Friday, 27 December 2019

Rocking Chair Reader, ca. 1910

The young woman in this photo is posed with a book on a plain oak rocking chair. The book can't be identified, and the posture of the "reader" is not suggestive of either a captured private moment, or an attempt to recapture a moment of reading, such as we see in some of the previous photos I have posted. Likewise, while the oval inset croping of the image and the plain background suggests that the photo could have been taken in a studio, I imagine that the former could be requested when printing a negative and the latter is consistent with both the chair and the book, so perhaps this photo was taken at home.

The photo is printed as a real-photo postcard; the recto is well-thumbed (which is why I have cropped it out in the photos above and below); the stamp box on the verso is an "AZO"-type with triangle corners, pointing upwards. According to this site, this paper stock was used from 1904 to 1918. The chair in the photo has turned spindles and bentwood arms—although the legs are not visible, this is a style that was common on rocking chairs. Earlier chairs (rocking, kitchen, and dining chairs) often had pressed wood backs, as you can see here.

Although the plain, wide back of the oak chair has a bit of an early Deco look to me, our "reader" is wearing clothes that are suggestive of an earlier period. (Although long hair and high-neck shirts [without mutton leg shoulders] paired with a lace jabot or cravat were common from the late 1890s until at least 1915.) The binding style of the book was common from the mid-19th century well into the the 20th century, which does not help with narrowing down the date of the photo either.

All considered, there are no very strong indicators of date, location, or identity, and those clues that are present do not work together to offer any clue to the (fairly wide) date range indicated by the stamp box, thus the conservative dating above.

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