Point of View

Every photograph has more than one "point of view." In addition to any attitudinal view point there is also a physical relationship of the camera to subject. In portrait photography it is usually expected that the face and front of the body is the logical point of focus. In our collection of thousands of images this is most often true but in a few cases we have found portraits with another "point of view." This page will feature some of those.

This set of carte-de-visite photographs dated 1869 by Wiggens & Barnes of Winona, Minn. show the front and back view of the same portly gentleman standing by a studio chair. Why did he take off this top hat for the back view? I am not sure but it does prove that the "comb over" has been around for a long time.

On the right is a wet plate ferrotype with an oval embossed center. It shows the back of a woman's head with an elaborate arrangement of curls. Was it a lady who was very proud of a new hairdo? An advertisement for a hairdresser? A message to a rejected suitor? We will never know!

The cabinet card below shows a back view of a mannequin wearing a dress made of glass fabric. The lengthy description on the back says that it was made for a Spanish Princess by the Libbey Glass Company and shown in the World Columbian Exposition of 1893. In this charming cabinet card a small girl turns her back to the camera. Was she is in a snit because she did not want her picture made or was there once a companion front view to go with this?

Below in a studio set with painted backdrop and a real desk two men sit in office chairs with their feet on the desk. Again we can only wonder why.

Several years ago we bought a lot of unmounted albumen prints at an auction. The photographer was not identified but we were charmed be their atmosphere. They appear to date from the late 19th century and it seems that they were made by an amateur, in the days when that word had its real root meaning, the love of the art. They show a group of people dressed in costume playing out scenes from the photographer's imagination. The two prints on the left show the same wistful young woman playing a stringed instrument in both a back and front view.

Below is the front and back of a two sided card mounted photographs from Voigt of Homburg. The nonstandard size, 5 3/8 X 2 1/8 inches, and style of dress place it early in the 20th century. Was the young man so proud of his sporty clothes and boater had that he wanted to have both sides documented? Was this a novelty style of card offered by this photographer?


We have several postcards made with mirrors that multiply the images of the subject. These are called Multigraphs or Multiphotography. Only the back view is real while the other four are reflections. In the top view by Dobkin Studio of Atlantic City, NJ, a lady in a fur trimmed coat seems to enjoy conversing with herself. In the bottom photograph by Myers-Cope Co. of Atlantic City, NJ, a young man is engaged in a card game with himself.

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**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.

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Updated on 9/2004