/8″

Source:  “New Hampshire Marriage Records, 1637-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 5 December 2015), Fred J. Canney in entry for Wilfred A. Canney and Alice B. Cummings, 01 Dec 1908; citing Meredith, , New Hampshire, Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord; FHL microfilm 2,057,690.

Minneapolis Beauty By A. Larson

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This Cabinet Card shows a photo of a very poised and lovely young woman, probably a resident of Minneapolis, though we couldn’t know for sure. What immediately draws our attention is the large round brooch fastened at the collar. This is “an image within an image” kind of thing (love that) and it shows what appears to be a painting on porcelain of a young girl wearing a bonnet. The piece is bordered with a row of, I believe the term is “brilliants” or what we might call rhinestones, today. It would have been a favorite piece of jewelry, no doubt, and deservedly so. A row of interesting-looking metal buttons runs down the front of the woman’s close-fitted jacket or bodice of the dress (if this was a one-piece outfit.) White lace shows from underneath the stand-up collar; the collar’s points being just slightly turned down near the brooch. Her hair is side-parted and swept up with a little height at the back, adding an extra touch of elegance.

The photographer is Anton Larson, whose career will be explored a little more in the following post, but he worked out of the 313 Washington Avenue South address starting around 1884, according to city directories, and through at least 1905.

Cabinet Card. Circa 1884 – 1905. Photographer:  Anton Larson, 313 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Price:  $15.00     Size:  4 and 3/16 x 6 and 7/16″.

Myrtle Olson, San Francisco, Circa 1897

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Here’s a Cabinet Card of adorable Myrtle Olson, about seven or eight years old, posed for the photo wearing a plaid dress with long sleeves which are puffed from elbow to shoulder, a white collar and button-top boots.

Myrtle appears to be the daughter of Andrew P. Olson and Lina (Mayrisch) Olson, and is on the 1900 Federal Census, for San Francisco, with her mother (widowed) and older siblings, Bertha, Andrew and Emily.

The photo artist…

The studio address on the back shows 17 1/2 Treat Ave, the name being a little hard to read there; the first guess at it was …?…J. Van der Kaali [?] & Co. But luckily the photographer was found in the 1897 San Francisco city directory with a residence address of 17 Treat Ave, and with name clarified as William Vanderkay. Further verification (with middle initial and double “a” in Kaay, matching the stamp on the card) appears in the 1901 city directory for William J. van der Kaay, showing an address of 629 Union. Both directories list his occupation as photographer.

Cabinet Card, Circa 1897. Photographer:  William J. Van Der Kaay & Co. 

Availability Status:  SOLD.     Size:  4 and 1/4 x 6 and 1/4.”

Sources:  Year: 1900; Census Place: San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Roll: 107; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 0292; FHL microfilm: 1240107.

“Lina Olsen.” California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1895-1985

Crocker-Langley San Francisco Directory, 1897. p. 1712. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989.

Crocker-Langley San Francisco Directory, 1901. p.1796. U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989.

Frederick Russell Pope

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Cabinet Card showing a beautiful photo of young Frederick Russell Pope, estimated age about four years old, taken by the Duryea photography studio, Brooklyn, New York. Russell was born May 25, 1892, in Brooklyn, according to his passport application made twenty-three years later. He is dressed and with hairstyle in the mode of the day, when it was common for young boys to be outfitted in what we today would just think of as girls’ clothing, and with longer haircut, shoulder length in this photo. The outfit is a plaid, pleated skirt; white blouse with scalloped lace edging, a ruffled collar and cuffs that turn up as far as the elbow; and a large light-colored plaid ruffled bow at the neck.

Here is Russell’s photo from his passport application:  a handsome young man at age 25. The passport shows his residence as 412 Avenue C, Brooklyn; that he was applying for the passport to travel to Germany and Switzerland, to reside abroad temporarily for about a year; and that his occupation was “Student & Teacher.”

Frederick R Pope Passport App Photo

Russell’s parents are William Pope and Annie Long, both born in England. He married M. Irene Decker, and he died July 16, 1940 in Greensboro, North Carolina, at age 48 (always sad to see the death certificates of people we feel we just got to know slightly through their photos, especially when the person dies young or relatively young.) The death cert shows he was a teacher, and residing at Guilford College, NC.

The 1930 Federal Census for White Plains, NY shows Russell, wife Irene and their three daughters, Ethel, Virginia and Joyce. Russell’s occupation on this census is Professor at “New York University” which may not have been the actual university name.

As to the photographer, there is more than one possibility for this last name in Brooklyn. We’ll do more research and update here asap.

Cabinet Card, circa 1896. Photographer:  Duryea, Brooklyn, New York.

Price:  $20.00

Sources:  National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington D.C.; NARA Series: Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925; Roll #: 277; Volume #: Roll 0277 – Certificates: 11501-11900, 20 Nov 1915-30 Nov 1915 (

North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina. (

Year: 1930; Census Place: White Plains, Westchester, New York; Roll: 1666; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0370; Image: 408.0; FHL microfilm: 2341400

Family Portrait By J. R. Johnson

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The fourth of four Cabinet Cards found in the small Soquel, CA antique and vintage shop, and it’s possible they may have come from the same family, but unknown. There is no photographer printing or stamp on the front or back but there is a name on the back, (above the unfortunate tear) possibly a signature which shows  “J. R. Johnson.”  I think this may be the photographer’s name rather than the name of the father or son in the photo, or person it was given to. The odds are stacked against for this one in finding i.d. – common last name, first initials only, no location. But it’s a wonderful photo, even though the faces of the three, especially the mom and son, are very light. The photo shows a young couple, and their probably five or six-year old son. The man is seated on a wooden chair with his around around his son, the woman standing with her hand on her husband’s shoulder, and the boy standing next to his dad with his hand resting on the dad’s crossed leg:  a typical family pose of the day. Some interesting details to pick out in this photo are the woman’s rather tight-fitting gloves; the fact that she holds probably a white handkerchief in her left hand which seems a little out of keeping with her black or dark very stylish dress; the boy’s woolen sailor suit (wonderful sailor design stitching) with cap, high button boots and his toy rifle (or possibly a real one or maybe just the photographer’s prop); the man’s jacket and vest in subtle plaid and his bow tie of a different plaid material…. And it looks like this photo was taken outdoors in front of a photographer’s backdrop of a city park. But all in all, a beautiful family photo.

