Montréal Girl

Carte de Visite. Photographer:  Notman & Sandham. Circa 1877 – 1882.

Price:  To be determined.        Size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 4″

William Notman (1826 – 1891)

Henry Sandham (1842 – 1910)

The Notman collection (about 650,000 photographic works) is, according to Marian Scott’s article in the Montreal Gazette,  “…the jewel in the crown of the McCord Museum,”  the McCord being located in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Though our carte-de-visite above does not show off the incredible clarity nor have the chance to exhibit any of the innovation that the Notman firm became known for, it’s still a lovely portrait of a beautiful young woman. She wears a Christian cross, possibly jeweled, on a rather large-link short chain; a high, white ruffled collar under a dark blouse or dress; and a bow tying back her dark hair, which is worn parted in the middle with short bangs.

Photo and paint….

We don’t necessarily think of painters (artists in oil, watercolor, etc.) in conjunction with photographic artists. Or, at least, I confess, I did not. Notman is said to have developed and made popular the composite photo, where individual studio portraits were taken, cut out, fastened onto the composite negative of a painted background (this is my understanding from piecing together a couple of online descriptions) and printed. Below, a well-known example entitled, “La culbute” (The bounce) of the Montréal Snowshoe Club. Notman & Son, 1886. Per author Sarah Parsons, William Notman:  Life & Work, the Notman firm offered oil paintings of all its photos. No wonder then, that Notman’s photography company had its own art department (which was for some years headed by Henry Sandham.)

Below, a couple of articles referencing Henry Sandham, from the Boston Herald, January 23rd and August 14th, 1881.

Last, but not least, another prominent Canadian, printer George-Édouard Desbarats (1838 – 1893) who was the founder of the lithography firm that did the reverse of our Montréal Girl cdv. The printing on the bottom left of the card shows  “Desbarats, lith., Montreal.”

Sources:  William Notman. n.d. (accessed February 26, 2017).

Henry Sandham. n.d. (accessed February 26, 2017).

Scott, Marian. “William Notman:  portrait of a visionary photographer at McCord Museum.”, November 4, 2016. Web accessed February 26, 2017.

Parsons, Sarah. (2014). William Notman:  Life & Work. (accessed February 26, 2017)

File: The Bounce, Montreal Snowshoe Club.jpg. n.d.,_Montreal_Snowshoe_Club.jpg. (accessed February 26, 2017).

The Sunday Herald. (Boston, MA). Sunday, January 23, 1881, p. 2. (

The Sunday Herald. (Boston, MA). Sunday, August 14, 1881, p. 12. (

Desbarats, George-Édouard. Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. XII (1891 – 1900). (accessed February 26, 2017).

To Miss Ida From Emma

Undivided back, used postcard. Postmarked June 6, 1907 from Unnaryd, Sweden. Stamped in Eureka, California post office on July 1, 1907.

Price:  $10.00

Wow, well this Swedish postcard (the last in our Ida L. Vance Collection unless we come across more) took almost a month to get to Northern California and be delivered to:   “Miss Ida Vance, Eureka Humboldt Co., Box 454. California U.S.A.”

The sender writes:   “Dear Miss Ida your[?] safe home. Give my love to all, Emma.”  Or, is that supposed to be “Dear Miss Ida Vance” ? Hard to tell from the writing. And did Emma return home to Sweden or was Ida her traveling companion who returned early to California, or was Emma’s comment meaning something like, “Here I am traveling all over and you’re safe and cozy at home” ? We could interpret Emma’s short note multiple ways, for sure.

“Motiv från Slottsskogen”  translates as “Scene from the Castle Forest.” Castle Forest is a large park (with lots to do and see) in central Gothenburg (Göteborg) Sweden on 137 hectares (about 338 acres.) It was established in 1874, on land that was once a private reserve for deer hunting.

“Imp. Joh. Ol. Andreens Konströrlag, Göteborg.”

Possibly Johannes Ol. [Olaf, Ole? etc.] Andreens Konströrlag is the publisher and/or printer of this postcard. The abbreviation “imp” is a mystery for the moment.

Source:  Slottsskogen. Göteborgarnas park sedan 1874. (accessed February 20, 2017).

Les Jardins, Hôtel St. George, Alger

Divided back, unused postcard. Publisher:  Cie Alsacienne des Arts Photoméchaniques. Strasbourg, France. Circa 1916 – 1920s.

Price:  $10.00

“Alger – Hotel St-George. Les Jardins – The garden’s”

A sepia-toned postcard from a photo of the gardens at the Saint George Hotel in Algiers, now of the El-Djazair hotels and resorts chain. Half-way around the world from our last post in the Boston, Mass. area but another absolute bit of heaven. The publisher for this one is a.k.a. CAP and according to Metropostcard, operated from 1916 – 1969.

Sources:  The Saint George Hotel, Algiers. (accessed February 20, 2017).

