Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bearded Gentleman


Photographer: Thorsen and Hartman
Estimated Date: Late 1800's (1880-1890)
Location: Illinois, USA

Notes: According to one of the better cabinet card reference websites, LangdonRoad.com, Thorsen was a photographer of Washington Street in Morris, Illinois. . Thorsen, it seems, ran his studio separately for a time prior to (or after?) teaming up with Hartman. I have found quite a few photographs of cabinet cards with only Thorsen's name on the bottom, but not Hartman's. In fact, I only found one other reference of a "Thorsen and Hartman" photograph suggesting that this duo was short-lived. In the Thorsen-only photographs, his full name is written as B.B. Thorsen, as indicated on the LangdonRoad website. I know even less about Mr. Hartman; LangdonRoad.com has a reference to three different photographers by the name of Hartman - two from Iowa and one from New York. Either of these could have paired up with Thorsen to produce the above photograph. 
The historical recreation section of the Morris town website shows some antique photographs of the town during the time period that this photograph was likely taken. The top photograph on the linked page shows Liberty Street in 1880; after a quick look at Google Maps, I found that this street intersects with Washington Street. It's fun to picture this gentleman walking down Liberty Street, as it is shown in the old image, and making his way towards Thorsen's studio to have his photograph taken. Although difficult to distinguish anything, I thought that a microscopic view of the button on this mans lapel may give us some fun hints. I saw what appears to be a faint "H" with what seems to be an asterisk of some sort next to it, but that doesn't really make any sense. The top part of the second vertical line in the "H" seems to curl inwards, almost making it look like a sideways "B". I'm not too familiar with the history of lapel pins (although I believe they were awarded to soldiers during and after WW1), but I feel as though the pin in this photograph must have some sort of significance. I'd like to think it indicates that this man was of some importance or high rank in the community. 

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