The Caretaker

This is the only pannotype in my collection and it is in excellent condition. Pannotypes were a bit of a trend between 1853 and the early 1880s. They were made by a method similar to that for ambrotypes. But instead of glass, a piece of cloth or leather was used as a support. What is interesting is that pannotypes were made by placing drops of a dilute solution of nitric acid in alcohol onto an existing ambrotype. This was done to allow the photographer to remove the emulsion (which contained the actual image) from the glass support and place this emulsion onto a new support, such as the piece of leather in this case.

I received this image as a gift from my good friend Charles Joyce in 2018.

The cut of the subject’s jacket, his raised collar & tie suggest to me that this image dates from the mid to late 1850’s. He has the furrowed countenance of a caretaker, in my opinion. However, the image came in a case that had a name written on the inside (behind the image) which was “Slocum Burling Briggs.” Using ancestry.com, I found an Ebenezer Slocum Burling Briggs (1825-1895), the son of Edward Burling Briggs (1783-1860) and Hanna M. Browne (1788-1861) of Mount Vernon, Westchester county, New York. In an 1849 passport application, E. S. B. Briggs was described as 23 years old, standing 5′ 3½” tall, with black hair, full forehead, grey eyes, aquiline nose, ordinary mouth, full chin, florid complexion, and a full face. It isn’t clear to me that this is the same gentleman but I cannot rule it out.

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