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Sixth Plate


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SKU: D16-239 Category:

“THESE 4 . . . are Step Sisters Pictures taken by T. M. Easterly, St. Louis” was the information copied from an original inscription. Each of the two sets of sisters were also identified and reproduced in the same fashion. From left to right on the bottom: “Anna J. Kihlberg when she was 12 years old wife of William Borchert” and “Cecelia Horn wife of George Hoffmann when she was 14 yrs. old”. Upper left: “Pauline T. Kihlberg sister of Anna when she was 17 years remained unmarried” and “Amelia Horn sister of Cecelia when she was 16 years wife of Aug H. Becker”. Casey and I have been examining the four girls. He has done the conservation on each of their sixth plates. The copied information from slips of paper found in the bottom of the thermoplastic case says that the dags were made by Thomas M. Easterly in St. Louis. He was first in that city operating a gallery at 112 Glasgow Row in March 1847. He left in August but returned to begin operations once again in February 1848 and continued producing daguerreotypes into the late 1860s. Red wax was used on the reverse of each of the four sixth plates. That method of securing the copper to a wooden block during the buffing process was discontinued by 1850. The plates were cut down in size from larger pieces of plate stock. They were bent inconsistently and yet none of the portraits were copies. The two older sisters were still sealed with very old paper tape. Each gal was taken from life. It is possible that Easterly, who during his long reign in St. Louis, generally used complete plates and bent his corners up on the four sides, had an operator who used the earlier style of plate preparation produce the foursome. Yet how would that explain the apparent differences in the subject?s costumes? The younger gals wore clothing more popular in the mid to late 1840s! Their siblings were fashionably dressed for the 1850s. The mats and brass preservers were definitely not used till the end of the 1850s at the earliest. After examining three examples without any plate maker?s impressions, the fourth revealed a ?SCOVILL MFG. CO. EXTRA?. That hallmark was first seen circa 1848 but wasn?t used beyond the mid-1850s. Anna?s image has swirling patina and her bouquet of flowers were tinted. Cecelia?s portrait also has oxidation, some white specks and black marks. Her jewelry was colored with gold and she held a rolled up piece of paper that was solarize. Amelia?s likeness has a dried water stain lower left and a few white specks plus pale patina. Finally, Pauline?s plate has black daguerreian measles, daguerreian frosting and broadly flowing tarnish. The scan showing the four gals in the thermoplastic case was done BEFORE conservation!

Richard Majka, a collector of fine daguerreotypes and a first class researcher conducted some detective work regarding the girls. If the birth dates are correct for each of them and the second or third generations inscriptions were accurate, a huge conundrum exists. The eldest sister, Pauline would have been taken circa 1853. Next oldest Amalie, was taken circa 1858-1859. Cecelia could also have sat in front of the camera circa 1858-1859. The youngest sibling, Anna might have been recorded on silver circa 1857-1858. So three out of the four subjects fall into the proper time period.

Here is the information Richard gathered:

?The four charming young sisters?Pauline, Amelia, Cecelia, and Anna–depicted in this grouping of daguerreotypes were raised in the thriving German community of St. Louis, Missouri, which made up over half of the city?s population in the mid-19th century. Louisa, the girls? mother, who was born around 1812 in the southern German kingdom of Wurttemberg, came to the United States at an early age and was first married to Peter Kihlberg, a Swedish immigrant. While living in Mobile, Alabama, she gave birth to two children: her son Frank in 1831 and her daughter Pauline in 1836. Soon afterwards the Kihlbergs left Mobile and set off for Caracas, Venezuela, where Peter had a lucrative business in the manufacture of fine furniture. But soon political turmoil forced Louisa Kihlberg to flee South America. Her husband remained, but died soon after.

Louisa sought refuge in St. Louis, where she felt at home among her fellow countrymen. One of the Germans was Charles W. Horn, who was born in the Grand Duchy of Nassau around 1816 and had come to the U.S. in his youth. This ambitious young entrepreneur established his cooperage or barrel manufactory in 1842 and soon turned it into a large, lucrative business. In the three decades before his death in June 1872 he was also involved in various other enterprises: He was one of the owners of the Becker Sugar Refining Co., a stockholder, director, part owner and superintendent of their cooperage department. He was also the organizer and first president of the German Mutual Life Insurance Co., and vice-president of the Washington Mutual Fire Insurance Co., and a director in both the Fourth Fire Insurance Co. and Broadway Savings Bank. A public-spirited individual, he served in the City Council during the sessions of 1856, 1857, and 1858, and was an energetic member of the Board of Health.

As can be seen, Charles W. Horn was an eminently successful man and he was able to support his family of six children?two sons and four daughters?in comfort and provided them with fine educations and the niceties of life. This affluence is revealed in the elegant dresses that the four girls are shown wearing in their daguerreotype portraits, which were taken in St. Louis around 1857-58. The two oldest girls, Pauline and Amelia, are dressed in dark, luxurious gowns typical of those worn by refined young women, whereas the two other sisters, Cecilia and Anna, still in their early teens, wear frocks more typical of adolescents.

Pauline Theresa, the oldest sister, was born, as mentioned, on March 7, 1836. She never married and lived over the years with her stepsisters, and then, after their deaths, with other close relatives, of which there were many. She outlived everyone in her immediate family, dying at the ripe old age of 98 on May 9, 1934, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Amalie Wilhelmine was born on January 4, 1843. On October 10, 1860 she married August Hubert Becker (1836-1903), who was raised in Bonn, Prussia. He was a noted artist best known for his portraits and paintings of animals and American Indians. The couple had two children?Ida and Wimer. Amalie Becker died on June 10, 1892.

Cecelia Nanette was born about 1844. On April 2, 1866, she married George Hoffman (1839 -1912), a butter merchant born in Germany, and the couple had six children?Hubert, Arthur, Carl, Julia, Elizabeth, and Annetta. Cecelia Hoffman died on December 12, 1886. Anna J. was born about 1845. She was the only sister who married an American, although William Borchert, a salesman born in Indiana about 1841, was likewise of German ancestry. The couple had two children?Alfred and Ralph. Anna Borchert died on March 8, 1923 in Highland, Illinois. Close in life, the sisters remain close in death, all four being buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.