Antique Cabinet Card of Portrait - Ford & Humphrey, Kalamazoo, MI Photographers
  • I recently acquired a group of 2nd generation photographic images. These are photos taken of something like a portrait. The portrait is the first generation image and the photo is the second generation of that image. I’m not an expert on antique photographs but I love the idea of a portrait being so important to a descendent that the family decided to have a photograph taken to share with other family members. We know that sometimes silhouettists were asked to cut multiple figures and sometimes portraitists painted second portraits for family members.

    The current group are all cabinet cards. Carte de viste (1859-1889) was the first type of photograph made from a negative, which allowed multiple photos to be printed from one sitting. The photograph was printed on thin paper which was then glued to thicker paper or card. Cabinet cards (1866-1903) are basically the same as carte de viste, usually glued to larger card, sometimes with the photographer’s trade information below the glued photo and/or on the reverse. Around 1880, the cardboard mount for cabinet cards started having beveled edges, sometimes with a gold or silver color in the bevel.

    This is a wonderful 2nd generation image of a folky portrait miniature. The young gentleman has curly hair with mutton-chop side burns. He wears a double breasted coat over a white waistcoat (possibly embroidered), a ruffled-front shirt with a white stock, tied in the back and high white shirt collar. You can see how the artist who painted the portrait miniature used cross-hatching for the darkness of the right side background. The painting technique leads me to believe that the portrait was painted on ivory. The man has big, wide eyes. His mouth is small in comparison to his eyes and his ear seems a bit too low. These characteristics are what I love about folk art. The cabinet card bears the studio stamps of “Ford & Humphrey/119 So. Burdick St./Kalamazoo, Mich./All On The Ground Floor.” The studio stamp also includes, “Bromide Portraits a Specialty.” The studio stamp on the lower front of the card is “Ford and Humpfrey/ Opp. Post Office/Kalamazoo, Mich.” The reverse also has a pen inscription in black ink “William Rutherford Esq. Photograph copied from his miniature - Thomas Savage. abt 1824 Given to Jane C. Cole Oct 1st 1909.” I am told that the Savage and Rutherford families were prominent in clerical and artistic circles throughout the 19th century and the Cole family was also related. 4.25”x6.5”. Minor wear, some soil and a few stains on the left side of the oval (I didn't notice the stains until looking at the photo so you know they are minor). This one is a real prize!

    6796    $55