An Ambrotype of a Baby with a "Hidden Mother" with a Tiny Waist

At the Dagerreian Society trade show we purchased two tintypes and two ambrotypes.

 

When we picked up this sixth plate ambrotype we were struck by the size of the waist of the "hidden mother" holding on to the baby's neck. Could she have given birth to a baby of this age and retained a waist that size? Of course woman of this period got some powerful assistance from corsets but is that much possible? Might this be a lady assistant to the photographer instead of the mother?

 

The expression on the baby's face and the raised left hand (ambrotypes are mirror images) both show alarm or discomfort.

 

The ambortype is in an unusual octagonal thermal plastic case with a maroon velvet pad.

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Uploaded on November 2, 2011