Description: This original 1863 photograph depicts seven people dressed in costumes at the Albany Sanitary Fair’s Fortune Teller booth.
The photo was taken by Churchill & Denison’s Photographic Establishment of Albany, NY. The Albany Sanitary Fair was held to raise money for the Union Army during the American Civil War. A temporary building, called the Army Relief Bazaar, was erected in Academy Park and was filled with booths of various themes which all competed to raise the most money. There were booths for nationalities, like England, Japan, and Russia, as well as a Curiosity Shop, a Shaker booth, and of course, a Gypsy tent, which is where this photo was taken.
Photo measures approximately 8 ¼” x 6 1/8” on a 9 3/8” x 7 3/8” mount. Unusual in this format, usually one encounters the CDV format for these Sanitary Fair tableau photos. Inked notes on the verso and on a separate sheet of paper identify the sitters of the photo. The notes also indicate that this photo once belonged to Cuyler Reynolds, the former Albany city historian and son of Dexter Reynolds and Catherine Cuyler (pictured seated on the right).
The lists of people include Mary Parker, future wife of Erastus Corning (1827-1897); Cynthia Dexter, “daughter of George Dexter”; Dudley Olcott, “uncle of Robert Olcott”; Catherine M. Cuyler, future wife of Dexter Reynolds; Annie Cuyler Van Vechten, future wife of Dr. John Lefferts; and Cynthia Quackenbush. However, there is one too many females listed, and not enough males for the individuals to be properly identified. Item #AM00197.
Photo is unevenly trimmed at bottom and right margins, has an oval shadow from when it was previously framed, residue and soil at upper corners from previous mounting (no doubt this image was issued with a a paper mat affixed). Image has good contrast and resolution and with the appropriate mat it would be striking.