Top 10 Most Popular Historic Photos of 2014

top-10-flickr-2014A carte de visite of a Civil War era deep sea diver was the most popular photograph posted to my Flickr photostream this year. A review of the data in Flickr’s interestingness feature revealed that it led the next most popular image, four sergeants from Company G of the Sixteenth New York Infantry, by more than a two-to-one margin.

Nine of the ten most popular were Civil War themed portraits, or 90 percent. Civil War military men composed 80 percent of all images posted in 2014 (37 of 47). The other images were portraits of civilians and other non-military subjects.

The Top 10 of 2014:

1. Deep Sea Diver
Carte de visite by an anonymous photographer. An individual wearing a Morse Diving Helmet and an insulated suit stands in a photographer’s studio. A modern pencil identification on the back of the mount of this image names this diver as “Hyde,” and is associated with a tintype of a man in the uniform of a Union sailor. According to a previous owner, the sailor’s first name is George.
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2. Ranking Sergeants of Company G
Carte de visite by an anonymous photographer. The Civil War was two months old on June 24, 1861, when these New Yorkers left their camp in Bethlehem, N.Y., and posed for their portrait brandishing weapons and an air of confidence. 3rd Sgt. Luther Lee Partridge, 4th Sgt. Andrew Christie Bayne, 1st Sgt. John Henry Austin, and 2nd Sgt. Edwin O. Betts all served in Company G of the Sixteenth New York Infantry, and they had mustered into the Union army a month earlier at Albany. All four men resided in De Peyster, a hamlet located in the far north of the Empire State. Although each man held the rank of sergeant, none had yet received the chevrons that denote their rank.
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3. Among the First Union Officers to Occupy Richmond
Carte de visite of Patrick Tracy Jackson Jr. by Whipple of Boston, Mass. According to a sketch of his life, Jackson, “Accepted a commission as First Lieutenant in the Fifth Mass. Cavalry (colored). After spending some time in guarding rebel prisoners at Point Lookout, Maryland, the regiment was sent to the front, and was one of the first to enter Richmond.”
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4. Navy Man “Hyde”
Tintype in a carte de visite mount by an anonymous photographer. A sailor identified in modern pencil on the back of the mount of this image only as “Hyde” is associated with a carte de visite of a man outfitted in a Civil War era deep-sea diving suit, his head and face covered with a Morse Diving Helmet.
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5. Famed Master of the Cumberland
Carte de visite of William Pritchard Randall by Washburn of New Orleans, La. Randall’s obituary, published on February 22, 1904, in the San Francisco Call recaps his eventful life: “Commander William P. Randall, U.S.N., retired, died at his home in this city to-day, aged 71 years. Assigned as acting master on the frigate Cumberland during the Civil War, he participated in the battle with the Merrimac and was credited with having fired the last shot from the frigate before she was sent to the bottom. After the war he entered the navy as ensign and served in various capacities until 1882 when he was retired. During the Spanish war he served as executive officer of the receiving ship Wabash.
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6. Escorting Gen. Sherman on the Silver Cloud
Carte de visite of William Henry Hathorne by R.A. Miller of Boston, Mass. Maine-born Hathorne was appointed an acting assistant paymaster in the spring of 1863. Ordered to the Mississippi Squadron soon after, he served a stint on the Silver Cloud. Hathorne was present for duty on the vessel in January 1864, when the ship and crew carried Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman on a trip from Memphis, Tenn., to Vicksburg, Miss.
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7. Preserving the Honor of Lady Liberty
Carte de visite by C.M. Pierce of Leominster, Mass. Columbia, or Lady Liberty, sits atop a podium trimmed with material on which is painted or sewn stars and an eagle with wings outstretched. She holds above her head a liberty cap hung from a pole, the traditional symbol of freedom that dates before Roman times. She also holds the shield of the United States, which represents defense, military strength and nationalism. Lady Liberty is flanked by representatives of the Union army and navy. Each holds a staff trimmed with ribbon, to which is attached the Star-Spangled Banner. The flags are crossed to provide a backdrop for Columbia, who they have pledged to defend.
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8. Injured Union Cavalryman Flanked by His Comrades
Carte de visite by W.R. Phipps of Lexington, Ky. A federal officer with a bandaged foot sits with a pair of crutches. He’s flanked on either side by his comrades.
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9. Boy with Ornate Chair
Carte de visite by O.A. Taft’s Gallery of Middlebury, Vt. A young man with a slightly furrowed brow sits on the edge of an ornate chair with his foot perched upon a small stool. Visible behind the chair is the base of a brace, which the photographer or an assistant has wrapped in material to conceal its protruding iron feet. Iron braces were used during the early period of photography to hold an individual in place while an exposure was being made.
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10. Lost at the Battle of Mobile Bay
Carte de visite of George Work by Charles D. Fredricks & Co. of New York City. A Connecticut-born trader in his mid-40s when he joined the Union Navy, Work was assigned to the monitor-class ironclad Tecumseh and went down with the vessel after it struck an underwater mine during the Battle of Mobile Bay on Aug. 5, 1864.
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Top 10 Most Popular Historic Photos of 2013

top-10-flickr-2013A carte de visite of four Union amputees was the most popular photograph posted to my Flickr photostream this year. A review of the data in Flickr’s interestingness feature revealed that it led the next most popular image, a photographer with his camera, by more than a two-to-one margin.

