If you have been following this series of articles, I hope you’ve enjoyed our previous stories: Part 1: The Collector, Part 2: The Dead-End Road, Part 3: The Collapsing Barn, Part 4: The Cat Lady House, Part 5: The Garage Sale, Part 6: The Root Cellar, Part 7: The Parade of Chairs, and Part 8: The Followers. These stories are all about the shopping adventures that my family and I have had while out sourcing vintage treasures for our shop.
Join us on yet another vintage treasure hunting adventure in Part 9 of this series of articles…
The Cabinet Card
Have you ever been emotionally moved by a photograph?
I have. It was this photo cabinet card of Libbie D. Lloyd that struck a chord with me.
I found a large box filled with antique cabinet cards at an estate sale. I didn’t have time at the sale to look through all the photos, but I just knew I had to buy that box.
A few days after the sale, a friend and I were looking through each of the photos, making comments on the clothing and the overall look of the people in the photos. When I first saw this photo of Libbie, I had goosebumps on my arms and my hair felt like it was standing on end. I felt so incredibly sad and touched by her photo, but even to this day, I can’t explain why. I turned the card over to see if there was any information, and was surprised at what was written (see photo below):
from Libbie D. Lloyd
who died Dec. 7, 1898
age 9 years and 17 days
meet me in heaven
My friend was surprised by my reaction to this photo, and honestly, I was surprised, too. I couldn’t understand why I was moved by this photo, but it really did affect me in a strong emotional way.
When it was time for me to start listing these cabinet cards for sale in my shop, I took a photo of this cabinet card and listed it along with all the others. This photo sold almost immediately. While I am always thrilled when the things I have for sale find their way to a new owner, I was so sad that this photo had sold. I actually cried.
My husband and kids where in the room with me when I got the sale, and they asked me why I was crying. I told them Libbie’s photo had just sold (they knew how her photo had affected me when I first saw it). My husband told me I should cancel the sale and keep her photo since it meant that much to me. It sold on a Friday night, so I knew I had the weekend to think about whether or not to cancel the sale. I decided I didn’t want to upset a customer and continued with the sale – hoping the new owner would appreciate her photo as much as I did. I did get a message from that new owner after she received the photo – telling me she also had a strong feeling about the photo, and would treasure it forever. As mysteriously heart-wrenching as it was to let her go, I knew Libbie’s picture had gone to a good home.
When I find photos in a box like this, they are usually from the same family, so you can tell a lot about the people and their relationships just by the photographer listed on the card, and of course by the writing on the back of the photos – when there is writing there. I am always thrilled when the photos have names and dates written on them, as this information makes it much easier for me to research and learn more about the people in the photos. I usually do a search for the name using the date, and when possible – the city from the photo studio. This often returns information from past newspaper articles or genealogy websites where I can learn more. I also use Find a Grave to learn more about the people in the photos. This helps me a lot, as most headstones will have a spouse listed and often times children as well. The Find a Grave website also has information about family relationships, which is also very helpful.
When researching information about Libbie and the family whose photos where in this box, I found Libbie’s grave, and even posted her photo there. But I was surprised that there wasn’t much information about her family. Most of the other people in the photos from that box had lots of information about them – but not Libbie. I did receive a message through the Find a Grave website by a woman who thanked me for uploading Libbie’s photo – it ends up, Libbie was the woman’s grandfather’s sister, and they had no photos of her. I tried to get more information from the woman who contacted me, but I never heard back from her.
I still have no idea why this photo of Libbie affected me so emotionally, but I am glad to have had the experience and was happy that I could provide her photo (virtually) to one of her family members. I hope the customer who bought this photo from me still has it.
The Lesson? Do you have a stockpile of family photos tucked away somewhere in your house? If so, make SURE to write the names of the people in the photos, and the dates that the photos were taken! Someday, someone might come along and want to know about the lives of the people in the photos, like I do. It’s a great way to preserve and honor their lives.
There you have it! Another shopping adventure with my family. Check back for more stories in this series of articles!
Do you have a favorite vintage shopping adventure story? We’d love to hear it! Share the details in a comment below.