Young man with an earring

By: usermattw

Jun 29 2016

Tags: , ,

Category: Men


Click here to view it larger.

Click here to view the back.


What it is:

Cabinet card measuring 4.25 x 6.5 inches.


What I know about it:

Photographer is J. R. Pearson of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Otherwise undated and unidentified.



What stands out for me about this photo, besides the charmingly quirky face and the way his tie is stuck beneath his jacket collar, is the fact that he is wearing an earring.  Of course, earrings have been worn by men since the beginning of fashion.  For example, here is a similar earring worn hundreds of years earlier in a famous portrait of Shakespeare.  But it still strikes me as unusual, and I don’t recall any others of this vintage (or any vintage, really) in my collection.  Does this tell us something about him?  Was he a sailor?  A poet?  Just some fashion-forward dandy?  Hard to say, though it’s fun to imagine his story.

4 comments on “Young man with an earring”

  1. I guessed the tiny lapels could date the picture to the 1890’s, but it turns out that style stretches back quite aways, so it’s not as much help as I thought it would be. Then I figured maybe the Egyptian Revival design on the back would be useful, but it turns out that style goes back farther than I thought, too!

    • The format of the cabinet card itself can also provide clues to narrowing down the date range. Things like the glossy color on the front and back, the gold lettering, the gold beveled edges, etc. Online references vary, but I’d guess this is roughly late-1880s to early-1890s. If anybody else has other suggestions, please let me know.

  2. The back of the card is amazing.

    The earring makes this photo really interesting too – I don’t know what type of man wore an earring back then… pirate? Yet he’s very carefully brushed his hair and groomed his mustache…

    I have no ideas, but I’m definitely intrigued!

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