Friday, March 14, 2008

1869 CDV of Display Item from E.M. Wentworth's "American Museum" in Boston

Seller's Description: Very rare, original CDV Photograph of a Display item from E. M. Worth's "American Museum" of Boston - an early Dime Museum similar to Barnum's "American Museum" in New York. The Photo pictures a man's hand displaying a large, leather Portfolio atop an oval table. Ink stamped text on the reverse reads "E. M. Worth's American Museum" / "The Portfolio on which John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence. 1776.". This outstanding, period photograph measures approx. 2 3/8” x 3 7/8” and is mounted on its original, square corner CDV Card Mount (dimensions are of the card mount). There is printed advertising text at the lower margin on reverse that reads "T Meeham, Manufacturer of Looking-Glasses, Pictures & Frames 810 Washington St. Boston, Mass.". We have been unable to find much information about E. M. Worth's "American Museum" but we did discover that in 1888 he was called a "long established showman" whose exhibitions had rivaled those of his contemporary P.T. Barnum. We were also able to find references to a few other 1860's CDV Photographs that exactly matched the format of the Photograph offered here (same card mount, same type ink stamp, same printed advert and featuring a disembodied hand holding a relic atop an oval table). These other CDV's pictured "One of Boots worn by Wilkes Booth at the Assassination of President Lincoln" another titled "Gen. Washington's Camp Lantern, Knife and Fork used during the Revolutionary War" and a third titled "President Abraham Lincoln's Straight Razor". The Photograph offered here (as well as the others that we discovered online) would have been used to advertise Worth's "American Museum" and might possibly also be available at the Museum as souvenirs. The photo is undated but printed on a square cornered mount typical of those used in the mid to late 1860's. Both the image and card mount are in very good condition - clean and crisp although the image is a bit faded. There are 2 thin black lines that are seen above the portfolio that on first inspection appeared to be ink marks but closer inspection reveals that they are either in the negative or else marks on the backdrop.

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