Post Mortem Baby? - "Hidden Mother" - Cased Tintype Removed from the Mat

This is the tintype we bought yesterday with the mat removed. It was rather crudely cut down from a larger wet collodion tintype plate. You see that the so called "hidden mother" is not only covered by the paisley cloth but her face has been scratched out on the plate. We think that this supports the theory we have heard that most "hidden mothers" were actually assistants of the photographer who helped prepare the women and children for their photographs and held the children when needed. The theory of one photographic historian we met is that if it was the mother there would be no need to hide them and certainly, as in this case, to block out the face.


A close up of the baby, and a view of the back with the revenue stamp follows.

  • -Snapatorium- 4y

    How interesting about the hidden mother! I never heard that before.
  • Beverly PRO 4y

    -Snapatorium- I wish I could find the reference to the "hidden mother" likely being the photographer's assistant. It was at a symposium but I don't remember if it was PhotoHistory or the Daguerreian Society.
  • Digital Donna 9 4y

    Well if it isn't a post mortem, that baby certainly looks near death. Poor thing.
  • Jennifer Shiel 4y

    The baby shows clear signs of forceps marks on either signs of its head, which accounts for the head's odd shape.

    The "hidden mother" thing is interesting and I've not heard of it before. I'll have to do some research on it.

    It's hard to say if this infant's alive or dead, but my money's on alive, just going by the brightness of the eyes.
  • AngelwithTSW 4y

    i don't think it was forceps that made the shape of the baby's head so odd. i think the baby may have died from hydrocephalus. the top of the skull appears to be very enlarged.
  • Beverly PRO 4y

    AngelwithTSW I think you are correct. I find this photograph very sad.
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Uploaded on August 29, 2011
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