Spotting a Wedding Photo

Spotting a Wedding Photo

Irene Powell sent me this lovely wedding photo of her great-grandfather Joseph Kapler and his wife, Theresa. They were married in December, 1888. Their clothing is perfect for the late 1880s. Theresa's dress features a fitted bodice and her sleeves have vertical puffs at the shoulder seam. Her skirt has...

Irene Powell sent me this lovely wedding photo of her great-grandfather Joseph Kapler and his wife, Theresa. They were married in December, 1888.

Their clothing is perfect for the late 1880s. Theresa’s dress features a fitted bodice and her sleeves have vertical puffs at the shoulder seam. Her skirt has knife pleats at the side. Joseph wears a fitted 1880s jacket, a shirt with an upturned collar, vest and tie. He has short hair and a trimmed mustache.

This photo is a perfect example of how a bride would often wear a very nice dress, rather than the Victorian ideal of a white ensemble. In this case, Theresa has accessorized her attire with wedding white in the bow at her neckline and a tiny headpiece. She doesn’t carry a bouquet, but Joseph wears a large corsage pinned to his jacket. These tiny clues identify this as a wedding photo, even though neither one wears a wedding ring.

kapler  sonnkalb old 019.jpg

You might have wedding images in your collection and not recognize them. Watch for accessories that suggest a wedding—headpieces, corsages, flowers, bows and even sashes. Match up the family history information with a date for a photo, and you might be surprised that you have a wedding image or two. Getting married was a significant family milestone, and one that couples often commemorated with photos.

I’ve never seen the item that stands between them. It appears to be a small table, but it has unusual filigree legs and a support under the drum. Can anyone identify it?

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  1. Hi – I’m just getting acqainted w/ this blog but wanted to comment on Jne 2009 entries (for which comments are closed). In the photo crafts, there was a tin with a photo in it from Maya Road, and in the follow-up, it was said that these are no longer available. This is not correct. The tin is actually just the PACKAGING for Maya Road scrapbooking supplies, and you can see them here :

    http://www.mayaroad.net/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1_10&zenid=00177e7923c0cc170008b147fa425dbd

    Some have handles – the one shown in with the photo in it does not. They’re available for purchase (with the product in them) at various scrapbooking stores, both brick-and-mortar and online, as well as direct from the company at the link above.

    I’m not connected to the Maya Road company (nor any scrapbooking retailer) in any way but just wanted to contribute on a topic I have some knowledge about! 🙂

  2. I have seen similar stands of wrought or cast iron dated to the Nineteenth century used as wash stands or plant stands. A wash stand would seem to be an odd thing to have hanging around a photographer’s studio, at least as a prop, so I would suspect the latter.

  3. I am probably way off, but the base of the stand reminds me of a world globe stand. Photographers most likely gathered many rejected items of furniture to serve as props. A world globe stand with the globe removed, could have been made to look like a table by adding a piece of wood for the top and covering it with a small cloth. If that was done, I would imagine it to look very much like the stand in the photo.

  4. Hi Maureen,

    I’m wondering if the small table between the wedding couple is actually a sewing stand. I have read that a hopeful groom sometimes gave these to their prospective brides as a symbolic gift of their wedding and future life together. I came across another wedding portrait taken by the Lenz Brothers and it displays the same stand only on the opposite side of the bride. The background is also the same. It can be found here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/20939975@N04/3418546852/

    I’ve noticed that other wedding photos of the period occasionally have a similar style as far as positioning and arrangement of the couple. The groom typically stands or sits beside the hearth and mantle backdrop while the bride stands nearby with a needlework frame or similar representation. Perhaps this is to symbolize home and hearth? A fine example can be found here:

    http://www.tias.com/12632/PictPage/1923087237.html

    It appears that item may have been a favorite photo prop for the Lenz. Brothers’ studio. I believe it was also used in this photo of what looks like the confirmation of Katherine "Kate" Uthe. Perhaps it was additionally used in a symbolic nature to say that she is now approaching womanhood and will soon preparing for the possibility of marriage. The table or stand is shown at a different and more revealing angle. The bottom panel on the wall is the same as that of the two wedding photos. It can be viewed here:

    http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~tdlarson/kieler/uthe/hauser.htm

    Best To You!

    Talea