Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Young Men part five: Chin beards

My last entry was July 19th? Wow. Time does indeed fly. Between then and now has been a lot of heat, even more humidity and a whole passel (as we put it in SW Ohio) of tourists. I get asked daily - after I have made my appearance at the door of the 1810 farmhouse I work in - how I can stand wearing a heavy dress, stockings and a hat, along with that corset and all those petticoats in 90 degree weather? The obvious answer is 'not very well'. I won't get to take a breath until September. But that's ok. If the site is busy, we'll be there another year.

Now, on to today's topic. Chin beards. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? Sorry about that. Net-iquette says not to shout, but really.... Chin beards have to be one of the more...questionable...of history's fashion statements for men. A clean shaven look topped off with a growth of hair on the chin that is not easily disinguishable from a stock collar. Oh well, since women were running away with corsets and wasping their waists to 18 and counting down inches at the time, I guess there is little I (or any other female) can say.

A friend of mine suggested this young man looks Amish, or Quaker perhaps? He is, again, well dressed and fairly prosperous though his suit has a homespun look. He is obviously not a dandy, and has a nice serious look. Again, there is that confidence. Men seemed to know who they were in the past. Today there is so much confusion about the roles of males and females. I, for one, feel that men should be men, and women, women. We should be equal, but different. What good is there in being liberated if we are only liberated to pretend to be something we are not?

Look out, here come the PC police....

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this latest image. There are more to come....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

My Young Men part four: The Wolf Man

Or so I think of him. Just look at those eyes. I'm betting they were ice blue.

This was one of the first dags I purchased. Quite the affluent fellow. Unlike the other images I have posted, this young man's clothing shows he came from wealth. He is also quite confident and completely at ease. His bearing is erect. Was he a soldier at one time, perhaps? Is he a lawyer? I would say that he is definitely well-educated. Like the other images I have posted, his story is unknown as is his name. One can only speculate (and be maddeningly frustrated by the lack of knowledge!)

I hope you are enjoying my gallery of guys. Another will post next week.

Outhouse poll

The results are in. The most often found occupant of an outhouse? A snake according to the responders. My experience runs more to spiders, but the snakes are there - usually eating the mice! Anyhow, thanks. A new poll will open soon.

The outhouse image is from the Sarah A. MooneyMemorial Museum 542 West 'D' Street Lemoore, California 93245. No copyright infringement is intended.

A Sense of the World

It's been a while since I have made an entry. We are at the height of the season at the Piqua Historical Area and, I can tell you with confidence, a corset, five petticoats, stockings and a cap do not mix well with a week of 90 degree heat! Anyhow, I finally found a minute to sit down and make a few entries. The first is a recommendation of a book.

Did you know that the most travelled individual in the 19th century was a blind man? Neither did I. While searching for an audio book to listen to on a long trip, I happened upon 'A Sense of the World' by Jason Roberts. Not only do I recommend it for the writer's wit and talent, but for the sheer wonder of the story. James Holman was a young twenty-something lieutenant in the British Navy when he went unexpectedly and completely blind. He also suffered from something the physicians of the age called 'flying gout', meaning he had severe debilitating pain in his limbs. Despite this, through the sheer will and wanderlust of the man, he managed to travel a quarter of a million miles in his life - BY HIMSELF - visiting and reporting on far-flung lands like Siberia and Ceylon. He was, in the 1830's, a celebrity. He was, also, a remarkably humorous, gentle and cheerful individual. I have been astonished, amused and stunned over and over in the reading of this book. Really, I cannot say enough. Go get a copy. You won't regret it. And please take a minute to visit the author's website. It's great too.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My young men continued

Today's image is a bit of a change of pace. Not a daguerreotype, but a portrait on ivory. I bought it while I was in Williamsburg VA visiting a friend. It was the end of the day. We were at an antique show and came across this image, along with a couple of others, in one of the booths. As the show was ending, the lady who ran the booth made me an offer I couldn't refuse and I came home with what is my usual 'take' from an antique show - something unique but flawed.

I don't know about you, but I dislike 'perfect' antiques. To me, it says no one ever used or enjoyed the item. Life uses and abuses. It breaks and bends. Most often, it does not destroy, but it leaves all of us a little rough around the edges. So it is with this young man. The image is near perfect, but it has been broken in two. Was it carried by a young woman whose heart was also broken? There was a lock of hair caught between the shattered glass and the images' backing. If you know about images like this, hair is often an indication of separation - either temporary or permanent. Hair was considered everlasting and so represented eternity.

So far as I can tell, this portrait is of a young man around twenty from the eighteen-tens to eighteen-teens. My guess would be that it is English, though I have no reason to suspect that. It's just a 'gut' feeling. The artist's talent is apparent in the way his 'look' pulls you in. There it is again. What I am attracted to in these old images. Intelligence. Purpose. Determination.

Beats a 'kodak' moment any day....

Now, after all that talk about things not being perfect, you are probably wondering about the second image above. I didn't mend the portrait, I just manipulated it - in the computer. I had to see what he looked like, didn't I?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Constriction devices

Corset or constriction device? Padded petticoat or prison? In truth, 19thc underpinnings are a little bit of both. Coming from someone who wears these two items eight months a year, five days a week, I think this is one thing that I do qualify as an expert on. In truth, until women lost their minds and began shooting for 12 inch waists, a corset was nothing more than an elegant back brace. And if you consider the back-breaking labor, the cast iron kettles that weighed in at app. 10 lbs each empty, and the endless babies coming about every 18 months, bracing your back came in very handy! As to the corded petticoat (padded or quilted) rather than being a prison, it actually gives a woman a real good grip on those multiple layers of petticoats or slips they wore under their dresses in the mid 19thc, and makes stair climbing a safer venture (just grab a cord and lift!) So you see it's not so bad....if it wasn't for our 21st century steel stays. (Now those hurt!)
Ok. So the corset poll has ended. Lacing in the back and wanting to breathe came in at a dead heat. So we'll settle for both. Ladies, I lace mine in the back and still manage to draw a breath!

A new poll follows....