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Posing stand often attributed to Post Mortem Photography

In Photographs > Tintypes > Show & Tell and Victorian Era > Show & Tell.
Tintypes115 of 241Ceramic Figurine displayed in tintypeTintype of Young men with a SKULL displayed
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    Posted 8 years ago

    (949 items)

    Here is an 1880- 90s tintype that clearly shows a posing stand.

    In recent years a myth has developed online that attributes these stands to the specific use of posing post mortem subjects.

    THERE IS NO BASIS IN FACT in that story!

    A cursory examine of a typical stand will show that it could not support the body weight of even a child. These stands were used to assist in holding the subjects head STILL during the photographic process.

    In my 20+ years of collecting/ selling, I have NEVER seen a standing post mortem; and I examine over a million antique images every year.

    Additionally, I have seen less than a handful of full upright sitting post mortems.

    Don't fall victim! Educate yourself BEFORE making a purchase.


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    1. Jewels Jewels, 8 years ago
      Thanks for sharing that Scott. Learned something interesting.
    2. scottvez scottvez, 8 years ago
      Thanks for looking and commenting jewels.

      Here is an example:

      Photo is actually worth a couple dollars, but advertised as a pm it brought $35!


      This $1 photo brought $20!

    3. Jewels Jewels, 8 years ago
      Scott, this is really something--I see the stand and how the rumor started. Good of you to spread the truth :) I will tell my friend about this--she collects old photos
    4. Kydur Kydur, 8 years ago
      Scott, I had not realized that such a post mortem rumour was even out there! Perhaps as an avid photo person myself - mostly on the darkroom side - I always presumed it was common knowledge what these braces were for; but then the passage of time brings new generations that are unaware of such things and make up new stories - such is the method of rewriting history (and con artists) I suppose!

      In addition to the information you supplied in your description I think it's also useful to point out WHY these braces were even used in the first place. Yes, it was part of the "photographic process" - but why isn't it part of the photographic process today?!

      In the early days of photography the film they used was a much slower speed then what people alive today who remember using film ever used. This just means that the film wasn't as sensitive to light and required much longer exposure times - upwards of a minute or more; studio photography was especially difficult with long exposures times when combined with the lack of modern lighting and flashes like we have today.

      So these braces and posing tables were used to help people stay still during the long exposures, and even then you'll often notice some blurring in old photos... usually the hands (like in the first eBay link Scott provided). It's also one of the reasons attributed to people not smiling in the early photos - try and hold a "natural" smile (or any spontaneous pose) for a minute or more without looking goofy! In a letter to the Sacramento Daily Union, Mark Twain wrote, “A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever.”

      More information, with pictures of the braces and posing tables:
    5. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 8 years ago
      Great info for those of us purchasing old photos. Thanks for sharing that. I love this one to by the way.
    6. scottvez scottvez, 8 years ago
      Thanks for looking and commenting kydur and passion.

    7. racer4four racer4four, 8 years ago
      Great photo and post thanks!
    8. scottvez scottvez, 8 years ago
      Thanks much racer-- I appreciate you looking and commenting.

    9. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 8 years ago
      Good info, I haven't bought a Post Mortem yet, but conceivably will and I'll have this little gem of knowledge tucked away.

    10. scottvez scottvez, 8 years ago
      Thanks for looking and commenting chris.

    11. scottvez scottvez, 7 years ago
      Thanks much ted and cultcha!

    12. toomuch, 6 years ago
      The one official Billy the Kid tintype has a stand behind Billy to hold him still. It could be handy to have since "The Kid" was drunk much of the time and may have needed help standing straight and still long enough to get a photograph, in any case, he certainly was not dead.
    13. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
      Thanks for looking toomuch.

      Postmortem photography is a minefield online-- lots of bogus attributions and misinformation as you probably understand ("The boy surely is PM.")

    14. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
      Someone paid $16 for this post mortem:

      Only problem-- nothing in the photo would suggest that he is dead! I guess the posing stand did it.

      It is a poor condition image that shouldn't have brought $1.

    15. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago

      "Post mortem cdv of a little girl; notice the "cadaver stand" keeping her body up, kind of like a doll stand. Sad."

      What is really SAD is that some folks believe the child is dead and the posing stand is actually a "cadaver stand"!


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