Eight of the ten most popular were portraits of Civil War soldiers or sailors, or 80 percent. Yet Civil War military men composed only half the images posted in 2013 (36 of 72). The other half features civilians and other non-military subjects from the 1840s through the end of the 1860s, and includes daguerreotypes, tintypes and cartes de visite.

The Top 10 of 2013:

1. Union Comrades, Fellow Amputees
Carte de visite by Burnite & Weldon of Harrisburg, Pa. Four federal officers pose with their swords, and carry the visible effects of the human cost of war. Three of the men have suffered the amputation of the right arm, and the fourth the loss of a finger or fingers.
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2. A Civil War Photographer
Carte de visite by Jos. Longaker of Attica, Ind. A photographer stands next to his bellows style, wet plate camera equipped with a Petzval style lens. The lens cap sits atop the camera.
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3. Elderly Woman Wearing Glasses
Daguerreotype by unidentified photographer. A woman wearing glasses and a bonnet sits for the camera operator in this circa 1850 portrait. Her hair is streaked with gray, and the fine age lines on her face suggest a senior citizen. Resting upon a small round table covered by a blue-tinted cloth is her age-spotted hand, and the well-worn and possibly arthritic fingers of a hard-working seamstress or gardener.
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4. Seven Times Wounded at Gettysburg
Carte de visite of James Brownlee by Haines & Wickes of Albany, N.Y. Irish-born Brownlee served in the 134th New York Infantry, which at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg belonged to a brigade commanded by Col. Charles R. Coster. During the afternoon of the first day of the battle, Coster’s Brigade was ordered to support the crumbling federal right on the northern edge of Gettysburg. Soon after the brigade formed, the Confederate juggernaut descended on Coster’s men. The 134th was overwhelmed by advancing rebels on the front, flank and rear. More than half the regiment became casualties, including Brownlee, who suffered wounds from four bullets and three buckshot.
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5. A Union Sergeant Stands Front and Off Center
Quarter plate tintype by an unidentified photographer. A bearded federal sergeant wearing a four button sack coat over a dark shirt with no collar and knee-high boots is pictured in front of an elaborate backdrop. He holds a forage cap in his left hand and grasps the edge of his jacket with the other. He stands off center in the frame of this image, leaving the viewer with the impression that it may have been intentional. The empty space to his left may represent a missed loved one or friend, or a fallen comrade. The space may also have been the work of the photographer, who may have artfully posed the sergeant between the tents and foliage pictured in the backdrop. Or perhaps this soldier first posed with another individual before having this image made of only himself, and the photographer failed to adjust the camera or the soldier.
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6. A New Hampshire Mountaineer Wounded at Gettysburg
Samuel Bean Noyes by Kimball & Sons of Concord, N.H. Noyes (1842-1870) started his Civil War service in 1862 as a private in the Twelfth New Hampshire Infantry, a regiment popularly known as the “New Hampshire Mountaineers” for the sturdy, rugged soldiers in its ranks. Noyes had his baptism under fire at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. He and his Mountaineers, along with the rest of their corps commanded by Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles, moved a half-mile ahead of the rest of the Union frontline and were attacked by alert Confederates. Noyes suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder during the rebel assault.
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7. A Minnesota Colonel With Table Top Stereoscope
Carte de visite of William Crooks by Martin’s Gallery of St. Paul, Minn. William Crooks (1832-1907), the colonel and commander of the Sixth Minnesota Infantry, stands next to a table top stereoscope, likely made by Alexander Beckers, a pioneer photographer, artist, inventor and businessman in New York City. Beckers, a friend and competitor of photographer Edward Anthony, received ten patents for the stereoscope. Stereoview photographs could be viewed in 3-D using devices like the one pictured here.
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8. Full Dress Zouave
Carte de visite by J.B. Smith of Utica, N.Y. A Union soldier dressed in the elaborate Zouave style. It is possible that this unidentified man served in the 146th New York Infantry, which was raised in Utica and other towns in Oneida County, N.Y. The regiment wore Zouave uniforms during part of their enlistment.
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9. On “The Noxious Institution of Slavery”
Carte de visite of James F. O’Brien by McPherson & Oliver of Baton Rouge, La. Born in County Tipperary, Ireland, O’Brien came to America as a young man and settled in Charlestown, Mass., which was then a hot bed of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic sentiment. After the start of the Civil War, O’Brien began to organize an all-Irish regiment, but his plans were dashed when the U.S. War Department combined the six companies he raised with four non-Irish companies to form the Forty-eighth Massachusetts Infantry. O’Brien received an accepted a commission as lieutenant colonel and second-in-command of the regiment.
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10. A Navy Man with Gumption
Carte de visite of Benjamin Franklin Wood by unidentified photographer. Wood (1836-1910) had a long career in the U.S. navy. His obituary, which appeared in the November 1910 issue of Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers, tells his story.
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