“Alsatian Photomechanical Arts Co. (CAP) (1916 – 1969)” A-publishers, page 1. (accessed February 20, 2017).

Arnold Arboretum Rhododendrons

Undivided back, used postcard. Postmarked March 15, 1909 from Fenway Station, Boston, MA. Publisher:  Boston Post-Card Co., 12 Pearl St. No. 770.

“Arnold Arboretum. Rhododendrons. Jamaica Plain, Mass.”

Price:  $5.00

It’s funny, one would not think of this postcard as “hand-colored” as is described on the back, but in looking for color, we do notice the blue-green tinge around the middle of the card. This is one of five that we’ve found that had all been sent to Miss Ida L. Vance of Eureka, CA. In noticing the postcard date, we see that the card was a little old already when it was mailed, since it’s a non-divided back. It was probably produced around 1906 or early 1907 before the postal rules changed. Miss Ida received at least three cards from this particular unknown sender, as we can see the handwriting was the same as in the two (of three) previously posted. (Did postcard collectors mail them to themselves ever? Seems like a good way to record dates and locations, so some probably did!)

A living tree museum on 281 acres and the National Register of Historic Places, just among other things….

Arnold Arboretum: a heavenly place to visit, hang out, and learn. Check out their website, and since we’re especially fond of history, here’s a direct link to their history page.

Just to put into context for our postcard era, here are two excerpts from a long article that appeared in the Davenport Daily Republican, (Davenport, IA) April 7, 1901. Reading the second portion gives us a little bit of a time-travel effect:  We’re now in the “future” (beyond, to be precise – over 100 years) that the writer was imagining!

Sources:  The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. (accessed February 20, 2017).

“Planting Trees In Living Museum.” Davenport Daily Republican. Sunday, April 7, 1901. Sunday. p. 11. (

To My Valentine, 1910

Divided back, embossed, used postcard. Postmarked February 10, 1910 from Los Angeles, California. Printed in Germany. Number 4129.

Price:  $3.00

A smiling cupid, with pale green gossamer wings, is knocking at the door, ready to deliver a valentine gift:  A garland of forget-me-nots which, at present, frame the doorway and drape over the large red heart. The sender wrote the year, 1910, on the front. On the reverse:

“Dear Ella, write me another one of your good letters. Dossie.”

Addressed to:   “Ella Ellison, Pueblo, Colo., 26 St. & Cheyenne Ave.”

Valentine To Ella From Alice

Divided back, embossed, unused postcard. Publisher:  Whitney Made, Worcester, Mass. Circa:  1910s – 1920s.

Price:  $1.00

“To My Valentine.”

Happy Valentine’s Day! This one’s in rough shape, for sure, but so cute though. Nice outfit (gaiters and tam o’shanter hat) on the little boy that’s sending the valentine postal to the little girl in the smaller top image. Note the climate difference.

Burton J. Holcombe, Photographer

Burton J. Holcombe, from our prior post, was born about November 1856 in New York, to James E. Holcombe and Emily J. Shutts. The paper trail is pretty long for Burton, who was a Detroit photographer from at least 1884 to about 1897, then worked as a traveling sales agent from about 1900 to 1904, returning to photography for a couple of years in Detroit before moving back to his home state of New York to continue in the business from about 1910 thru 1930. He married Sophie Orth in 1891, and they had a daughter, Doris. Burton and Sophie divorced in 1905. Photographers Charles E. Alford (Holcombe & Alford) and Edward J. Metzen (Holcombe & Metzen) paired up with Holcombe for short periods of time in the 1880s and 1890s. Below, per online records, a timeline:

1860 – Federal Census, Fowler, Saint Lawrence Co., NY. With parents and siblings Arabel and Edward. Father’s occupation:  merchant.

1870 – Federal Census, Gouverneur, Saint Lawrence Co., NY, with parents, siblings and others. Father is a lumber merchant.

1884 – Holcombe & Alford, 222 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI, boards Finney House. H.L. Holcombe is also listed as a photographer, boarding at Finney House.

1885 – Holcombe & Alford, 222 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Residence 444 7th, along with widowed mother, Emily J. Holcombe.

1887 – Burton J. Holcombe, 222 Woodward Ave. Residence 21 Sproat, with mother, Emily.

1888 – Burton J. Holcombe, 222 Woodward Ave. Boards 102 Miami.

1889 – Holcombe & Metzen, 222 Woodward Ave. Residence 102 Miami.

1890 – Holcombe & Metzen, 146 – 148 Woodward Ave. Residence 153 E. Elizabeth.

1891 – Burton J. Holcombe, 222 Woodward Ave. Residence 815 4th Ave., with mother, Emily. Edward Metzen is still down the street at 146 – 148 Woodward.

1895 – B. J. Holcombe & Co., 242 Woodward Ave. Boards at the Library Dining Rooms.

