Before I start, I need to make a clarification and/or correction. I’ve been living under a false assumption about these negatives and their photographer. It turns out that John B. Capewell is the photographer. Henry was his youngest son who was married to my Dad’s elderly neighbor. My guess is that Henry was hanging on to his father’s negatives. Henry died in 1988 so his widow inherited the negatives. Then she gave them to my Dad and here you have them.
There was an elder Henry Capewell who started a glass factory in South Jersey. I assume these Capewells were related since John and family seemed to be fairly well off at the time of these photographs. The family traveled and photography was not a cheap hobby. With this in mind, I will refer to this set as The Capewell Glass Negative Collection.
Thanks to Dan Love and his dogged internet research, we were able to find some information about the Capewells and put names to the faces. Below is a detail from the 1920 census showing John and Ella Capewell and the boys.
As more information surfaces, I’ll share it with you!
Anyway, back to the negatives…
If you were here last week, I wrote about how I came into possession of these wonderful glass negatives. When I first got them, I was less than enthralled. It was back in the 90s, and I thought that there was no way that I was going to pay a photo house a fortune to make prints from these things. There was still photo houses at the time using film and chemistry to make prints in darkrooms. So I put the negatives away and went on with the stuff of life like surviving Y2K, having a child, switching jobs two or three times and other such trivialities.
About ten years after I received them, I got curious about those old glass negatives. I don’t recall the exact circumstances. It may have been that I wanted to store them safely away and out of the way. I started to look at them. I may have quickly glanced at them originally, but I started to really look at them and try to figure out what was on them. Last week I described the process by which I photographed the negatives with a digital camera. Below is the first negative I shot.
It’s Niagara Falls frozen over. From the information I’ve managed to scrape together on the internet, The Falls froze over in 1911. The time feels right for the look of the clothing in the shots I’ve seen and from the information I’ve found on Capewell.
I was thrilled to find such a startling shot as a frozen Niagara Falls so I forged ahead and shot the rest of the negatives which I will put up here at Willceau Illo News! Stay tuned!
The Capewells went to Niagara Falls a number of times. Here are some shots from gentler seasons:
The Capewell Glass Negative Collection