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Ambrotype of a Militia Regimental Band Musician with an "Over-The-Shoulder" Horn (anonymous photographer), c. late 1850's
Ambrotype of a Militia Regimental Band Musician with an "Over-The-Shoulder" Horn (anonymous photographer), c. late 1850's, American.
Incredible image of a young militia regimental bandsman taken shortly before the Civil War. His instrument is an "over-the-shoulder" horn, so-called because the horn was designed to have the bell lean over the shoulder of the player to project the sound back to the ranks marching behind the band.
Before the Civil War, local militia regiments competed with each other for bragging rights as to which drilled the best, had the sharpest uniforms, and the finest bands. This rivalry produced a demand for good players, and militia regimental bands offered a major source of employment for musicians.
The ambrotype's "Union case" is interesting in and of itself. In 1853, Samuel Peck, in partnership with the Scovill Manufacturing Company (a leading photographic supply house based in New York City) first introduced the molded thermoplastic miniature case for daguerreotypes, which Peck dubbed the "Union case."
Shortly after Peck's thermoplastic case hit the market, other manufacturers came out with their own versions of the Union case. These cases were made in a variety of forms, depicting in relief everything from classic floral scenes to dancing girls in risqué costumes. Patriotic themes were especially popular, featuring images of great American leaders like George Washington and Henry Clay and scenes from American history such as the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
A major rival of Peck and the Scovill Brothers firm in the manufacture of Union cases was Alfred P. Critchlow. In 1857, Critchlow sold his business and it became "Littlefield, Parsons & Company," the firm which made this Union case. Because this is the brand name on the case's paper label, we can date it as having been made between 1857 and 1866, when the firm changed its name to the Florence Manufacturing Company.
Height is 3 1/4 in. (8.2 cm.), 2 3/4 in. (7 cm.) width
This ambrotype is one of the clearest and cleanest we've come across. The image is basically flawless. Excellent + Condition.
Item # 2796
This item has been sold.
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All text and photographs © 2003 New York String Service
and may not be reproduced without permission.