Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tintype Photo: Guth Family Portrait (1884 - 1886)

This Guth family portrait is a tintype photograph and is one of the oldest photographs in the collection. It was previously believed there were few photographs available from this side of the family. This tintype and several others were located earlier this year in the photo collection of Frances Philomena Selker. It is simply remarkable these photographs have survived and that they are approximately 130 years old!

After locating the tintypes I engaged Gary Clark from to assist me. Gary is an expert in dating old photographs - tintypes being one of his specialties. He is estimated that the photograph was likely taken between 1884 and 1886. The studio props and background were typical for photographs taken in the mid 1880's. The ladies Victorian dress style with many button dates to the mid 1880's. The clothing of the man is typical for this era. His professional opinion was that this photograph was a family portrait of a mother with a daughter and a son.
Michelle M. Murosky: The Guth Collection &emdash; Guth Family Portrait
Original Tintype photograph with digital restoration
Armed with Gary's notes I went to work to estimate who the people were in this photograph. The original tin type is very dark. When I first lightened up the digital image it was very clear these people were related to my family. My paternal grandmother, Mary Eugina McDonald, bears a striking resemblance to the woman on the left. At this point I had a strong feeling this woman on the left was Frances Philomena Guth - her grandmother. The dates checked out and the woman resembled another photograph of Frances Philomea Guth that is from the mid 1890's. To view that photograph visit the blog post  Family Photo: Frances Philomena Guth and Joseph William Selker. There are some other photographs of Frances Philomena Guth's brothers at The man in the photograph has similar features and a similar face shape to photographs of her brothers.

The ladies in the portrait are believed to be Frances Philomena Guth (L) with her mother Theresa Loll (R). The man is likely a brother of Frances Philomena Guth. She had several brothers so this could be Joseph Guth, John Guth or George Guth. Frances Philomena Guth would have been between 21 and 23 in this photograph. Her mother Theresa Loll would have been between 49 and 51 in this photograph.

The family was one of the prominent families in Clarion, Clarion County, Pennsylvania in the late 1800’s. Leopold Guth owned his own jewelry and watch making business. The family’s prominence is demonstrated by the clothing the ladies are wearing and because they could afford to have their photograph taken. Some other details are also present - Frances Philomena Guth is wearing a large ring. Theresa Loll has a large broach at the top of her dress.

Michelle M. Murosky: The Guth Collection &emdash; Guth Family Portrait
The large ring Frances Philomena Guth is wearing.

Michelle M. Murosky: The Guth Collection &emdash; Guth Family Portrait
Theresa Loll is wearing a large broach in addition to the large cross necklace. She likely blinked while the photograph was being taken giving her eyes a ghost like appearance.
Tintype photographs have a unique mirror-like finish. This particular tintype was hand tinted to add color to the faces. The surface of the original contains many scratches. Some of the damage was able to be removed during the digital restoration process. Due the amount of damage some of the scratches were unable to be corrected and can be observed in the whitish looking appearance on the photograph. The full black and white version below showcases some of the additional details.
Michelle M. Murosky: The Guth Collection &emdash; Guth Family Portrait
Black and white version of the Tintype Photograph
This tin type and several others were included in the Frances Philomena Selker Collection. Frances Philomena Guth appears to have ended up with these photographs. She passed the photographs down to her daughter Frances Philomena Selker. Frances' daughter Mary Eugina McDonald ended up with her mother's photo collections which is time were handed down to me. Photographer Unknown. Editing and digital restoration by Michelle M. Murosky.

Theresa Loll is my 3rd great-grandmother. She is the mother of Frances Philomena Guth, my 2nd great-grandmother, Frances Philomena Guth was the grandmother of Mary Eugenia McDonald my paternal grandmother. 

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