August 12, 2011

A true gem of a Victorian daguerreotype photograph

Day 224 of Vintage 365


It should come as no surprise to anyone who is a regular reader of this blog that I am a massive fan of old photos; I cherish them, be they of my own relatives or complete strangers.

I think every photograph deserves to be preserved, and adore the fact that, in its own very small way, Chronically Vintage is able to help a small group of yesteryear images live on, and be appreciated in the present, through the wonders of the internet.

Though, I rarely delve into topics - or share images - that predate the 1920s here, from time-to-time in my joyfully fun romp through the scores of old photos on Flicr, I chance upon an image that is simply to interesting, beautiful or otherwise worthwhile to keep myself.

Daguerreotypes are amongst my most favourite of antique photographs, and this 19th century image, which features a seemingly ordinary, yet somehow incredibly special couple truly caught my eye.

I'd venture to guess that the person who posted this picture (Flickr user lisby1, who's superb stream is an absolute must for fans of old school photos) may have retouched it ever-so-slightly (I could be wrong, but the the clarity of the pair's faces leads me to think so; not of course, that there's anything wrong with skilfully retouching an aging photo to help bring it back to its former glory).


I look at this young couple, their names sadly long lost in the files of history and see a thousand faces I've known. There's a similarity to both of them that's so real and endearing. Swap their (beautiful) Victorian duds for present day ones, let her hair down, and perhaps give his a quick trim, and you could have any number of youthful couples today.

This pair, whom I've lovingly dubbed Matthew and Eleanor (not for any particular reason, those two were merely the first names that popped to mind when I saw this photo), could have come from just about anywhere, held any station in life, had a large family or been childless. It's even possible that this photo was taken on their wedding day (not all Victorian era couples posed in what we'd call "traditional wedding garb" on their special day, especially if they were having their photo taken before or after the ceremony).

Perhaps they had this image snapped to send to a relative out-of-state or even in another country. Maybe they wanted to preserve what they looked like in their youth for their own children to look one day.

Sadly, as with so very many images of the past, we do not know why (or precisely when) this photograph was taken, yet, importantly, it was, and so even if the names of these two strikingly lovely people are long forgotten, a vital element - their image - of who the were is still preserved.

It is this fact, amongst others, that draws me to old photos, causes me to create backstories for them in my mind, makes me wish I could collect and house a million similar images under my own roof.

I know that many of you share in this passion of, and respect for, old photographs, and thus, when I saw "Matthew and Eleanor", I knew you'd appreciate why I simply had to share my favourite (online) antique photo find so far of the month with all of you.


  1. You're right, I'm sure I've met that chap several times before! :)

  2. The guy on the left is such a hypster. :)

  3. I too love to preserve photos. In fact, I am always behind the camera instead of in front. Love these old photos. I recently purchased two old photos of kids at a yard sale. I plan to hang them in my house.

  4. This is a such a great image. At first glance I thought it was one of those ole-timey re-creation style photos.

    I've got a small collection of vintage photos myself (I've put a couple of them up on my blog), but the ones I have are all Indian, and the poses are so-straight faced that they never look so contemporary.