Thursday, December 16, 2010

The plot thickens?

For those of you who haven't been reading Tuesday's autochrome post's comments the Vintage Baroness and I have been debating over the time in which two of the Autochromes were created. Mrs. Baroness is a fabulous vintage dealer so I very highly respect her knowledge and opinions on the matter, but other than deciding that that one photo was very likely incorrectly dated we've still been pretty stumped.

I did manage to find out some information about the autochrome titled "Man and women carrying suitcases" by Charles C. Zoller. The catalog date on this photo is 1907 - 1932, but I'd like to narrow it down a little further.

My first thoughts were that this was a photo from the late teens or very early twenties. Based on the cut of the dress and the man's sweater/shirt combo. The Baroness suggested that this dress may in fact be an maternity dress and that the frame under the woman's hat looked like a 1930s horsehair type thing.

I became very excited at the thought of this lady's dress being a maternity dress because the thought had not even crossed my mind.It meant that this photo could very well be from the early 1930s, but I was still not convinced that this photo was from the late 20s/early 30s based on her lack of cosmetics. Of course not all ladies wore cosmetics, but with a color photo being such an expensive and time consuming process I highly doubted that a couple would spend the money on one and the lady would not bother to use some rouge.

Then the thought hit me that perhaps these people were friends or relations of Mr. Zoller's. So I went over to the George Eastman House online archives to do a bit of hunting. There are probably at least a hundred of Mr. Zoller's autochromes in the Eastman House collection and I knew that a good portion of them were online. Well, with a bit of luck I was able to find this photo of the same couple (with some unknown man on the porch) among a bunch of Mr. Zoller's personal photos.

The photo is titled "Couple leaving for honeymoon" and dated to the same time as the first photo. To me it is very likely that these people were part of Mr. Zoller's personal life, though I cannot say how. It's highly unlikely that this lady is wearing a maternity dress if they are leaving for their honeymoon so my first reaction was to go back to my original thought that this photo was snapped in the late teens. Of course than I noticed their shoes and now I'm not so sure of my original estimation.

The moral of this story is that I really have no idea when this photo was taken. I'm still trying to find the answer so if any of you have any wisdom you'd like to impart that might help me out here, please do so!


BaronessVonVintage said...

EEKS! This is soooo puzzling, isn't it! You're right that it would be scandalous if that was a maternity dress pre-honeymoon! What's with her shoes, though? I'm eager to see what others have to say!

BaronessVonVintage said...

Here's a pattern for an Edwardian maternity dress, which was what made me think of this one.

The length of the dress makes me agree with you on the late Edwardian-1920 dating. Crownless hats were more of a 1920s and then 30s thing, so this might reflect that idea, too. The lady certainly does not appear to have a corseted figure, which again reflects a dating later than high Edwardian (post WWI, seems accurate?). Whew, fashion sleuthing is fun.