SIXTH PLATE AMBROTYPE OF MILITIA MEMBER IN COLONIAL UNIFORM WITH WIFE

$1,500.00

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Item Code: 1138-1884

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This ambrotype shows a man and woman seated, arm in arm, from the knees up. The man wears a full chin beard typical of the 1850s and dressed in an 1850s version of a Continental Army uniform of dark blue (likely) with lighter color turned back cuffs, lapels and falling collar, all with large plain buttons, along with a pair of epaulets.

A number of antebellum militia units adopted versions of the Revolutionary War uniform. Much of this was a desire to honor tradition, the fading generation of Revolutionary War veterans, or to give a unit the appearance of a pedigree. Some may have been induced by the Nativist movements of the 1840s and 1850s, spurred by fear of the waves of new immigrants. In any case, the uniform bears a strong resemblance to the that of the Putnam Phalanx, less perhaps a militia unit than a social organization, named after Revolutionary War general Israel Putnam and organized in late 1858 at Hartford, Connecticut, to serve as an honor guard for ex-governor Thomas Seymour on his return from duty as the minister to Russia. Given the number of other such units, however, including the Amoskeag Veterans, from whom the Putnam Phalanx got the idea of a colonial uniform, we cannot exclude all other possibilities, but the date certainly fits his uniform, hair style, and the woman’s dress and appearance. We should also add that this comes from the collection of late Virginia collector and dealer Bill Turner, so it is also possible we are looking at a member of a similar southern organization.

The image is housed in leatherette case embossed with a six-pointed star and floral motifs. The case is complete, but the hinge gave way and was repaired, and now needs to be redone. There is tad of solarization to some of the whites in the image, such as the woman’s hands and collar and the man’s shirt front, but the image is very clear and it is interesting to see a couple from the 1850s attempting to evoke a yet earlier period for the viewer. [sr] [ph:m]

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