1800s

Vintage: Historic B&W photos of Peking, China (19th Century)

Vintage: Historic B&W photos of Peking, China (19th Century)

During the Second Opium War, Anglo-French forces captured the outskirts of the city, looting and burning the Old Summer Palace in 1860. Under the Convention of Peking ending that war, Western powers for the first time secured the right to establish permanent diplomatic presences within the city. In 1900, the attempt by the “Boxers” to eradicate this presence, as well…
Vintage: Historic B&W photos of Calcutta, India (1890s)

Vintage: Historic B&W photos of Calcutta, India (1890s)

Throughout the late 18th and 19th century, the city was a centre of the East India Company’s opium trade. By the 1850s, Calcutta had two areas: White Town, which was primarily British and centred on Chowringhee and Dalhousie Square; and Black Town, mainly Indian and centred on North Calcutta. The city underwent rapid industrial growth starting in the early 1850s,…
Vintage: South of India (19th Century)

Vintage: South of India (19th Century)

The appointment in 1848 of Lord Dalhousie as Governor General of the East India Company set the stage for changes essential to a modern state. These included the consolidation and demarcation of sovereignty, the surveillance of the population, and the education of citizens. Technological changes—among them, railways, canals, and the telegraph—were introduced not long after their introduction in Europe. However,…
Vintage: Portraits of Abraham Lincoln (19th Century)

Vintage: Portraits of Abraham Lincoln (19th Century)

Abraham Lincoln’s personal secretary John Nicolay believed that no photograph could capture Honest Abe’s essence: “There are many pictures of Lincoln,” he said, “[but] there is no portrait of him.” Over 130 photographs of Lincoln exist—here are a few you may not have come across before.
Vintage: Edinburgh, Scotland in Calotype (1840s)

Vintage: Edinburgh, Scotland in Calotype (1840s)

David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson were a pair of Scottish photographers working in the 1840s. They are best known for their wonderful portraits, but over the course of their sadly short partnership (Adamson died only five years in, aged 27) they also created quite a few city views. This blog has previously featured a selection of their photographs of…
Vintage: Decayed Daguerreotype Portraits by Mathew Brady (19th Century)

Vintage: Decayed Daguerreotype Portraits by Mathew Brady (19th Century)

Mathew Brady is one of the most celebrated 19th-century American photographers, best known for his portraits of celebrities and his documentation of the American Civil War which earned him the title of “father of photojournalism”. The Library of Congress received the majority of the Brady daguerreotypes as a gift from the Army War College in 1920. via The Public Domain…
Vintage: Smith and Telfer Studio in Cooperstown, New York (1865-1885)

Vintage: Smith and Telfer Studio in Cooperstown, New York (1865-1885)

Washington G. Smith (1828-1893) and Arthur J. Telfer (1859-1954) spent almost one hundred years photographing people, events, and scenes in and around Cooperstown. At the time of his gift Telfer was 93 years old and was widely thought to be the oldest working photographer in the United States. Washington Smith worked with partners while he learned the daguerreotype and ambrotype…
Vintage: Portrait Photos of Cambridge University Men (late 19th Century)

Vintage: Portrait Photos of Cambridge University Men (late 19th Century)

The colleges at the University of Cambridge were originally an incidental feature of the system. No college is as old as the university itself. The colleges were endowed fellowships of scholars. There were also institutions without endowments, called hostels. The hostels were gradually absorbed by the colleges over the centuries, but they have left some indications of their existence, such…
Vintage: Frances Louisa Clayton (19th Century)

Vintage: Frances Louisa Clayton (19th Century)

Several hundred women disguised themselves as men and took the bold step of leaving the comforts of home to serve their country during the Civil War. Frances Clalin Clayton disguised herself as a man and took the name Jack Williams in order to fight in the army. For several months, she served in Missouri artillery and cavalry corps. Frances Clalin…
Vintage: Street Scenes of the Munster Region, Ireland (late 19th Century)

Vintage: Street Scenes of the Munster Region, Ireland (late 19th Century)

