Marital Mystery in an Old Photo

By Maureen A. Taylor

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Last week, Photo Detective Maureen A. Taylor shared how she helped Tammy Stevens investigate three family photos that she was presented by her Aunt Rose. This week, we’re revisiting the third photo, in hopes of identifying the couple in portrait.

Identifying family ancestors photos heirloom married couple

So who’s the couple in this framed portrait? Tammy Stevens think’s it’s her great grand parents Ed and Cora May. Before I look at dates a person supplies with a picture I date the evidence in the picture. In this case, that lovely dress with the wide white ribbon suggests it’s a wedding picture from the early part of the twentieth century. Not all brides wore full white dresses; instead accessories can
represent a wedding. The white ribbon is often found in portraits of the newly married. Bingo! Ed and Cora May married in December 1902. That’s likely date for this portrait. Cora died in October 1914.

Photographer or Copyist?

Most people can’t wait to see what might be on the back of their framed image. Occasionally there is a name on the back of a portrait so Tammy and her Aunt took the backing off of the images in hopes of finding additional information. All they found was the name of a studio and some numbers. “Deluxe Art Studio  225 North Green St. Chicago, IL” and written in pencil 4058 over a line, with a series of numbers (2474, 2475, 2476) under the line and 4 with a circle around it under the numbers. Deluxe seems to have specialized in either printing and/or framing images like this. A quick Google search for the name and address turned up other images in similar frames.

The family lived in Nebraska and Kansas, a long way from Chicago. That studio name suggests that someone was in Chicago around the time these copies were made sometime after 1927. They aren’t the originals. All were copied and framed at the same time. 4058 could be the order number and the three sequential numbers could refer to negative numbers. The 4 with the circle around it is the biggest mystery. Perhaps there were originally multiple copies made of all of them. Tammy has two smaller ones of the images which we examined last week, perhaps some of her cousins do as well.

There are only two things left to do: Find other cousins and figure out who was in Chicago. Oh yeah….find the originals. The small pictures that Tammy owns might be them. One clue is that she told me that the backgrounds in those little npictures is different. In most cases the originals are long gone, but you never know.