Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #85 The Strangest Thing Happened

The strangest thing happened while I was looking at the tintypes in this collection. I was setting up to scan one of an unidentified couple at a higher resolution (DPI) to bring out more detail so that I could write about it.

Since I had the scanner set up and the photographs at hand, I decided to scan all ten of the tintypes. One of them, the first one I shared in the post 52 Ancestors: #14 Albert Spencer LILLIE (1848-1913) ~ Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can, was glued to a card with writing on the front bottom and on the back.

ASLWhen I wrote about this tintype in April 2015 (has it been nearly two years?), I had only the digital images I received per email from my cousin Joe. It was my first post using the photographs from his collection and I knew nothing at all about vintage photography.

With the actual tintype in hand, I noticed the card it was attached to was loose at the bottom where the name A. S. Lillie was written. I took a closer look, shining a light in under the plate. It was loose all along the edges. As I was handling it, the card seemed to barely be attached. I pulled the card away a bit and it detached from the plate.

The tintype must have been stored in humid conditions with the card. It appears to have rusted and gotten stuck and not glued on purpose. Once detached, I saw the card was actually a carte de visite.

1870albertspencerlilliecdv1870albertspencerlilliecdvbackAlbert Spencer LILLIE ca. 1870
Photo type: Carte de visite (CDV)
Card size: 2 3/8″ x 4 1/4″
Card color: beige
Card edges: rounded corners
Image size: ca. 1 1/2″
Border: a thin inner & a thicker outer line
Front imprint: none
Back imprint: none
Photographer: none
Labeling: handwriting on back & front
Damage: rust from a tintype

Four different persons wrote information on the back of this CDV, which appeared to identify the tintype when I wrote the original post. In ink at the top: Albert S. Lillie. Directly below in pencil and very faded only the beginning of Albert can be read. In the center, again in pencil, A. S. Lillie age 22 yrs. At the bottom, in yet another handwriting in ballpoint pen, Isaac Lillie father.

Albert S. LILLIE (1848-1913) is my closest relative in this collection of old photos. He was the nephew of my 3rd great-grandmother Clementine (Gowing) DEMPSEY.

The border is a thin inner line and a thicker outer line and the corners are rounded. This as well as the size and placement of the image help to date the picture between 1869-1872. The image on the carte de visite is a young man identified as Albert Spencer LILLIE age 22 years as written both on the front and back. Born in 1848, this would mean the CDV is from about 1870.

Close up of the image on the carte de visite

Is there a method to remove the rust from the front of the photograph? Should I try using a razor blade to lift a little bit of rust from the outer part of the card – as a test? I would love to be able to see his whole face and be able to compare it with the other two photos I have of Albert.

While scanning the tintypes I made another discovery which I will share next week. I hope it will make up for leaving you hanging with yet another mystery to be solved. Who is the man in the tintype which was attached to Albert’s photo?


More about this collection, how it came to be in my possession,
and links to previous posts in the series can be found here.

Please contact me!
Are you related to a person mentioned in this post? Send an email to
openingdoorsinbrickwalls @ pt.lu or message me on my Facebook page
Opening Doors in Brick Walls.

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.












Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

15 thoughts on “Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #85 The Strangest Thing Happened”

    1. I wouldn’t try to do anything with the tintypes. The rust I meant is on the carte de visite. I would have to talk to someone about how to clean it up or if it’s possible. The razor blade line was a teaser for anyone who has more expertise. Thanks for the compliment and comment, Andy.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I didn’t know any of this either when I first started the series, Andy. I’ve only recently started adding the information on the photos, i.e. type, size, etc. You’re comment has given me an idea. 😉


  1. I really enjoyed this post. It got me thinking about a few pictures I have picked up at antique/thrift stores with limited id written. Im thinking of revisiting some of those mysteries to try and solve (not relatives but enjoy trying to find family of these treasures) Thanks for this post!

    Liked by 2 people

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