Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Alan’s Letters…A Sweet Little Book

Author Nancy E. Rial gave me a copy of her book, Alan’s Letters. I finally got a chance to look it over. It’s beautifully done. Nancy transcribed letters from her uncle Sgt. Alan Lowell and created a illustrated story of his World War II years. If you ever wondered what you could do with one of your family stories, take a look at Nancy’s book and the website for it. You’ll be inspired!

What’s the Oldest Photo in Your Collection?

A few weeks ago, the New England Historic Genealogical Society published the results to a family photo survey in their e-news. I immediately thought…so why didn’t I think of doing that type of survey? Well, thanks to Survey Monkey I can. Now I want to know a little bit more about your photo collection. Does it stop with your grandparents or go back into the age of the daguerreotype? You can take my five question survey by following this link.. Results will be tallied on November 17th.

Members of NEHGS had more photos of their great-grandparents than they did of their parents or grandparents. It was a slight advantage of four percentage points, but I was a bit surprised. After all, think about the number of amateur photographers in our families. Very interesting!

The Costume Votes are In!

Lots of folks watched my latest video on my Vimeo Channel. Not all of the costumes depicted were for Halloween. In fact many of them depicted theatrical performers but in other cases it just wasn’t clear why the person wore the outfit. So who’s responsible for Halloween dress-up? The roots of the tradition are centuries old. Masquerade balls, and fancy dress events were quite popular in the nineteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century Caledonian Clubs of Scottish immigrants frequently held Halloween events, but by searching newspapers I found an interesting tidbit.

At the turn of the twentieth century, four-year old Helen Weyand of Philadelphia made the news. She’s quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer telling her mother that she wanted an original Halloween party; one where her friends dressed as characters. Helen creatively dressed herself as the newspaper, with actual Philadelphia Inquirer mastheads wrapped around her body. There is little mention of her friend’s attire, except two. One dressed as a miniature George Washington and the other as the “Yellow Kid,” a comic strip character from a strip known as Hogan’s Alley. In the comic strip this character wore a yellow nightshirt. It’s even possible that little Helen was a trend-setter.

All right…drum roll please. I’m going to list the top three vote-getting outfits.
Coming in third was the 1868 man in costume.

The man is possibly an entertainer named, G.L. Fox. He’s dressed as Humpty Dumpty. The costume was for a pantomime act that opened at the Olympic Theater in New York on March 10, 1868 and ran for more than a year. This photo was taken by J. Gurney & Sons. Credit: Library of Congress.

Second place winner is 1900-1920 image of the woman with the dog.

Girl in a Pierrot costume

She’s a young girl dressed as a pierrot, a clown-like figure that dates back to the seventeenth century. You can spot this costume by the frilled collar, cone shaped hat and the large black pom-poms down the front. The dog is so cute! I think that’s why this image got so many votes…just about everyone mentioned the dog. Credit: The Library of Congress.

The winner by double the number of votes is the circa 1915 woman dressed like Humpty Dumpty, but don’t be fooled.

The Human Roly Poly Dancing Dolly

She’s actually known as “The Human Roly Poly Dancing Dolly.” She was a theatrical specialty act. One can just imagine her rolling around the stage. Credit: Library of Congress.

In my opinion, one of the oddest pictures in the video is the one with the person dressed as a tree dated 1939. It got several comments but no votes

This depicts the costume prize winners at the Washington, D.C. Arts Club’s Bal Boheme on April 10, 1939. Rhode Island Senator Theodore Francis Green presented the awards. According to the Library of Congress caption: left to right, Most Original was Richard Hill as the trees and shrubs of Paris, Most Amusing was given to Samuel Staples as a Paris Stevedore while Marcia Evert and Parr Hanna won the Most Beautiful prize.

Thank you for voting!!

Sorry… No September Newsletter.

Hey Everyone!

This past month has been so busy.  I apologize I have not had the opportunity to put together this month’s newsletter.  Thank you so much for following me and your continued support.  next Newsletter will be a great one!!

All the best,


Vintage vibe: Gallery shows ‘dags’ from artist on the rise

“Winter Flood” a 4.5 minute time exposure during a recent flood in the Squamscott River in Exeter, by Casey Waters. Courtesy of the artist
At Iocovozzi Fine Art, everything old really is new again.
The downtown Savannah art gallery, one of a handful of venues in the United States to showcase antique 19th-century daguerreotypes, is featuring 34 new “dags” by Casey Waters, a rising star in the photography world.
Gallery owner Kim Iocovozzi is especially excited to host the first exhibition of contemporary daguerreotypes in Savannah. Very few photographers in the United States work in this notoriously challenging photographic medium, which was originally developed by French chemist and artist Louis Daguerre in 1839.
“The daguerreotype process is easily the most complicated process in photography, then and now,” he said. “You have to understand chemical theory, light and exposure time.”
Waters, who started out as a daguerreotype conservator, has electrified the photography world at the age of 30 with his masterful approach to the original mercury method.
“Casey’s work has been recognized so quickly,” said Iocovozzi. “He has an amazing eye and makes these images look so easy.”
Everyday moments
Seen under bright light, the daguerreotypes shimmer and shine with an almost holographic intensity. Waters focuses his camera on a wide range of subjects he encounters near his hometown of Exeter, N.H., from urban graffiti to rugged coastal landscapes. He captures the fleeting majesty of waves rolling over jagged rocks and the deserted splendor of a water park in the off-season, turning everyday moments into visual poetry.
“Seeing them in person, you really get a feel for what a unique photographic process this is,” said Waters.
“Everyone shoots digital now, but I think it’s cool to produce one photograph at a time. It really makes me think about the process and appreciate each photo in its own right.”
The daguerreotypes, which measure 4-by-5 inches, reveal ethereal photographic images rendered in lustrous shades of silver and pewter, lending a retro feel to this decidedly contemporary work. Waters uses original brass daguerreotype mattes from the 1840s as well as hand-cut birch wood mattes, in a tribute to his home state of New Hampshire.
This retro-photographer enjoys working with antique equipment and mastering the original 19th-century live plate methodology. He buffs each plate and coats it with special chemicals that make the surface especially sensitive to light. Then he pays special attention to the exposure time, which can range from a few seconds to more than a half an hour, in order to ensure that the image has the proper balance.
“Controlling the light is what all daguerreotypists are after,” he said. “They historically worked in controlled conditions in a studio, but I like to take these images while I’m out walking or driving around.”
Waters excels at portraiture, landscapes and slices of life. In “One Love,” he immortalizes graffiti spray-painted on a wall in Exeter, N.H., while in “Where’s the Third Tugboat,” he captures the industrial splendor of two tugboats docked along a waterfront.
Unlike conventional photography, a daguerreotype doesn’t involve a negative. Instead, each image serves as a one-of-a-kind mirror-image reflection of the scene at hand, etched into shiny silver-coated copper plate.
“You get an amazing depth and clarity with daguerreotypes that you just can’t get with any other photographic process,” said Waters.
Waters admits that he’s attracted to the longevity of the images he creates, knowing full well that his compositions will outlive him.
“Antique daguerreotypes have lasted more than 160 years so far,” he said. “This work will last longer than any paper photographs. I hope they will leave a lasting impression.”

