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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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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.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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