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Great Expectations: 1890

Great Expectations: 1890

From Marquette, Mich., comes this glass plate dated 1890 and labeled "Peterson." Say, I'll bet you kids have never been on the Internet before! View full size.


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What color was it?

I can't stop looking at that dress! It's like no other wedding dress from 1890 that I've seen, no ruffles, almost no lace. I love the natural waist. It looks like she may not be corseted. It has several things in common with bridal gowns of 70 years in the future. She actually looks much more comfortable than most formally dressed women on this period. I'd love to have a pattern for it!

Things take time

Portraits took a long time because of slow emulsion speed. People had looks that they could keep for seconds, if not minutes, at a time to keep from blurring the photo.

[Sitting still for minutes was a relic of the shutterless cameras of the daguerreotype and wet-plate era. Dry-plate exposure time for an 1880s-1890s studio portrait like this one would be a fraction of a second. - Dave]

Beautiful bride

She is a beautiful young woman, and the dress is to die for. But, even though the practice was not to smile, her eyes are so sad.

Posing for pics

From 1892, my maternal grandparents' wedding photo, likewise in the photographer's studio - here San Francisco. You didn't smile for formal portraits; the goal was to look dignified.

We do

I see two blond, blue-eyed young people, possibly Scandinavian, possibly recent immigrants to the Midwest, no nonsense, used to hard work, maybe feeling just a tad uncomfortable in these fancy clothes on this very special day.

[This being in the photographer's studio, it's probably not their wedding day. - Dave]

No smile?

No, marriage is a very serious thing! Odd though how the faces look like people who just might be capable of amazing silliness and mischief. I can just imagine these two in an up-to-no-good mood. Or it that just me?

I Do

But she looks like she don't.

Happy Togeeeether!

Aren't you supposed to be happy when you marry?

Looks like they've been eating grapes of the sour kind.

[Dave, quite right. I do believe that most photographers of that period maybe asked them not to smile. Although the Husband to be has a slight smirk - baxado]

It's all in the look.

Excited, aren't they!

Not exactly

a picture of joy, are they? Though, by this time, people should be getting used to have their portraits taken.

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