Monday, July 6, 2009

Vintage Beach Photos - 1880

This week's vintage photo is even older than the one I posted last Monday of the Beach Police from 1922! The information from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division titles this as: Men, women, and children in bathing suits on dock, sailboats, and in water; Frances Benjamin Johnston sits on edge of small catboat. From the Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection, it carries a created/published date ca. 1880. Don't forget, you can click on any of the images to see a larger version.


As usual, I am fascinated with the bathing suits worn in different time periods and this one is no exception. My curiosity was peaked as to why only one name was included in the description, so I googled her name and found the following information on Wiki:

Frances "Fannie" Benjamin Johnston (15 January 1864–16 May 1952) was one of the earliest American female photographers and photojournalists.

Oh, this is interesting I thought and read on. It seems Fannie came from wealthy, well-connected parents, was raised in Washington, D.C. and became an independent, strong-willed young woman. I knew I like Fannie right away. You can read her biography here, but I can tell you that she opened her own studio in 1895 and took portraits of Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, Admiral Dewey, the Roosevelt children and was the official White House photographer during the Harrison, Cleveland , McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt and Taft administrations. In fact, she took the last portrait of McKinley just before he was assassinated.

Usually when you view these old photos you don't know who the people are, so it is nice to see the young Fannie enjoying a day at the shore with friends and family. I love the outfit the lady on the pier is wearing; the striped dress with matching parasol. She looks so elegant, but I couldn't imagine wearing so much heavy clothing at the beach!

Next up are images from the New York Public Library Collection

Illustration from Harper's Bazar August 28, 1880.

The writing in the bottom left of this image reads: A Nice Family Party. I completely relate to this, I mean is there anything better than spending the day at the beach with your family?

Next up, lets take a closer look at those bathing suits. This photo taken ca. 1880 shows what was typically worn when taking a cool, refreshing dip in the sea. Can you imagine how heavy those dresses felt soaking wet?


And lets not forget the children! I think these are just adorable.


Left: Bathing costume for girl of twelve. 1883.

Right: Children's Seaside Costumes July 1888
Illustrations numbered (No. 7-9). Text in part: "No. 6 is seaside-dress in Turkey-red twill or serge for a girl of five years.No. 8 is a seaside-costume for a boy of five or six years." No. 9 is a bathing suit for child 4-6. From The Peterson magazine July 1888 (Philadelphia : Charles J. Peterson, 1842-1898.) .

Leaving America and taking a trip to France to see what they were wearing to the beach in 1880 I found this illustration, also from the NYPL Collection.

The Bathing Hour: Trouville (Salon of 1880)
Facsimile of a sketch from the original painting by Augustus George Heaton.

Now is it just me, or do the French seem to be doing a little more "cavorting" in the water than the Americans? I know this is just an illustration, as opposed to the 1880 photo in Washington, D.C., but most artists paint what they see or what they know don't they? Ooh, la la, those rebellious, frisky French beachgoers! (I like them.)

So, that's it for this week. Be sure to come back next week when I'm going to post more on the bathing machines you see in my sidebar. Bathing machines? Wha…? See you then!

14 Thoughtful Comments:

Sunshinemeg said...

I can't imagine having to swim in a dress. When I was younger and took swim lessons. There was a day they made you swim in your clothes - jeans and a tshirt. A dress though!? If it came over your head seems like it could cause trouble with so much fabric. I liked looking at those pictures.

And oh those French! Hope they remembered their sunscreen or they might be french fried....

It's Monday. Pardon the cheesy-ness

= )

The Quintessential Magpie said...

These are just wonderful. SO fun!

XO,

Sheila :-)

Rain said...

LOL true cavorting ha ha! I love that word.
That Harper's Bazaar photo is really neat, I actually was drawn to the big happy woman in her white "suit"!

Rhonda @ Shellbelle's Tiki Hut said...

I love the little girl in the upper left dumping the pail of sand on the gentleman on the bench. Made me think of the photo of me and my dad when I helped bury him in the sand in 1954.

I love that picture, I think I'll throw it on my sidebar!

RobinfromCA said...

Can you imagine wearing all those clothes in the water! No wonder they only waded and most of them couldn't swim - they would have drown! What a fun post!

Robin@Miscellaneous Thoughts

Beth Dunn said...

Great pics. I'm an old school girl at heart. Thx for sharing. xo

Joyce said...

What a complete hoot to wear one of these suits:)
Joyce

Tootie said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog. :-)

Your blog is great, with a lot of interesting topics. I'll be back to read more.

Maya said...

It is amazing what they were wearing then..., but in some countries like India for example it's happening still today (at least)for women..., that go swimming with all their clothes on. I love to see these vintage photos. It's really fun!

The Fajdich Times said...

The old time suits....what a hoot. Love your blog:)

Indrani said...

Wow! These shots!
Thanks for sharing.

Prospero said...

Hi, I'm from Bermuda. I don't know what the bathing suits looked like years ago, but it would be interesting to see. I should check at the library.

Here Under the Rainbow said...

The bustles and parasols do look elegant. I wonder...for practicality sake, how does one sit or even swim in it? Perhaps it is an equivalent to the bikinis and bathing suits worn today to just be seen by poolside?!

This was a most interesting read, thank you. I look forward to your next one.

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

So. Awesome.

Can't wait to see the bathing machines! :-)

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!

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