|Antique Photographic Jewelry: Tokens of Affection and Regard |
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A sumptuous production simulating a gold engraved and encased volume of the daguerrean (1840-1865) period, this labor of love spares no cost to deliver a peerless collecting experience to those interested in the early history of photography and jewelry from the daguerrean period. This book details the early history of photography, the cultural needs of the times that photo–jewelry satisfied, clothing styles, and how important photo galleries such as Brady, Gurney, Southworth & Hawes, etc. produced and marketed photo–jewelry. Lavishly illustrated with many illustrations never before published from private and public collections.
300 photographs / 256 pages
A NEW BOOK SERVES AS THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO PHOTOGRAPHIC JEWELRY OF THE 19TH CENTURY
New York, NY - In the latter part of the 19th century, a growing middle class wanted to acquire, and wear, something even more marvelous than a painted miniature portrait-that is, a true likeness of a loved one.
Tokens of Affection and Regard is the first book to examine this phenomenon, the vogue for photographic portrait jewelry in the second half of the 19th century, spawned by Daguerre's invention of photography.
Certain to become the definitive reference book on the subject, Tokens was researched, written, and published by New York-based collectors Larry J. West and Patricia A. Abbott in collaboration with Grant Romer, director of The George Eastman House's Advanced Residency Program in Photography Conservation; Joan Severa, curator emeritus of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin; and jewelry expert Joyce Jonas.
Tokens provides a wealth of new information, much of it obtained from primary sources, about the many different kinds of photographic jewelry made for an American market no longer completely dominated by European taste and for a European market with its own traditions and preferences. An entire chapter is devoted to the photographic jewelry industry-its channels of distribution, pricing, retailing, and key practitioners.
Some 300 photographs, the vast majority published for the first time, bring to the fore brooches, pendants, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings, stickpins, watch lockets, watch fobs, watch keys, hair bands and buttons drawn from some 36 private and public collections in the United States, England, France, Germany, and The Netherlands.
Period advertisements, price lists, catalogue pages, invoices and hand-written receipts provide new information on one of the most competitive businesses of its day, as do many unpublished photographs of the photographers who dominated this market, from Mathew Brady and Jeremiah Gurney, to Southworth & Hawes and Whipple & Black.
Most often encased in gold, gold plate, brass, jet, or gutta-percha, the mounting of a photographic miniature depended on the budget of the buyer and/or the latest fashion of the day. There were thousands of different kinds, to the degree that today it is rare to see two photographic miniatures in the same finding. Tokens presents a wide array, including images of the most elaborate jewelry, adorned with pearls, precious stones, and rhinestones (often made in Europe). Materials are seen to evolve with time and technology: a rare later example in the book, from the turn of the last century, depicts a fashionable African-American lady whose hand-tinted image was applied to celluloid and encased in an inexpensive brass finding.
Tokens has been printed in a first edition of 1,500 copies with gilded, padded covers and gold-tipped end-sheets that resemble an engraved charm daguerreotype. Says West, "We wanted this book to resemble the jewelry it examines, which were highly personal items, shown off proudly in public, cherished in private, and regarded as a permanent record-which is what we hope this book will be as well." Adds Abbott, "Tokens will appeal to anyone interested in American history, photography, jewelry or the decorative arts. It embraces history, culture, tradition, love, birth, death, fashion, ideals of beauty, privacy in personal relations, and remembrance."
Advertisements, such as one for Fitzgibbon's gallery at Fourth and Market Streets in St. Louis, give the reader a picture of how photographers accommodated a range of pocketbooks. The proprietor writes: "I wish it distinctly understood that I take no picture less than THREE DOLLARS (sic), or higher than FORTY (sic)." Another side of the market can be surmised from a price list issued by Bartlett's Gallery in Boston, which advertises daguerreotypes beginning at 40 cents and lockets starting at $3.
One rare object examined in the book comes from the collection of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. It is a bracelet comprised of six golden lockets, each containing a tiny daguerreotype portrait of a prominent American. Among these personages are John Quincy Adams, John Adams, the naturalist and educator Louis Agassiz, and the physicist and educator Alexander D. Bache. Locks of their hair are encased in the reverse side (except for that of John Quincy Adam's, who had little left-a small lock of Daniel Webster's hair sufficed there.)
Most of the jewelry featured in Tokens, however, was made to capture the likeness of an ordinary person as a token of the affection between the giver and receiver. Portraits of beaus, husbands, children and parents were worn by women, and tiny pictures of sweethearts, wives, children and parents worn by men. The book even illustrates one group portrait mounted as a pin to consummate a business deal.
A good number of the daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, and paper prints in Tokens depict the subject wearing a photographic portrait, and so are double portraits of sorts. One of the most beautiful daguerreotypes in the book was made in the 1850s by the nation's premiere photography gallery, Southworth & Hawes and shows a young woman looking straightforwardly into the camera, wearing a fine lace head scarf and, at the neck of her black dress, a portrait of a man set in an oval pin.
One ingenious device seen in Tokens is the watch locket engineered with multiple photographs. A touching example is a gold watch locket created in about 1850, which features four daguerreotypes: one of a dark-skinned girl with ringlets, holding her baby sister; another girl with wonderful coiled pigtails; a middle-aged lady who is likely the mother; and a young boy. A bit like a Chinese puzzle, each portrait folds out from a different direction.
"This jewelry was created by daguerreotypists who were sometimes not only jewelers, but also portrait painters and calligraphers," Grant Romer notes. "These were men who thought of themselves as artists, and the special power of these objects make one realize that, indeed, what they created was more than jewelry, and more than photography."