Casey Waters began collecting antique daguerreotypes when he was 7 years old.
An accomplished daguerreotype restoration expert, he studied photography under Rob McElroy and Mike Robinson and processes his daguerreotypes using the original mercury method of the mid-19th century.
Now 30, he lives and works in Exeter, N.H., where he enjoys documenting life in New England using this vintage photographic technique.

In addition to the exhibit of contemporary daguerreotypes, Iocovozzi Fine Art also offers a brush with old Hollywood.

With “Anne Power,” a collection of 26 paintings by Anne Lavenue Power Hardenbergh (1915-1999), the gallery celebrates the artistic achievements of the sister of legendary Hollywood actor Tyrone Power through the end of April.
“She wasn’t a Sunday painter,” gallery owner Kim Iocovozzi said. “She was an accomplished artist who painted throughout her life.”
The paintings on display, part of Power’s estate, are largely based in Florida, exploring landscapes, seascapes, fishermen and bits of local color in the Sarasota area she called home for many years.
“Her work is not overly complicated, but it’s wonderful,” Iocovozzi said. “It’s fun Florida stuff, which is really popular now.”
Posted: March 27, 2010
By Allison Hersh

Negatives Part 3: Safety Film

Cellulose acetate film and nitrate film share some patterns of deterioration, such as brittle quality, bubbles, chemical by-products and an odor.

Unlike nitrate, safety film is not a fire hazard.

There are several considerations when storing negatives. First is the environment. Negative deterioration is slowed when the material is stored at a constant temperature and humidity.

The second consideration is that negatives range in size.  Each size needs to be stored separately so that the weight is evenly distributed.

As with all photographic material, wear non-latex disposable examination gloves when handling the negatives.

Storage recommendations for negatives as well as Frequently Asked Questions can all be found in Preserving Your Family Photographs.  Or if you have questions, please feel free to email me at

Negatives Part 2: Film


According to James Reilly, in the IPI Storage Guide for Acetate Film (Rochester, NY:IPI, 1993), all film-based negative deterioration is dependent on exposure to high humidity and temperature. Once conditions are right for deterioration, chemical changes become cumulative and actually rapidly increase.

The characteristics of the deterioration vary depending on the type of negative. Of great concern are nitrate negatives that are not only fragile but also dangerous.

If you discover you have nitrate film, have the negatives copied at a reputable photo conservation lab in your area. Federal regulations imposed by the United States Department of Transportation restrict shipping
nitrate because it is considered a fire hazard. Once you have the copies, ask your local fire department how to dispose of the negatives. Most communities mention the disposal of nitrate in their fire codes.

Steps for identifying nitrate film and other useful information on handling such film can be found in Preserving Your Family Photographs.

Weekend at the Museum: Photographic Fictions

Tampering with Perfection

Photography was born pure.  In the beginning, there was the daguerreotype. Each daguerreotype was made individually in the camera. No negative was used. Since photography was so new, and seemed so miraculous, daguerreotypes were prized for their perfect accuracy in recording a scene or making a portrait. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes called photography “the mirror with a memory.” Why would anyone try to improve upon such perfection?


Negatives Part 1: Glass

The history of prints corresponds to the development and history of the negatives used to produce them. After prints, negatives make up a significant part of our family photograph collection. But how many people know about the negatives in their possession?

Glass Negatives

Photographers created their own supply of negatives in the 1850s by coating a piece of glass with a new substance, known as collodion. The light-sensitive silver halides in the collodion captured and preserved the image during the photographic process.

If you have glass negatives in your collection, they are probably sitting in a box that is too heavy to lift. Photographers used to store these plates in wooden storage boxes with dividers to protect the glass from breakage. Glass plate negatives, being both heavy and fragile, also require special storage care.

Steps to take when moving or re-boxong glass plates can be found in Preserving your Family Photographs.

    Weekend at the Museum: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918

    World War I claimed an estimated 16 million lives. The influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1918 killed an estimated 50 million people. One fifth of the world’s population was attacked by this deadly virus. Within months, it had killed more people than any other illness in recorded history. READ MORE HERE

    Documents and photos relating to this story can be found at the National Archives and Records Administration website.