Here’s a handsome fellow who decided to pose at the Kirby & Brothers Fine Art Gallery by of Carbondale, Pennsylvania, by lying down. This little dog is probably a poodle or a poodle mix, which made him unusual and special at the time this image was made.
William E. Kirby and John B. Kirby were probably the Kirby & Brother on the back of this card. William was listed in as a Carbondale photographer in the 1868-69 edition of Reilly’s Pennsylvania Business Directory. John appeared as a photographer in Susquahanna Depot, Pennsylvania, in the same book. At the moment, I can’t say for certain whether they had been working together but had severed the partnership prior to 1868. I do know, however, the William went on to become a merchant of rugs, fancy goods and furniture in Scranton in the 1870s, while John’s subsequent whereabouts are unknown.
Carbondale, 15 miles northeast of Scranton, played an important role in the early decades of the Pennsylvania coal industry. It was the site of the first deep vein anthracite coal mine in the United States, and by 1829 it was a terminus for the young Delaware & Hudson Railroad. Incorporated as a city in 1851, it was a city of immigrants: Irish, Welsh and German at the time this image was made. The individual or family who had this photograph made was almost undoubtedly well-to-do, probably a local businessman or, perhaps, a manager for a mining company or the railroad or someone from his family.
Just a reminder: cartes-des-visite, or “cdvs” appeared on the scene in the mid-1850s and were generally printed in multiples. They were originally intended as photographic visiting cards to be shared, and they are the first type of photographs collected into albums. Because they were contact prints (the negative was as large as the printed image), the resolution of these little photographs is often very high. It’s fun examining them closely, using a magnifying glass of some kind.