Spirit Drawings by Wella & Pet Anderson * New drawing added 2/2009

In the 19th century a visit to a spirit photographer was not the only way to obtain an image of your departed loved ones. Spirit artists offered drawings and paintings of those who had passed on. Wella and Pet Anderson, a husband and wife team of spirit artists, were famous for drawings they made of the departed while in a trance.

Below is a carte de visite copy of their drawing of three brothers, children of R.C. & B.R. Trowbridge of Tully, New York. It was made in September, 1868. One can imagine how precious it must have been to a family that had lost three children.
As can be seen in the close-up below the boys hold pansies and morning glories. In the 19th century there was a "Language of Flowers" in which each flower had a meaning. The Pansy meant "You occupy my thoughts" and the Morning Glory meant "Affection". Also note that the buttons on the boys shirts are tiny stars. Perhaps they indicate they are in the heavens.
Language of Flowers
Below the picture of the boys is a notice that the image was copyrighted in 1868 by the father. This suggests to me that it may have been sold and not just a keepsake for the family. There is no photographer credited.
spirit drawing cdv

We recently obtained another Anderson spirit drawing and a companion carte-de-visit of the the living twin sister of the spirit child. The photograph of the drawing gives a date of January, 1869, a year after the Trowbridge boys sat for their portraits for the Andersons in the "Spirit Life". The spirit pictured is Lily whose spirit name is "Sunbeam." She was the daughter of L.E. & S. A. R. Waterman of Boston.

This card bears a photographer's credit for W. H. Getchell, Boston. Although the boys' card does not carry a photographer's mark it seem likely to us that it is also by Getchell. The note that copies of Lily's carte can be had for 25¢ and a 3¢ stamp give the mother's address. This reinforces our assumption that the Trowbridge boys' card was also for sale.

The card of Lily came with a companion card that is a photograph of her living twin sister Rose. It is also by Getchell and is available for 25¢ and a 3¢ stamp. One can only imagine the effect on a four year old of having her photograph sold as an adjunct to that of her dead twin sister. We have seen set of photographs of Lily and Rose in another collection in which Rose is dressed in the same dotted dress with rosebuds.

*Note: In October, 2007 this section of our site was expanded and rearranged. If an image is not in an expected place, please try one of the other pages from the list below.

Spirit Photographs: How our collection started/Brewster & Mumler
Spirit Photographs: A Tintype Spirit Photograph *added 10/07
Spirit Photographs: Carte-de-visite spirit photographs
Spirit Photographs: Carte-de-visite of a spirit drawing < You are Here *updated 2/09
Spirit Photographs: Cabinet card spirit photographs
Spirit Photographs: Post card spirit photographs
Spirit Photographs: Post cards of unknown mediums
Spirit Photographs: Doyle and the Spirits *added 10/07
Spirit Photographs: How to make a fake spirit photograph
Spirit Photography: Bibliography & Links

Related interests of the Victorian Era and early 20th century in our collection:
Memento Mori - Remembering the departed: post mortem and memorial photography in the 19th and early 20th century
Mesmerism - "Flint the Mesmerist"
Phrenology - The study of human personality from the shape of the head

Return to The Collection of Collections page

Collection of Collections Site Map

Contact us at studio@brightbytes.com

**NOTE** All items on the Collection of Collections web site are in our private collection and are NOT for sale. From time to time duplicate items from our collection will be offered for sale in the Do You Remember This? shop on the GoAntiques cyber mall. Visit the Do You Remember This? inventory page for photographica and toaster related collectibles.

Please feel free to write us if you want to chat or share information about areas we collect but we will NOT give appraisals.

© Bright Bytes Studio - Do not use images without permission

Updated on 2/2009