Why So Serious?

stern-looks-detJohn Capewell (the man in the middle) has taken photos similar to this before where he’s managed to include himself in a picture of his immediate family, but I’m not sure why everyone is wearing such a sour expression. It’s particularly unusual for John’s wife Ella on the right. She is usually all smiles in these negatives. Here she reminds me of Agnes Moorehead in the beginning of Citizen Kane.

stern-looksHere is the entire 7″ x 5″ glass negative. From left to right is John, Jr, John B. Capewell, Ella and Henry O. I don’t know who the girl in the back is. She shows up in a number of these negative, and I assume she was a cousin.

Henry_OThis is Henry, John and Ella’s younger son. He hung onto these glass negatives for years until his passing. They then went to his wife, and then my father, and now I have them.


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!

Last Week: Family in an Overgrown Yard

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