All Dressed Up – Photographed in Costumes *new picture added 11/2007

In the 19th century it was usual for people to dress in their best clothes to visit the photographer although some people posed in their work clothes with tools of their trade. The latter photographs are unusual enough to have become a collectable category of portraits. Another exception are the people who are clearly dressed in costumes or fancy dress. Many of these may be in theatrical dress but some seem to be people who dressed in out-of-the-ordinary clothing for reasons of their own.

Stars and Stripes
The first row of images are three cabinet cards of girls in flag dresses. Card one by Swords Brothers of York, PA is marked Baby Sutton on the negative. The little girl wears a dress that appears to be made from actual American flags. The child on card two by Howard of Edwardsville, Illinois wears a dress made from a stylized flag print fabric. Her hat is decorated with small American flags. Card three by Maffery of Cresco, Iowa shows a girl in a dress decorated with wide stripes and large stars with American flags crossed at the shoulder. She wears a stars and stripes cap and sash. She is shown tickling the ear of another girl who appears to be sleeping in a rocker. The sleeping girl is wearing a lace shift over a long sleeved white dress. The cumbersome techniques of the day make it unlikely that the photograph was spontaneous but it has been staged to appear so.

Winged Creatures
The first card below from Austin, Texas features a child in a dark dress and tights with butterfly wings. Card two is a French theatrical cabinet card of a dancer with insect wings and antenna. The third image, a hand colored and glitter decorated real-photo postcard is also French. The wings and landscape appear to be multiple printed or collogued with the photograph.

The two images below are an example of the discovery that can come like an unexpected gift to a collector. We acquired the print on the left many years ago. It is a tinted illustration from a 1866 Gody's Ladies' Book of costumes showing a woman dressed as photography. Several years later we found the carte-de-viiste on the right at a Rochester, New York antique photographic show. The woman surely saw an illustration like this before making her costume. Below each image is a close up view of the camera hat.

*added 11/2007 Recently when I added a new photograph to the box of photographically related images I noticed the cabinet card below and remembered that I intended to add it to this page. The card by T.H. Lippiatt of Shamokin, Pa. is of two young women. The woman on the left has decorated her dress, hat, and fan with paper photographs while the woman on the right is dressed in a man's suit and derby. Why? Costume party or Halloween? Advertising for the photographer? We don't know but are enchanted by the image.

In the row below are a ferrotype and two cabinet cards. The young man in the ferrotype stands before a painted country landscape wearing a suite that looks like it was made with flowered chintz curtain fabric. That wasn't a fashion in the 19th century, was it? The young woman in the center cabinet card is a walking advertisement for W.R. Smith & Company by Merrill of Lexington, Illinois. Some of the items sold by the store decorate her costume; spoons, watches, jewelry, and what might be vials of perfume. The card on the right from Bristol, England shows a young woman in a Kimono with a fan.

Return to The Collection of Collections page

Collection of Collections Site Map

Contact us at

**NOTE** All items on the Collection of Collections web site are in our private collection and are NOT for sale. From time to time duplicate items from our collection will be offered for sale in the Do You Remember This? shop on the GoAntiques cyber mall. Visit the Do You Remember This? inventory page for photographica and toaster related collectibles.

Please feel free to write us if you want to chat or share information about areas we collect but we will NOT give appraisals.

© Bright Bytes Studio - Do not use images without permission

Updated on 11/2007