Monday, September 22, 2008

Vintage Photography - Pinbacks and Mirrors

Not only do I love being a photographer, I also enjoy vintage photography, especially the 1880s through 1940s time period.

So much can be learned from early photos - the clothing people wore, the work they did, the homes they lived in, what was happening in their lives. Photos were sometimes used as "jewelry", like the pinback photo button above.

Just after the turn of the 20th century, it was common to see photographs made into these buttons. I've had pinback photos of men, women and children - sometimes they are even hand-colored. They are usually of a single person, although I've had one very rare pinback which showed two young sisters. The children pinbacks are the most popular, and they seldom last long in my shop.

Pinbacks are becoming harder to find, and I buy just about every one I'm lucky to stumble across. They're a wonderful image to collect, since they are usually small and easy to display. The one shown above is a bit over one inch in diameter.

Below is a bit more unusual type of vintage photography known as a Mirror Back photo. They were popular during the 1920s, and were often used as gifts. I have a small collection from one family that shows several different daughters, the photos being taken around the engagement and wedding times of one of the girls. One of these mirrorbacks is shown below.

The wreath-style framing details added by the photographer are lovely - this mirrorback's style is classic 1920s, from her clothing and jewelry to the floral wreath used for framing the image. For those interested in historical information, the photographer's studio name and address are identified on the front of this mirror.

The mirrored back of this button is in excellent condition, showing good age in the glass. Often these mirrors are not found in good condition - over the years these buttons often ended up tossed into the backs of drawers or into sewing boxes, bumping up against all sorts of things that can cause breakage.

These different kinds of vintage photography are such a joy to own! They're inexpensive, one of a kind miniature works of art. If you find one, don't pass it up, for they are certain to be even harder to find in the future.

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