Lanky family

By: usermattw

Apr 04 2013

Tags: ,

Category: Families


Click here to view it larger.

What it is:

Cabinet card measuring 4.24 x 6.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Nothing!  Undated and unidentified.


I was amused by the way they all have matching body types, long and lean, or at least matching posture.  I suspect the woman’s eyes have been touched up with pupils, though considering the overall damage, it may just be stray marks that coincidentally landed on her eyes.  I’m having a hard time dating this.  The barren setting is one I’m used to seeing in studio portraits from closer to the middle of the 1800s, though I think of the cabinet card format as coming later.  Perhaps somebody with better knowledge of the clothing can offer an opinion.  In any case, it’s an interesting group.  Even though they are a family unit, and are standing there without particular expression, they still manage to convey different personalities to me.

6 comments on “Lanky family”

  1. I’m thinking 1880s. The boy’s outfit surprises me: I would expect him to wear a jacket for a formal family photo. I wonder if his boots and the father’s thick shoes indicate that they do some physical labor. The buzzed haircuts are also a little unusual. (Or maybe I’m reading too much into these things.)

    • I was having those exact thoughts about the clothing. I even wondered if it was a traveling photographer and they grabbed the kid in from the field to include him. More likely it’s just an independent-minded boy, or a family that can’t afford Sunday-best clothing for the growing kids. I thought the buzzed hair was unusual, too, though not unique.

  2. I was going to say late 1870’s, early 1880’s–of course if we could see the lady’s dress better, it would be easier to know.

    • Hi Lisa! Thanks for the thoughts on the date. You and Christine (harriedcustomer) seem to be in agreement, and that’s a nice compromise between the date ranges I was considering. You’re right, it would be nice to see more of her outfit, but that’s so often the case. Funny, they didn’t seem to be taking us into account when the posed for his portrait. 🙂

  3. Here is info on cabinet cards.Introduced: 1866.

    First used for horizontal views, then eventually adapted for portraits.

    Peak popularity: 1880s. Although not uncommon in the 1870s, the cabinet card did not displace the carte de visite completely until the 1880s.

    As far as the buzz cut is concerned, I can only think of one reason for this cut…lice!

    • Hey, Mrs. P, thanks for the info! I knew cabinet cards were introduced that early, I just think of them as being more popular later in the century. And yes, I was wondering if maybe he had suffered from a lice infestation! To our modern eyes, his hair looks perfectly normal, but I agree it’s unusual for a child at that time.

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