John Pulls the Strings Again

John-pulls-the-strings-again-detHere’s another picture similar to last week’s where photographer John Capewell inserts himself as part of one of his photographs by triggering his camera’s shutter via the string he is tugging.

I’m don’t know who the women are to the left of Capewell, but the woman with the serene smile to the left of them is John’s wife Ella. Both John and Ella look fairly young in this photo, and I wonder if they were courting yet to be married. There may be a ring on John’s blurred left hand. It’s hard to tell.

The gentleman to the far left is John’s brother although I’m not exactly sure which one.

John-pulls-the-strings-again-det2Here’s a detail portion where of John and the ladies. As I’ve gone through these century old glass negatives, I’ve been struck by Mrs. Capewell. She makes me think of the character in Richard Matheson’s fantasy novel Bid Time Return which was turned into the movie Somewhere in Time starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve. In the story a modern man becomes obsessed with an actress in an old photograph and wills himself back in time to meet her. Ella may not look like Jane Seymour, but she was pretty and there is something sort of modern looking about her despite the early 20th century clothing. There’s a sly sense of humor about her. She was probably a lot of fun. John Capewell was a lucky man.

Here is the entire 7 inch by 5 inch glass negative:

John-pulls-the-strings-againI assume it was shot somewhere in Southern New Jersey possibly Westville which sits on the Delaware River across from the then teeming metropolis of Philadelphia.

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. They came out better than I thought they would so I thought I would show them off to the world on this site. 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!

DSCN1412-negLast: John Pulls the Strings

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