Here we have a wonderful interior shot and probable self-portrait of John Capewell reading what appears to be a magazine. It looks like he carefully set up this shot posing himself just so by the window for what turned out to be an excellent exposure.
He either had his camera set up on a timer or let somebody else take the shot. It looks like he didn’t bother with the string he had used in a number of these negatives to remotely snap the shutter.
The entire 7-inch x 5-inch glass negative has a bunch of extraneous detail that Capewell probably meant to crop out, but it offers an interesting look at the inside of what was probably Capewell’s house in Westville, New Jersey. Outside of the sitting room or parlor looks to be a washtub or sink with a spigot over it. You can see the hint of a pipe running up the wall. So the house had indoor plumbing. I’m wondering if it was a laundry room. It makes me really curious as to the layout of the house.
The more I look at the detail section of this photograph, the more I suspect that this may have been the back of the house. That may be a screen door in the background, and while the room looks comfortable, it looks a little crowded to be a proper parlor. I’ll gladly take any guesses or suggestions in the comment section below the post!
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!
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