Railroad Cabinet Cards Featuring African American Subjects, circa 1900

Lot of 3 cabinet cards featuring African American subjects taken by itinerant railroad photographers, comprising: 

Horizontal studio portrait of a handsome couple wearing elegant clothes. Drum: N.p., n.d., circa 1900. Photographers imprint on recto notes, "Rail Road Photo. Car."

Studio portrait of a gentleman holding a guitar. Drum: N.p., n.d., circa 1900, with same railroad imprint. 

Studio portrait of an extended family with a couple, likely their six children, and a woman who is probably his mother (sitting next to the father). P.L. Britain: n.d., n.d., circa 1900. With imprint on recto reading: "P.L. Britain's Palace R.R. Photo Car."

Traveling photographers date from the beginning of the medium. Photographers visited camps and battlefields during the Civil War. As the lands east of the Mississippi became more settled, there were permanent photo galleries, and the itinerant photographers moved west to serve those growing communities. Oscar Drum (1860-1936) was born in Illinois, but he and his wife Lottie (1864-1946) and mother Harriet (1842-1904) photographed people throughout Indian Territory. One of his ads brags that he had more Native American photographs available than any other photo studio, men, women, and children. They would rent buildings, use the railroad car, or even set up a tent as needed to photograph people in remote settings, who like their more settled countrymen, still wanted their photographs taken. He seems to have focused on the rail car from 1900-1903.


Very good condition.

Estimate: $500 - $800
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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