Anonymous Stereoview of West Baltimore Street Photographer’s Studio

This stereoview of the 100 block of West Baltimore Street has no publisher’s or photographer’s credit. Its value lies in its depiction of a photographer’s studio and gallery.

The studio skylight, and even displays of photographs in display windows, can be discerned just to the right of Neal’s Dry Goods. George H. C. Neal and Son, Dry Goods, occupied 99 and 101 West Baltimore Street at Holliday Street during the 1870s. The E. M. Cross & Co.Baltimore City Directory for 1863-1864 has an ad for George H. C. Neal’s dry goods establishment at 97 West Baltimore Street.

Palmer Lenfield Perkins, “photographist,” is listed in Woods’ Baltimore Directory as early as 1858-1859 at 101 West Baltimore Street. Perkins  occupied this or nearby premises, including 103 West Baltimore,  through 1881 at least.

Another photographer, Charles P. Lusby, occupied 103 West Baltimore in 1880.

William C. Darrah’s The World of Stereographs offers a system for dating stereoviews, based on the type of mount and print. I do not have the skill and experience to date the card. The mount is relatively thin; the print surface lustrous, indicating albumen. This suggests an earlier rather than a later date.

Based on the presence of Neal’s Dry Goods and directory listings for photographer P. L. Perkins, this view could have been taken as early as the 1860s.

If you can help pinpoint the date of this view, please let me know.

Charles P. Lusby, Tintype Photogapher

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Charles P. Lusby operated a photography studio at 127 West Baltimore Street from 1872 to 1875. (The block between South and Calvert streets became East Baltimore Street after street renumbering in 1887.)

This perfectly conventional tintype, composed in the style of cartes de visite of the 1870s–fake pillar, now with one of the new painted backgrounds–reflects the vast output of photographs during the Civil War and post-bellum period.

Tintypes (actually black or chocolate brown japanned iron), invented in the U.S. in the 1850s,  became popular during the Civil War as a more durable and cheaper alternative to the ambrotype and card photograph. Special cameras with from four to 36 apertures made it possible to make multiple exposures simultaneously on a single plate.

“The card photograph,” says photography historian Robert Taft, “was the favorite form of photograph for the soldier boy to leave with his family when he departed for camp.”

But “the boy in camp found that these tintypes would stand the vicissitudes of the army mail service far better than card photographs or ambrotypes” (Taft, Photography and the American Scene, 159).

After the war, says Taft, “A class of operators grew up who developed galleries which made the tintype their specialty” (163).

Born near Chesetertown, Kent County in 1843 to farmer Charles Thomas Lusby and Mary Araminta Boyer Lusby, Charles Lusby  killed himself in the home of his brother-in-law, S. Rowe Burnett,  in May 1889.

The article published in the SUN says that although successful in his business, Lusby had been sick and depressed. He left a wife and three children.

Lusby first came to my attention as part of my research into the Summers-Gaither family album. The album includes a portrait of Allen Lusby. Although several Lusbys appear in the Summers-Gaither family tree, it’s not yet clear how the Lusbys are connected to them.