Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Accept Your Fate: Post-mortem Ebay Finds (from COILHOUSE BLOG)

Ebay has been a great source of vintage photos and daguerreotypes for years. A haven for those interested in ghostly figures gazing out of time-worm scenes from over a hundred years ago, it’s still got it! This listing features an interesting group portrait - an entire family gathered merrily around a dead girl curled up with her favorite toys. From the description:

This is one of the strangest photos I’ve ever seen. And I can’t believe it’s a post-mortem, what with the smiles on some of the family’s faces. I think it must be a joke of some kind. I really think they’re kind of mocking the post-mortem ritual of showing a deceased child with their beloved toys…but I could be wrong.

I’m not an expert, but I have done my share of googlative research, back when I was still in the stuffing-my-place-to-the-brim-with-vintage-ephemera phase. While this photo is a bit unusual in terms of how many people are gathered around the body, the rest adds up. Children were usually pictured with their toys and family members in post-mortem shots. Really, this photo weirds me out far less than, say, this one:

Imagine being 7 and asked to pose with your dead brother. Guhh.

While I find the Victorians’ acceptance of death as part of life healthy [even if forced by the high death rates of the time], the concept of propping up a corpse to look life-like still gives me the stomach-churnies. However, this doesn’t stop me from continuing to adore post-mortem photos, in all their absurdity!

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