Munster is one of the provinces of Ireland situated in the south of Ireland. In early Ireland, the Kingdom of Munster was one of the kingdoms of Gaelic Ireland ruled by a “king of over-kings”. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland, the ancient kingdoms were shired into counties for administrative and judicial purposes. In later centuries, local government legislation has…
Vintage: Views of San Francisco by G. R. Fardon (1856)

Vintage: Views of San Francisco by G. R. Fardon (1856)

Originally published in 1856, George Robinson Fardon’s San Francisco Album is the earliest existing photographic record of an American city. An unmatched historical document of San Francisco during its years of rapid growth and burgeoning prosperity in the wake of the Gold Rush, the album is aesthetically compelling as well. Fardon (1806-1886), arrived in San Francisco at age 43. He…
Vintage: Montparnasse Train Derailment in Paris (1895)

Vintage: Montparnasse Train Derailment in Paris (1895)

At first glance, the photos look like stills from an old disaster movie or a spectacular example of theme park scenery welcoming visitors to some wild new ride. However, these extraordinary images are actually testament to a real-life tragedy, the derailment of the Granville-Paris Express that on October 22, 1895 tore through the façade of the Gare Montparnasse, injuring a…
Vintage: Russian Beauties in Traditional Costumes (late 19th Century)

Vintage: Russian Beauties in Traditional Costumes (late 19th Century)

These photos were taken in the end of 19th century and now are kept in the collection of the Russian Museum of Ethnography. The women in the photos are wearing traditional costumes of different regions of Russia. And though you can see many regional differences in the outfits there are two similar basic elements – sarafan and kokoshnik. Sarafan is…
Vintage: Portraits of American Ladies by Mathew Brady (1863)

Vintage: Portraits of American Ladies by Mathew Brady (1863)

During the Civil War, Mathew Brady and his associates traveled throughout the eastern part of the country, capturing the effects of the War through photographs of people, towns, and battlefields. Additionally, Brady kept studios in Washington, DC and New York City, where many influential politicians and war heroes sat for portraits. Brady photographed many subjects in the time of the…
Vintage: Everyday Life of Ontario, Canada by Reuben R. Sallows (late 19th Century)

Vintage: Everyday Life of Ontario, Canada by Reuben R. Sallows (late 19th Century)

At the turn of the 20th century, when most cameras and photographers operated out of a studio, Ontario-based photographer Reuben R. Sallows (1855-1937) took his heavy, cumbersome equipment outside. He photographed people at work and play in the small towns, farmlands and in the expansive Canadian wilderness of Ontario, the western rovinces and northern Quebec. A rogue photographer, Sallows did…
Vintage: Everyday Life of France by Amélie Galup (late 19th Century)

Vintage: Everyday Life of France by Amélie Galup (late 19th Century)

Amélie Galup (1856-1943) taught herself photography in 1895 at the family home in Saint-Antonin-Nobleval, where she spent her vacations, turning the basement into a darkroom. She developed and printed the pictures she took of her husband, their two children and her family. Galup constructed a set in one room of the house, recreating the conditions of a portrait studio, backdrop…
Vintage: Chinese People from Qing Dynasty (1860s)

Vintage: Chinese People from Qing Dynasty (1860s)

When the Tongzhi Emperor came to the throne at the age of five in 1861, these officials rallied around him in what was called the Tongzhi Restoration. Their aim was to adopt Western military technology in order to preserve Confucian values. Zeng Guofan, in alliance with Prince Gong, sponsored the rise of younger officials such as Li Hongzhang, who put…
Vintage: Everyday Life of New York by Wallace G. Levison (19th Century)

Vintage: Everyday Life of New York by Wallace G. Levison (19th Century)

Wallace G. Levison was a chemist, inventor, and lecturer who founded the Departments of Mineralogy and Astronomy at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in the latter half of the 19th century. As the dawn of the 20th century approached, newer, more sensitive film emulsions were developed that allowed pictures to be taken with faster and faster shutter speeds.…