South Berwick Cadet Band (Framed collective photo of brass musicians in uniform)
South Berwick, NH: ca. 1880-90s. Sepia photograph, 7 x 9.5 inches. Housed in a presentation frame with a felted back secured with pins. The front is reminiscent of some of the brasswork frames/mats in old union cases of the period, but is probably from the early-mid 20th century and is in excellent condition. The photograph has a relatively inconspicuous wax droplet near the center and is faded along the left edge, otherwise near fine. To prevent potential damage, the photo has not been examined outside the frame.
20 men, a bit motley and at odds with their flamboyant Prussian-inspired uniforms. They appear to be posing for a different photographer, as indicated by their turned heads and the off-kilter aspect. A photographer positioned where most of them are looking would have a traditional straight-on shot of the band. There's also the gaping doorway to consider, where you can just make out a wall-mounted accordion coat rack and the blur of someone wearing a white collar around their neck--a woman or a reverend.
A search for the So. Berwick Cadet Band returned a regional blog SeacostNH.com report on a similar photo being sold at auction on eBay. The post is undated, but probably from the early 2000-10's. It doesn't disclose what the item fetched, but includes a close-up of the image that shows it's from the same session--and from a slightly different angle (see last product image).
The post cites Wendy Pirsig, historian (and widow of Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance): "The band received an annual stipend of $100 from the Town of South Berwick, she writes, to put on open air concerts in the 1890s. They were also likely among the welcoming bands that played when the survivors of the Greely party arrived in Portsmouth in 1884 after two years stranded in the Arctic."
A candid photograph, surprising to find elevated in such a frame--and pleasing to have evidence of the complementary image!
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