Here’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.
I 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.
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!