From Our Collection and Archives
In this space we feature our "gems" or recent additions to our collection. You might also find images or information related to our presenations or current discussion topics on the CW-reenactors Discussion Group, the Antietam Discussion Group, the Gettysburg Discussion Group, the Civil War Issues List, or H-Cosutume. Your opinions and additional comments are welcome.
Pertaining to a topic at the Gettysburg Discussion Group:

A View from the Seminary
For the gentlemen:
Here is a quarter-plate ruby glass ambrotype that we have just added to our collection (shown on the left). There is no provenance other than the image was encased in a brass keeper with an oval mat (ca 1860s). It was not in a case and the cover glass was slightly cracked. It was purchased in a Frederick, Maryland antique shop for $15 in early October.

Here are vignette enlargements of each starting with the gentleman at the top left (extreme case of hat hair). He is wearing a popular long bowtie/cravat that may be pre-tied. The man next to him has a vest with some sort of embroidered decorative pattern. He has a typical "soldier's beard" that was widely popular with civilans also. His tie may be pre-tied. The third gentleman at the lower left sports hair over his ears and combed back off his forehead. What we can see of the fourth gentleman's hair shows it swept forward. The last gentleman wears a low crown hat and has a long tie decorated with a small pin. It may be tied in the popular knot of the period requiring a button on collar.

For the Ladies:
    The following images are all CdV's which have been cropped to show only the women and their clothing. The first two images are of women who have gained the 'dignity of years'. They both are wearing glasses (sorry fine details are so hard to see on screen), a rare sight in period photographs. Both dresses appear to be of silk or other material with a high gloss finish with two variations on the very popular bishop sleeve.

   This first lady is wearing a fine lace cap set well back on her head, as opposed to a full cap with lappets and side frills usually associated with women a bit older than she appears to be. The only decoration on her dress is a row of non functional buttons. She is wearing a white collar with tiny scallop on the edge and very narrow white cuffs or undersleeves. Her only jewelry is an oval brooch which appears to contain a coil of hair, and a plain band on her left hand. She had this photograph taken in Boston, Massachussets. Based on the backmark we would date this photo to the early to middle years of the war. Her cap and the width of her collar make us think it was taken earlier than later during the war.

   The lady to the right is wearing a cap of fine spotted net mounted on what appears to be a band of closely looped ribbon. The net is much fuller than her hair. Her dress has a fan front bodice with a deep V neckline and chemisette fill. This style is far more typical of the 1850's than 1860's, but very likely she wore it when she was younger and she chose to keep wearing it. She has it trimmed in very delicate lace with tiny beads along the edge of the V opening and the very narrow double sleeve caps as well as at the top and bottom edges of the cuffs.
   She is wearing an oval brooch with a dark border and what appears to be a photo. With the dark border it is very likely a memorial brooch. She is also wearing elaborate drop earrings and a ring on her left hand.
   She had her photo taken in Charlestown, Mississippi sometime between late 1864 and 1866 as it has a revenue stamp. As CdVs were rarely ever taken in the South during the war years outside of Northern occupied cities, Southern backmarks from the war years are vanishingly rare. Because of that, it is likely this image was taken after the war was over. The beads and lace trim on her dress also fits this later time period.

    The next four CdV's are focused on the more unique sleeve variations that were being worn during the war years. The first three are wearing simple darted bodice dresses and the last one is wearing a gathered bodice

   The charming young lady to the left is wearing a very simple checked dress with slightly open sleeves trimmed with self fabric pleated ruching down the back seam and around the cuff. Her undersleeves are gathered at the wrist to create a narrow ruffle. The only other trim on her dress is a row of nonfunctional buttons and a very simple white collar. Her only jewelry is a matching set of drop earrings and a brooch shaped in a cross. The crosses are dark with what are probably gold caps on all ends. Her hair is very simply dressed and confined in a fairly coarse dark net. She had her image taken in San Francisco. Based on the backmark we would date this photo to the early to middle years of the war.

   The slightly older appearing woman to the left is wearing an interesting variation on a coat sleeve. The back edge of the sleeve's lengthwise seam was cut longer than the adjoining front edge. The extra fabric was loosely pleated near the elbow to match the shorter front length. The fullness at the top of the sleeve is controlled with another pleat at the shoulder, just behind the lengthwise seam. The only other trim is contrasting ribbon running the length of the sleeve seam and three rows of the same ribbon near the bottom of the skirt. She has a narrow white collar that comes a bit higher on her neck than the other dresses shown above. She also has very narrow white cuffs or undersleeves peeking out from the edge of her sleeves. Her only jewelry is a small round brooch.
   She is wearing her hair arranged low in the back and confined in a dark net, mounted on a band of what appears to be matte finished pleated ribbon, possibly velvet. This woman had her CdV taken in Norristown, Pennsylvania. The backmark indicates it was taken in the later years of the war, but before revenue stamps were required. The slightly higher neckline fits this time period.

   The ladies below are wearing two variations on one sleeve style. The most common variations of this style include one to three small puffs at the very top of the sleeve. A two puff variation is represented in the first picture below. The next image shows a variation with one large puff. We also have a CdV showing small puffs the entire length of the sleeve. Most variations included a fairly narrow lower sleeve, but a few had pagoda or bishop sleeves on the lower portion.

   This young lady is wearing what appears to be a ribbon belt fastened in the back. The only other dress trim is a row of what also appear to be velvet covered, non functional buttons. Her only jewelry is an oval brooch with what looks to be a slightly raised center. Her narrow white collar rises slightly higher on her neck, similar to the bishop sleeve photo above. Plain white cuffs are peeking out from the narrow lower sleeve. She has her hair dressed in long corkscrew curls. This in not a common hairstyle, probably due to the difficulty of creating and maintaining it in an orderly style.
   There is no backmark to date this photo or indicate where it was taken, but the higher collar indicates it was taken at least by the middle to later years of the war.

   This lovely lady on the right has chosen to emphasize the sleeves on her dress even more by having them cut on the bias in a patterned stripe fabric. She is wearing a narrow white collar with a tiny ruffled or scalloped edge and narrow cuffs to match. Her only other trim is a ribbon belt fastened in the back with contrasting edges. She is wearing fairly elaborate, round drop earrings and a moderate sized oval brooch with a plain boss edge. Her other article of jewelry is a waist watch chain with a small round fob and key. The watch is tucked into her belt.
   Her hair is dressed a bit higher in the back than some of the younger ladies on this page. It appears she has some kind of decoration at the very back, but there is no way of telling what it is. She had this photograph taken in Ithaca, New York. The backmark indicates it was probably taken during the mid to late war years.

Return to Curiosity Shop Home Page.

Any further questions or answers? Send us an e-mail message: gwjchris@earthlink.net

This page was updated 18 January 2006.