1896 – Burton J. Holcombe. Residence 46 E. Montcalm, Detroit.

1897 – Burton J. Holcombe. Residence 157 Myrtle, Detroit.

1898 – Burton J. Holcombe, moved to Chicago.

1900 to 1904 – Traveling “agent” i.e. salesman. Residence 990 Trumbell Ave., Detroit.

1908 to 1909 – Burton Holcombe, photographer. Residence 48 W. Adams.

1910  – Federal Census, Gloversville, Fulton Co., NY. Photographer, own gallery. Living with his sister and her family (Hiram J. and Harriet M. Anthony and children) and mother, Emily. Residence 15 West St.

1920 – Federal Census, Rochester, Monroe Co., NY. Photographer, own gallery. Boarding with the Smith family. Residence S. Clinton Ave.

1930 – Federal Census, Gloversville, Fulton Co., NY. Photographer. Lodger at 18 Littauer Place.

1931 – 18 Littauer Place. Gloversville, Fulton Co., NY. No occupation listed.


Sources:  Year: 1860; Census Place: Fowler, Saint Lawrence, New York; Roll: M653_853; Page: 648; Image: 117; Family History Library Film: 803853. (

Year: 1870; Census Place: Gouverneur, Saint Lawrence, New York; Roll: M593_1097; Page: 252B; Image: 252977; Family History Library Film: 552596. (

J. W. Weeks & Co.’s Detroit City Directories, 1884, p. 642; 1885, p. 596. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directories, 1887 p. 730; 1888 p. 702; 1889 p. 705; 1890 p. 600; 1891 p. 582; 1895 p. 698; 1896 p. 721; 1897 p. 727; 1898 p. 751; 1900 p. 795; 1901 p. 814; 1903 p. 1162; 1904 p. 1361; 1908 p. 3130. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

Marriage Records. Michigan Marriages. FamilySearch, Salt Lake City, UT. Michigan, County Marriages, 1822-1940. (

Year: 1900; Census Place: Detroit Ward 8, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: 750; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 0087; FHL microfilm: 1240750. (

Michigan. Divorce records. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing, Michigan. (

R. L. Polk’s Michigan State Gazetteer & Business Directory, 1909-1910. p. 615.

“United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 February 2017), Burton J Holcombe in household of Hiram J Anthony, Gloversville Ward 4, Fulton, New York, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 18, sheet 2A, family 42, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 948; FHL microfilm 1,374,961.

“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 February 2017), Burton J Holcomb in household of Frank W Smith, Rochester Ward 4, Monroe, New York, United States; citing ED 60, sheet 4B, line 71, family 83, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1120; FHL microfilm 1,821,120.

Year: 1930; Census Place: Gloversville, Fulton, New York; Roll: 1439; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0014; Image: 819.0; FHL microfilm: 2341174. (

H. A. Manning Company’s Gloversville and Johnstown Directory, 1931. p. 168. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

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.

I Say Hello George

Divided back, used, Real Photo Postcard. Postmarked February 3, 1908 from Chicago, Illinois.

Price:  $12.00

This card has been hanging around:  I’ve been meaning to get it posted forever but by a nice coincidence, the date it’s going up here at LCG is the exact date on the outgoing Chicago postmark, plus 109 years.

Pretty Elsie, who provided her photo to cousin George, was not identified in records. An in-depth search would be needed to trace the cousinship. (Is this a word? Yep!) She writes:

“I say ‘Hello’ George do you know you[r] loving cousin, How are you old chap, I thought perhaps you might want you[r] little cousins picture, what do you think of my boys coat, classy ‘heh!’ Love to all the family, and also you[r] cousin in Dubuque the one I like. I am with love Elsie.”

Funny how Elsie drops the “r” in “yours” each time, and don’t we get a sense of who she was, from her handwriting, the note itself and the photo? I think she was fun to hang out with. As far as history and fashion it’s always nice to have a dated reference but it’s doubly nice to have the wearer’s comment about what they were wearing. And not that it, by any means, took 109 years for the bow to go out of style, but we can appreciate the irony in the coat being the main subject for comment while today it’s the hat with the huge bow that jumps out at us!

Card addressed to:  “Mr. George Letch, Jr., East Dubuque, Ills.”

Our girl Else, wasn’t found in records but George Leroy Letch, Jr., was born September 19, 1887 in East Dubuque, IL, son of George L. Letch and Theresa Erdenberg. The 1910 Federal Census for Dunleith Township of East Dubuque finds George, Jr. with parents, George L., born IL, October 1864 (occupation freight train conductor) and Teresa, born IL, April 1867 and George, Jr.’s sister Roena, born IL, August 1889.

Sources:  Year: 1910; Census Place: Dunleith, Jo Daviess, Illinois; Roll: T624_294; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0021; FHL microfilm: 1374307.

Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007. (