Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wedding Wednesday - Late 1880's (Victorian Era) Austin, Texas Newlyweds

This cabinet card, although a bit faded, is still a great photograph of a lovely bride and her groom from circa 1889 Austin, TX.  The bride is wearing a lovely white gown with fitted bodice, high neck and the shoulders have the slight puff seen in the late 1880's.  Her headdress is also quite lovely with the small white buds, I'm not sure what they are called, but I have seen them on other photographs in this time frame.  They are also on the groom's matching boutonniere. He is seated with his hand in jacket - I have never understood the significance of this pose - and the bride has her hand resting on his shoulder.

The back of the photograph has a very interesting photographer's mark, note the dragon breathing fire in the upper left hand corner.  The photographer was Harvey Roberts Marks (1821 - 1902) well-known Daguerrean and photographer, born in New York City and according to "Pioneer Photographers From The Mississippi To The Continental Divide" he had an illustrious career criss-crossing the country from San Francisco (1851) Baltimore, MD (1851 - 1853) to Mobile, AL (1855 - 1859) to Houston (1865-1867) to Austin(1870 - 1902).

In February 1851 in San Francisco he daguerreotyped the castaways of the Japanese ship Eriki-Maru while they were aboard the US revenue bark, Polk.  This was substantiated two years later by the "Illustrated News" who published three wood engravings of these sailors with the comment that the illustrations were after daguerreotypes by H. R. Marks of Baltimore.  See here for a photo of one of the castaways.

Marks won a number of awards during his career including January of 1853 from the Maryland Institute  the "highest premium for the eminent superiority of his Pictures" and seventeen prizes at the 1880 Capitol State Fair in Austin.  He also was the vice president of the national Photographic Association in 1874 and 1881 and was a life member.   He also served as a captain  in the Houston Battalion of militia infantry during the Civil War.  There are cartes de visites still existing  with his Houston imprint of uniformed Confederate officers.

He is said to have the longest career of any Austin photographer in the nineteenth century.  He was pre-deceased by his wife Emily and three children and left his estate to his long time assistant George H. Berner.

Source:  Pioneer Photographers From the Mississippi to the Continental Divide, 1839 - 1865 by Peter E. Palmquist, Thomas R. Kailbourn.  Stanford University Press, Stanford California, 2005.  Google eBooks.


  1. The back of this card is fascinating...such beautiful graphic design.

  2. The bride appears to have been caught off-guard. Maybe the groom is reaching for a comb to fix that cowlick.

    It would be interesting to learn what the standards for excellence in photography were.

  3. I think the pose was done that way because the bride could not sit in her corset. Also, keep in mind how long they had to stay still for the photo to be taken. Not an "instant" like today but probably at least a few long minutes to keep completely still.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...