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Author Topic: A curious photograph.  (Read 104 times)
J. Wilhelm
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« on: August 29, 2020, 05:59:18 am »

This photo, actually a collodion-positive is not a picture of a Steampunk wearing a funny wig, but rather is a portrait of an Objiwe Native American, taken in St. Paul Minnesota, around 1850 by one of two photographers, " Whitney or Upton, " according to Babelcolour, the business which restored the photo.

Besides the curious makeshift goggles, the headpiece might be some sort of a fur hat and curious protrusions might either be a tall collar or some earrings. It's hard to tell. His left eye can be seen shut closed through the goggles. Perhaps a deep scar on the side of the mouth can be seen.

People on Twitter have speculated if he could have been a Métis trader instead (Native Canadian). One reader noted that settlement west of the Mississippi didn't happen until 1851, and Whitney Gallery would have been the most likely photographer. Fort Snelling was located by the river, and many traders were native Métis.

Certainly seems an interesting fellow. Any thoughts?

« Last Edit: August 29, 2020, 06:10:01 am by J. Wilhelm » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2020, 09:56:27 am »

Greetings My Good J

ca. 1850, [Ambrotype portrait of an Ojibwa gentleman with
goggles and a hair piece], by Whitney or Upton of St. Paul, Minnesota.
via Behold Auction Gallery, Sale 45

". 1850: Ambrotype of an Ojibwa Man wearing western dress and snow goggles."


Ok.. western dress, wig and snow gogles. check

definitely a wig - not any sort of Native American head-dress with which I am familiar.
strange cloth sticking out by ears... they actually look like the bits of cloth or paper that ladies twisted their hair into.
more facial hair than any Ojibwa I know ( not that I know all that many )

He Could be Metis or one of the other "remnants" of the Voyageurs.

Mpls and Ft Snelling area saw a lot of Ojibway as well as Souix ( Lakotah).
Souix btw is what the Oibway and Chippewah told the French Voyageurs when asked "who are those people?"
It means alternatively, "snake in the grass" and/or "enemy"

rather like "Navajo"  is the name the Pueblo/Zuni/Hopi people gave to the Dineh` . It  means "horse thief".
The real name, "Dineh`" means "the people" .... go figure


clothes are rather ill fitting.... especially for a Gent out to get his image taken on purpose.
It almost looks like a "gag" photo, and oddly , I found quite a few when searching this thing. More
than I expected since they weren't exactly cheap...

Then I found this one


ca. 1852, [daguerreotype portrait of an Iroquois man, probably Seneca, with applied hand-gilt detail] via Heritage Auctions

I highly doubt that he is Iroquois, and the outfit looks like stage costume over a Union Suit, with fake pearls.

for comparison, here is a portait of a Delegate, (identity and tribal affiliation not known)



There were HUGE numbers of tintypes, durogotypes, etc etc made using props
and or prop costumes - I cannot count the number of "civil War" portraits that use
what look to be the very same pistol, musket and "bowie knife thrust thru the belt".
Very few enlisted men actually carried personal weapons on their way "in" which was
when most images were taken.

I would hypothesize, that these are staged photos with props made as "cards" to sell as palor entertainments...

but very intrigueing at the least!

« Last Edit: August 29, 2020, 10:18:17 am by Prof Marvel » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2020, 11:52:41 pm »

This photo, actually a collodion-positive is not a picture of a Steampunk wearing a funny wig, but rather is a portrait of an Objiwe Native American, taken in St. Paul Minnesota, around 1850 by one of two photographers, " Whitney or Upton, " according to Babelcolour, the business which restored the photo.

Besides the curious makeshift goggles, the headpiece might be some sort of a fur hat and curious protrusions might either be a tall collar or some earrings. It's hard to tell. His left eye can be seen shut closed through the goggles. Perhaps a deep scar on the side of the mouth can be seen.

People on Twitter have speculated if he could have been a Métis trader instead (Native Canadian). One reader noted that settlement west of the Mississippi didn't happen until 1851, and Whitney Gallery would have been the most likely photographer. Fort Snelling was located by the river, and many traders were native Métis.

Certainly seems an interesting fellow. Any thoughts?


The gentleman appears to be wearing  the trappings of European sartoial accoutrements for the photograph, as  a display of status. It was quite a trend in indigenous cultures to collect such items as souvenirs.
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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2020, 11:54:22 pm »

Greetings My Good J

ca. 1850, [Ambrotype portrait of an Ojibwa gentleman with
goggles and a hair piece], by Whitney or Upton of St. Paul, Minnesota.
via Behold Auction Gallery, Sale 45

". 1850: Ambrotype of an Ojibwa Man wearing western dress and snow goggles."


Ok.. western dress, wig and snow gogles. check

definitely a wig - not any sort of Native American head-dress with which I am familiar.
strange cloth sticking out by ears... they actually look like the bits of cloth or paper that ladies twisted their hair into.
more facial hair than any Ojibwa I know ( not that I know all that many )

He Could be Metis or one of the other "remnants" of the Voyageurs.

Mpls and Ft Snelling area saw a lot of Ojibway as well as Souix ( Lakotah).
Souix btw is what the Oibway and Chippewah told the French Voyageurs when asked "who are those people?"
It means alternatively, "snake in the grass" and/or "enemy"

rather like "Navajo"  is the name the Pueblo/Zuni/Hopi people gave to the Dineh` . It  means "horse thief".
The real name, "Dineh`" means "the people" .... go figure


clothes are rather ill fitting.... especially for a Gent out to get his image taken on purpose.
It almost looks like a "gag" photo, and oddly , I found quite a few when searching this thing. More
than I expected since they weren't exactly cheap...

Then I found this one


ca. 1852, [daguerreotype portrait of an Iroquois man, probably Seneca, with applied hand-gilt detail] via Heritage Auctions

I highly doubt that he is Iroquois, and the outfit looks like stage costume over a Union Suit, with fake pearls.

for comparison, here is a portait of a Delegate, (identity and tribal affiliation not known)



There were HUGE numbers of tintypes, durogotypes, etc etc made using props
and or prop costumes - I cannot count the number of "civil War" portraits that use
what look to be the very same pistol, musket and "bowie knife thrust thru the belt".
Very few enlisted men actually carried personal weapons on their way "in" which was
when most images were taken.

I would hypothesize, that these are staged photos with props made as "cards" to sell as palor entertainments...

but very intrigueing at the least!



The man's traditional dress almost has a Pacific flavour in its style

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