Artifact Corner: Victorian Photo Album

Hi Everyone, and welcome back to another artifact corner. Today we will be looking at this beautiful Victorian photo album, probably dating around the late 1860’s. This is a leather bound photo album with brass fasteners to keep the book closed, and keep the pictures from falling out. This book has a beautifully marbled paper lining, along with heavy cardstock sleeves for the photographs. This particular album has slots for 48 photographs, and an index in the front of the album, so you can label the pictures. Let’s learn a bit more about photo albums, and the people the Delord family chose to keep pictures of.

The oldest photo album in the Library of Congress in Washington DC is from the early 1850’s. Photography was becoming more commonplace and affordable in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s. With the easier availability of having pictures taken, people needed ways to collect and keep those pictures safe. Pictures were often quite small. The photos in our album are 2 inches wide and 3 ¼ inches tall, slightly smaller than a modern business card, which was a very standard size in the 1860’s. It would be hard to frame such a small picture for hanging, so an album to keep them all safe was a good storage solution.

The album mostly contains pictures of Union Civil War Generals and commanders, local government officials, and prominent New York citizens. One very interesting exception is a photograph of “Albert, Prince of Wales,” the future King Edward VII of England. There are no other foreign dignitaries in the album. So clearly, American’s fascination with the British Royal family has a long history. Prince Albert was the second child, but oldest son, of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Upon his mother’s passing, he became King Edward VII in January of 1901. This photograph was taken on February 11, 1862 when Prince Albert was 21 years old. This picture was taken in Germany while he was visiting his future brother in law, Prince Louis of Hesse. The Prince wrote about the occasion in his journal: ‘before luncheon we went through the ordeal of being photographed by Mr. Albert and the result was very successful’. We are not sure why Prince Albert’s picture is included in the album, but it’s an interesting addition.

Our Album is in quite good condition. The photographs and the card stock holders are in great condition, as it the leather binding. One of the brass clips is missing, but the other one is present and still in good working order. This is a beautiful early photo album, and a glimpse into the Delord families interests, and we are so lucky to have it in our collections. Thanks so much for stopping by.

The following music was used for this media project:
Music: Sunny Morning by MusicLFiles
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