Tuesday, May 02, 2006

long lost relatives

I worked for a number of years as a picture framer. Often people will buy frames from a garage sale, then they will bring them into the frame shop and pay for mats, glass and fitting, so they don't have to buy a brand new frame. Usually these old frames are extremely crappy, the corners are hanging on for dear life by loose rusty nails, the wood is stinky and rotten, little bugs are crawling out from under acid-stained cardboard... and the customer is beaming with enthusiasm over how much money she saved.

One woman came in with her garage sale treasures, two frames, each had one of these photos inside. I asked if she wanted to keep the photos, "No..." she replied condescendingly, "I bought these at a garage sale! I only want the frames!"

Something felt wrong about tossing someone's old relatives in the trash, and I thought they were kind of cool anyway, so I kept them. I thought they should at least have the dignity of maybe someday ending up on the wall of a Cracker Barrel somewhere...

I'm sure they must have been lovely people, especially the woman, what do you suppose she's thinking there? She has gigantic sleeves. I've never seen a dress quite like that, it's almost kimono-like.

18 comments:

Seeker said...

That IS a fancy dress. Most dresses of that era were dark colored, not light and full of flowers. I'm sure it was for a very special occasion.
They look quite young.

Jenn said...

Seeker, that is interesting. Can you tell approximately what year this is?

Meow said...

What interesting photos. Wouldn't it be amazing if someone from their family were to read your blog and recognise them ... that would be too cool !!
Take care, Meow

Jenn said...

Meow, true, strange things like that have happened before.

EmmaSometimes said...

OHHH, go to DeadFred.com and list them if you want to get them back to the owners (who do pay for them). If there are names on the back I bet you I could find out who they are...I do it here locally all the time just recouping my cost for pics.

Those pics are tintype photos(1856 to 1940s).

Michelle said...

The male intrigues me for some reason, can't pin point it.

Jenn said...

Emma sometimes, interesting, I suppose I could just list them under the city where I got them, because there are no names on the back.

Michelle, maybe he seems like a romantic type... or maybe a bit like an evil character I've seen in a movie.

uncle joe said...

I'm gonna venture a guess as to their employment....

The man who to me looks a bit like Edgar Allen Poe was a baker or owned an Italian Restaurant.

The woman who has extraordanarily large hands can't wait to get out of this dress? and get back to the hayfield.

Ted said...

Do you know why they never smile? The film speed was so slow and so expensive that the photographer was only concerned with their eyes being open. They had to hold very still and i bet they just wanted to get it over with.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Looks like you have two excellent old fashioned platinum prints. To afford photos like that, they would've had a lot of money. Additionally, her clothes would have been quite expensive: they're very unusual. And good quality lace was expensive, and she has it in abundance. Additionally, the material would have been very expensive and frivolous, not an every day dress.

The man would've been considered very handsome in his day. Neither is smiling (as is common for old pictures) for two reasons: they had to hold still for a long time while the photo developed on the plate, and they probably were missing some teeth (dentists weren't around back then).

Saur♥Kraut said...

Yeesh, how many times could I use the word "expensive"? I'm not very creative this morning.

Jenn said...

You all are very insightful. I hadn't thought about them missing teeth.

Badoozie said...

i think it is extremely weird when people sell picture frames with their family members in it. its sick and wrong.

as for what that woman is thinking......hmm....she is thinking "this photo guy is so creepy, if he comes any closer to me, i will strangle him with my sleeve!!"

Seeker said...

If I were to guess, I'd say 1880 give or take 10 years.
Anybody else have an idea?

Jenn said...

Susie, I agree, I think it is weird, extremely weird. And I think you are probably exactly right about that woman's thoughts.

Seeker, sounds like a good guess to me.

Aunt Jo said...

I like your sleeves. They're real big. (That is what the photographer is thinking....I think his name was Napoleon??)

She is thinking: I wonder if I turned off the oven?

Jenn said...

hahaha good one Aunt Josephina... these are the "glamour shots" of their day.

Leslee said...

I love old pictures! I use to work for a little clothing store down town where I grew up. The buildings had very very tall ceilings. Some store had paid to have them lowered to the normal 8-10 feet, but the store I worked at kept the 20+ foot ceiling. The owner filled the space with lots of old pictures in really cool frames. She only knew who one picture was and that was her grandmother. It always gave me such a peaceful feeling being in there.