Two Young Men by Jacob Byerly

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These two cartes de visite are probably my earliest examples of the work of Jacob Byerly, Frederick, Maryland’s earliest and most well-known photographer.

The unidentified young men in these portraits may have been soldiers; the vignette style that shows just the head and shoulders makes it difficult to identify their clothing. But bearded and sunburned, these two hale young men in the prime of their lives may, like many soldiers, have had their portraits taken at Byerly’s Market Street studio when passing through Frederick in 1862 (South Mountain, Antietam), 1863 (Gettysburg), and 1864 (Monocacy) during the Civil War.

They could also have been among the 9,000 or so soldiers who convalesced in Frederick after being wounded in these battles.

Ross Kelbaugh’s directory dates cartes de visite with this imprint to before 1866, when Byerly took his son J. Davis Byerly into the business. Since these photographs don’t have revenue stamps, we can be confident they were taken before 1864.

The simple three-line imprint and gold double border lines support this early dating. William Darrah places the double-border style to 1861-1869, so I’m going to guess that these date from sometime between 1861 and 1864.

William Lincoln Cover

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This cabinet card photograph may be a portrait of Baltimore photographer William Lincoln Cover. The words “Cousin Will Cover” are penciled on the back.

Born 5 Jan 1844, William L. Cover grew up in Frederick County, Maryland. The son of prosperous carpenter Frederick Cover, William attended Emmitsburg Academy. According to a brief biography published in the Baltimore SUN in 1900, Cover set up as a photographer in Baltimore about 1872. The 1870 census for Baltimore city has Cover listed as a photographer, boarding in the home of an elderly lady named Anna Rose.

He ran on the Democratic ticket for the State House of Delegates for the Third District in 1899 and was elected.

I haven’t found a date of death, yet, but letters of administration for the estate of William L. Cover were granted to his wife Susanna Cover in April 1903. Their home was at 304 N. Stricker Street, and his studio was located at 754 W. Baltimore Street.

I have a Cover carte de visite with a different studio address, 560 W. Baltimore Street, whose simple imprint Darrah suggests dates to anywhere from 1868 to 1882; according to Ross Kelbaugh, Cover’s studio was located at 560 W. Baltimore from 1868 to 1886 and 754 W. Baltimore from 1887 to 1903.

He is dressed formally in a Victorian tailcoat and white wingtip shirt. Elaborate advertising graphics on the reverse feature a Greek theme. He may have had this formal portrait taken for his campaign ca. 1899.

“Barbara Fritchie’s Home,” J. Davis Byerly

This carte de visite sold by Frederick photographer  J. Davis Byerly depicts the home of the mythologized Civil War heroine Barbara Frietchie. Frietchie and her home became famous after John Greenleaf Whittier published his eponymous poem in the Atlantic Monthly in 1863.

According to the Maryland Online Encyclopedia, Frietchie’s home was destroyed in an 1868 flood of Carroll Creek, and not rebuilt until 1927. This photo had to have been taken prior to the flood.

The photo is identical to the one used on a similar souvenir carte sold by J. Davis Byerly’s father and founder of their Frederick studio, Jacob Byerly. Collector Gil Barrett allowed Maryland photography historian Ross Kelbaugh to reprint an image of the carte in Kelbaugh’s 2001 article on Byerly and Frietchie for the Daguerreian Annual in 2001.

There is a difference in the prints. This print appears to contain areas of damage in the upper lefthand corner. Since the damage is not to the print, it must be to the negative. Byerly, who took over his father’s business in 1868, must have continued to make prints from the same negative his father had used.

Whittier’s poem turnedphotographs of Frietchie’s Frederick home into lucrative tourist souvenirs after 1863.

Thanks to what we know about the destruction of the house and the Byerly business, we can safely date the photograph here to the period 1863 to 1868, but the carte itself could have been sold anytime between 1868 and 1899, when Charles Byerly, son of J. Davis, took over the business started by his grandfather in 1842.