Cabinet Card, circa 1880s – 1890s. Possible photographer:  J. R. Johnson. Possible location California.

Price:  $6.00

Modesto Siblings By Hanson

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This Cabinet Card was likely done by Frank H. Hanson who is mentioned in the same book about Modesto that was just referenced two posts ago (re fellow photographer William Brown.)  And this is the third of four that were found together in Soquel, CA. The little girl in the last post almost looks like she could be the sister of these two, but we don’t know for sure, since there are no names on any of the four. This photo shows a child maybe one year old? a boy or girl (so hard to tell at this age since the boys were also dressed in beautiful cotton or linen gowns like this one) and the older brother in short pants, double-breasted jacket and pale striped shirt with just the large ruffled collar showing. The older child wears a round brooch of some sort on his jacket lapel. This decoration is intriguing since even up close we can’t see what design it holds, but we can picture the mother getting the children ready at home, pinning the brooch on the lapel….The younger child is seated on a wooden chair of bamboo? on a tasseled coverlet or rug. The photo composition is interesting:  both children are gazing into the camera, but especially interesting is the similar arm and feet placement – the similar stance of the older child to the “stance” of the chair – left legs slightly forward and standing on the prominent fur rug, and rights back slightly and just off the rug. It’s seems like when we notice these types of things, as touched on above re the brooch, it really makes us feel transported back in time, in this case to this Modesto studio in year 1890-something or so. We have insight into the photographer’s thought process and suddenly we are there…we picture him lining up the shot….

At the bottom right under the photo is the photographer’s stamp in red showing  “Hanson  Modesto, Cal.”  On several of the California Voter Registration records for years 1892 – 1898, Frank Henry Hanson is recorded as occupation photographer, born in Michigan 1868 -1870, residence E. Modesto, and is described as 5′ 8 and 1/2″, light complexion, brown eyes and light hair. (Two of three records say brown eyes, the other gray.)

Cabinet Card, circa 1892 – 1898. Photographer:  Frank Henry Hanson.

Price:  $15.00

Sources:  Mathes, Wayne A., and the McHenry Museum. Modesto. Charleston, South Carolina:  Arcadia Publishing, 2011. ( partial book view)

California State Library, California History Section; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4 – 2A; CSL Roll Number: 134; FHL Roll Number: 978590. (

Little Cutie

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Second of four Cabinet Cards that were found together, and that may or may not be related. No identifying information on this one for the adorable little girl or the photographer. But she is posed standing on a chair that has a fringed rug or coverlet draped over it. She must be blonde and have light blue (or green) eyes. She wears a cute pale gingham dress with a set of ruffles for a collar out of the same material. And it looks like there is also a ribbon worn above the collar with a bow off to the side. On the collar is a pin that says “Baby.” (Awww!) Best of all, besides that beautiful expression, is the spiked hairdo – very in style now in 2014.

Cabinet Card, circa 1880 – 1900.

Price:  $8.00

Modesto, California Gentleman

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This Cabinet Card and the next three were found together, at a small antique and vintage store in Soquel, California. It’s possible but unknown for sure whether the people in these four photos are related. This one is a sepia-toned rendition of a handsome mustachioed gentleman who appears to be in his twenties or early thirties. He is formally posed with one hand behind his back, holding his derby hat (a.k.a. bowler in the U.K.) in the other, and gazing off to his right. He wears a suit with vest and a knee-length coat with wide lapels, over a white shirt and a white or off-white probably silk tie. The backdrop is a country setting showing the dreamy outline of trees and bushes and a suggestion of a stone pathway abutting a low stone or concrete railing. Also, just to mention a couple of the other details in the photo – we see, of course, the subject’s watch chain on display as part of his attire, but what takes closer inspection is the shirt cuff appearing under the coat sleeve. The cuff appears to be of the stiff and possibly detachable variety. (For a shirt cuff-related trade card see an earlier post on this website entitled:  B. J. Stone Trade Card, New Haven, CT

Underneath the photo in gold-tone script appears,  “Brown, Photographer,”  and off to the right, in smaller lettering,  “Modesto, Cal.”

The photographic artist for this photo is believed to be William Brown (1838 – 1893) who was a prominent Modesto photographer. No other possibilities jump out at us in our searches in this area for a photographer under this last name and for the time period of roughly 1870 – 1900, when the Cabinet Card was popular. According to author Wayne A. Mathes and the McHenry Museum, William Brown had a photographic gallery as early as 1871, which is the date given for a shop that he established on Front Street, a.k.a. Ninth Street, in Modesto.

Cabinet Card, circa 1871 – 1880s. Photographer:  William Brown.

Price:  $15.00

Sources:  Year: 1880; Census Place: Modesto, Stanislaus, California; Roll: 84; Family History Film: 1254084; Page: 333C; Enumeration District: 094; Image: 0669. (

Mathes, Wayne A., and the McHenry Museum. Modesto. Charleston, South Carolina:  Arcadia Publishing, 2011. ( partial book view)