This week’s photograph looks like John Capewell meant to take a family portrait and either neglected to remove an exposed negative or was attempting a special effect that didn’t quite turn out. No matter what Mr. Capewell’s intentions were, it certainly turned out to be an interesting image.
The transparent adults in the background are Ella and John Capewell. It looks like John was going to insinuate himself into the shot by either setting his camera’s shutter up on a timer or through the use of a length of string as he had done in a number of these shots.
What’s nice about this shot is the homes in the background. The Capewells resided in Westville, New Jersey, and that’s where I assume this picture was taken, but I’m not sure. I’m hoping that some reader may recognize a house or detail.
Judging from the age of the boys, this photo was from the teens.
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: Christening Gown – Variation