This is the last of the series of people mainly reading indoors photographed by John Capewell. Although this is probably a posed shot and the book just a prop, studying this negative made me think of the very act of reading. All of the electric contrivances and digital time wasters that we have today did not exist. At the time of this photo in the first decade of the twentieth century radio was still experimental. There were plays and moving picture shows, but nothing could beat a good book. Books weren’t thought of as a chore or a boring slog to endure as a lot of people tend to think of them today. They were a a pleasure–a respite from routine.
We’ve seen this fellow before. I think he is Capewell’s brother-in-law, possibly Ella’s brother. He looks to be dressed in his Sunday’s finest and situated just so in the wicker rocker with the light streaming in perfectly for a terrific exposure.
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: Another Book, Another Woman