Morbid Fact Du Jour For February 3, 2016

Today’s Commonplace Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

During the first 40 years of photography (ca. 1840-1880), professional photographers regularly advertised that they would take “likenesses of deceased persons.” Advertisements that state that “We are prepared to take pictures of a deceased person on one hour’s notice” were commonplace throughout the United States. The prominent firm of Southworth & Hawes ran the following advertisement in the 1846 Boston business directory: “We make miniatures of children and adults instantly, and of Deceased Persons either at our rooms or at private residences. We take great pains to have Miniatures of Deceased Persons agreeable and satisfactory, and they are often so natural as to seem, even to Artists, in a deep sleep.”

The practice was sufficiently common that black mats, often decorated with floral patterns, were sold by photographic supply houses. Companies like the Scovil Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut, and the Mausoleum Daguerreotype Case Company of New York sold daguerreotype cases designed for “likenesses of deceased persons, and for sepulchral daguerreotypes”.

Here’s a post-mortem image by Southworth & Hawes:

Culled from: Secure the Shadow: Death and Photography in America


Morbid Twitter Feed Du Jour!

A special thank you to Kevin for letting me know about American Injuries – a collection of tweets from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System! ¬†Full of delights such as, “A 51-YR-OLD FEMALE FELL ON ARM YESTERDAY FROM TOILET FELT LIGHTHEADED ALSO USED COCAINE HEROIN CELLULITIS ARM.” ¬† Fascinating!

American Injuries

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