“The Promiscuous Giving of Photographs:” 1888

 

A miniature photograph similar in size to the ones mentioned in the story. Her head is about an inch and a half high.

A miniature photograph similar in size to the ones mentioned in the story. Her head is about an inch and a half high.

The Latest Thing in Stationery.

One of the latest “fads” among the New York society youths is to have engraved at the bottom of their stationery, a small square, about the size of a postage stamp, in which they insert their own photograph, instead of signing the name. The pictures, when finished and ready for use, are just the size of a postage stamp, and are ordered by the dozens and tens of dozens. Some of them have the eyes, cheeks, lips and hair colored like the original, in which case they become very expensive.

It is hard to determine to what extravagance vanity will carry itself, but it certainly seems a great piece of conceit to deliberately paste one’s likeness upon every letter or note written to acquaintances. This promiscuous giving of photographs is a bad idea at the best. Among dear friends and relatives the exchange is always a pleasure, but when it comes to scattering one’s own pictures broadcast among mere acquaintances, it becomes nothing more or less than conceit. How can anyone be sure what will become of a likeness when in the possession of any but those who will hold it sacred?

It is almost sure to be placed in a row with a dozen others, or “lumped” with the collection and carelessly tossed somewhere in a heap, subject to the inspection and remarks of any who care to gaze at it. Photographs are a reflection of one’s own self, and it seems as if persons lose identity when their features are mixed up with a dozen others, not one of them able to say a word for themselves. Style or no style, the sending of a photograph instead of signing the name, shows a vast amount of self-conceit. Imagine the blow it would receive should the recipient of a missive chance to have forgotten the sender’s name and appearance—a thing which is by no means an impossibility. Toledo Blade

Times-Picayune [New Orleans, LA] 6 January 1888: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Plus ça change… Mrs Daffodil fears that no one heeded the timely warning of the author about the promiscuous distribution of photographs. One can only sigh and turn the page when one sees the hundreds of Facebook albums littered with self-portraits. Those who persist in flaunting these photographs invariably favour states of undress popular on French post-cards and pouting lips that would be stimulating to only the most hardened roué of an ichthyologist. And when one reads of adolescents and politicians caught in the distasteful practice of “sexting,” well, what will  become of a likeness when in the possession of any but those who will hold it sacred?

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes.

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning rituals gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

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One thought on ““The Promiscuous Giving of Photographs:” 1888

  1. Pingback: Tintype Girls: 1890 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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