Sleigh Ride

sleigh-ride-detailHere’s a snowy self portrait of John B. Capewell along with an unidentified companion seated in a sleigh. Capewell is seated on the right. It looks like the photographer set up his camera, hopped back in the sleigh and is releasing the shutter with a length of string as he has done in some of the other photos.

If you have been looking at the photos in this series, you’ll notice something unusual in the photo. Capewell who is usually clean shaven has a mustache in this picture.

sleigh-ride-det-2I doubt that this was shot in South Jersey. If you look at the entire 7″ x 5″ glass plate, you’ll see that the terrain is sort of hilly. Gloucester County, where the Capewells resided, is fairly flat.

sleigh-rideSadly, there’s probably no way of identifying where this was shot. Wherever it was, it looked to be glorious terrain for a sleigh ride.


About The Capewell Glass Negative Collection

The Capewell Glass Negative Collection is a series of about 200 5-inch by 7-inch glass negatives shot early in the 20th Century by John Batt Capewell (1878-1951) of Westville, New Jersey. John passed the negatives down to his son Henry who left them in his wife’s possession upon his passing. Henry’s widow didn’t know what to do with them and didn’t particularly want them so she offered them to my Dad who couldn’t turn down anything. Ultimately I wound up with them and thought I would one day have photographic prints struck from them. That didn’t happen, but I came up with the digital workaround of placing the negatives on a lightbox and rephotographing them with a digital camera. The “processing” was then done on a computer with image editing software. Many of these pictures have not been seen in a century, and I’m proud to be presenting them today.

At first, I did not know who the people were in the photographs. I have a box of ephemera that accompanied the negatives and snagged a few clues from that as far as the Capewell name. I did some research on the internet and had a few false starts and wrong turns, but the readers of these posts have provided a remarkable amount of research and detail. I’m amazed at what people have turned up sifting through public records and such!

This story continues to evolve. Every Thursday, I will post a Capewell picture or two. If you recognize a person or place in one of the shots or just want to drop a line, feel free to comment!

Last: Washington Park upon a Frozen Delaware River

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4 Responses to Sleigh Ride

  1. Jerseyman says:


    I am going to hazard a guess here. In the fall of 1917, John B. accepted a position with the Spring City, Pennsylvania (Chester County) glass works. He returned home to his family in January 1918 and reported three feet of snow on the ground in Spring City. In the photograph, John also looks a bit more mature, so I am thinking he shot this photograph in the Spring City area of Pennsylvania in late 1917 or early 1918.

    Best regards,

  2. Joe_Williams says:

    Wow! Thanks, Jerseyman!

    Is this information from old newspapers?

  3. Jim Bessing says:

    Funny! before I read jerseyman’s comment I said probably Pa. Lucky the horse held steady. Not only is a dog man’s best friend.

  4. Joe_Williams says:

    Yes, Pennsylvania seems pretty likely. Thanks for commenting, Jim!

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