Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #88 An Unidentified Couple


Unidentified Couple, ca. 1870s
Photo type
: Tintype
Tintype size: 1/6 plate; 2 5/8″ x 3 1/4″
Border style: N/A
Sleeve: none
Front imprint: none
Back imprint: none
Photographer: none
Labeling: none


While comparing this tintype to the rest in this collection I noticed a similarity.

threetintypesfringechairSeveral of the persons were posed sitting on or standing next to a familiar looking chair with fringe. At first I thought they had all been taken at the same studio as it looked like the same chair.

The fringe chair got it’s name from the fringe along the side arm, back, and bottom skirt of the chair. Designed for photography studios and patented in 1864, it was used into the 1870s. The back and the side arm could be raised and lowered allowing the photographer to pose his subjects in different positions. On PhotoTree.com I found this statement:

It became ‘old fashion’ in the late 1870s and is seldom seen after that.

This statement makes me wonder if the tintype on the far right has been identified correctly. In Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #20 Alnie W. ROYALTY it was dated at about 1893 as it was labeled Alnie Royalty.

Once I began searching for more photographs with similar fringe chairs, I found an entire Pinterest board dedicated to The Fringe Chair: Antiques Photographs.

Using the photography prop as a guide I estimated the featured photo of this post to have been taken in the late 1860s or in the 1870s. The back of the fringe chair can be seen behind the woman, the fringe peeking out under the arm she slipped into the crook of her husband’s arm and behind the elbow of her other arm.

unknowncoupletintypeThe woman’s dress appears to be a two-piece with a long jacket-like bodice buttoned up the front, a skirt which looks fuller at the hem, and a lacy scarf tied loosely at her neck. The dress has the small-waisted look of the 1860s but the sleeves do not seem to have the fuller shape of the period. Since she is sitting you can’t tell if she has a large or small bustle.

The man’s jacket has the closer fit look of the 1870s as opposed to the oversized look of the 1860s. His vest and watch chain are visible. The striped cuffs of his shirt are eye-catching. He posed with one hand holding his jacket lapel, the other on his lap, and his feet crossed.

charlesttHis hair and mustache look very similar to Charles W. ROYALTY (1861-1922) seen in this tintype (left). It makes me wonder if the couple might be Charles’ older brother Chester Ashley ROYALTY (1856-1917) and his wife Julia Hannah HODGE (1858-1924) who married on 27 April 1880.

I’m guessing this stunning couple may have posed for the tintype in the mid- to late-1870s, maybe even 1880. Could it be a wedding portrait?


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.

11 thoughts on “Old Photographs Saved From Trash Can ~ #88 An Unidentified Couple”

  1. They definitely could be brothers if not the same person. And the way her arm is entwined with his has a certain intimacy that could be an indication that it is a wedding photograph. Good deductions! And I love that someone has a Pinterest page for fringe chairs. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First, I have to comment that when I faithfully add photos to Pinterest, it DOES drive some traffic to my site, but it helps if they are Civil War (or other conflict) related, or collectibles/antiques. I think it is marvelous that you found a Pinterest site dedicated to fringed chairs used by photographers! The things that are on the Internet!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vera, I’ve started to add hashtags to mine: #genealogy #vintage etc. When I have a bit of time I’m going to go back and add them to the Old Photographs posts (first) and maybe others. It’s worth a try.
      Thank you, Vera, for the comment here and on my post in the FB group Genealogy Bloggers.


    1. Luanne, I don’t have any books on vintage photograph and rely on (I know!) the internet for this or that. I was really excited when I noticed the chair in several of the photos AND when I found out it was a prop that helps date a photograph. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It goes to show you that every item in a photo (person, dress, furniture, backdrop) is a clue. I’ll never think about the fringed chair in the same way (“old fashion” by 1870s – sheesh!).

    Liked by 1 person

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