The Posing Stand - For helping LIVE people hold still
The internet is full of false information about the use of the posing stand in 19th century photography. It was an aid to help live people hold still and was…
This is a 19th century trade card in our collection for laundry soap. See the head rest? Does it mean the crying baby is dead? DUH! Don't buy the the dishonest eBay sellers or clueless Pinterest posters label of photographs with posing stands as post mortems.
This is a 19th century trade card for James Allan, jeweler from Charleston, South Carolina. I understand the joke about the shackles on the subjects feet and hands and the neck brace but do not understand the scales and pointing finger. Maybe just to add to the joke about the posing stand being intimidating. Even this fantasy posing stand would not be enough to hold up a body.
This is a CDV in our collection. Are the boys post mortem? Of course not but the retouched eyes (they have blue eyes) and the base of a posing stand behind the standing boy are all that is necessary to place them on the numerous fake post mortem pages.
This is cartoon in our collection from Leslie’s Weekly, May 3, 1894 of making a mug shot in a Siberian prison. See the posing stand behind the convict? Is he dead? Of course not! The stand is to keep him in place while the exposure is made. If he was dead would they need to use handcuffs? Please be aware that every photograph on Pinterest of a person with a posing stand is ALIVE!
I am bending one of my rules to only post things from our collection. When I saw this delightful children's book cover on the University of Florida digital collection I thought "Look it is a post mortem of a kitten!" or at least that is what the "stands to hold up dead people" crew on Pinterest would say. I of course know that posing stands were only used to help LIVE people (or kittens) hold still.
This is a repost of an illustrations from a 19th century photography manual. Do you see anything that would hold up a dead body? Look at it. Imagine trying to hold up even a light person. DID NOT - COULD NOT! Please apply this knowledge to every post of a "body help up by a stand" that you see on Pinterest, eBay and the blogs. This is a myth started by dishonest eBay sellers and their clueless followers.
I continue to see photographs of live people identified as post mortem only because they show a posing stand. I again repeat "a posing stand is a guarantee that the subject is alive!" Posing stands were only used to help live people hold still. This is a post card from the early 20th century of Buster Brown watching a photographer take a picture of his dog Tige. It was a "magic" card because Tige would only appear after heat was applied.
I have seen this tintype from my collection posted on Pinterest as a post mortem. Why? Because the twin on the right has the base of a posing stand behind him. I have often seen a comment "If he wasn't dead why would he need to be held up by a stand?" One of the reasons I bought his tintype was because it illustrates so well the reason for head brace. The twin on the left has no head stand and he is slightly blurred because he moved his head.
I scanned this illustration from an 1891 issue of The Strand Magazine in our collection to comment on the "hidden mother" behind the chair. I am posting it here to point out the head rest to the left of the chair. Do you see anyway it can hold up dead people? Of course not! It was to help live people hold still and stay in place.
This is a detail from an 1887 Scientific American article on daguerreian photographic practices. Wow Two Head Rests! Does that mean that both mother and child are dead? Of course not! Actually if any thing made me wonder it would be the strange eyes on the child but I am sure it is only bad detail on the woodcut.
This is an illustration from a magazine of the period about an old farmer who is told by his family that he must have a daguerreotype made. You see the photographer's assistant adjusting a head rest, that is a posing stand, to keep his head steady. Was he dead? Of course not!
This is a four piece paper doll set that came with Lion Coffee in the 1890s. A boy photographer prepares to take a photograph of a girl sitting in a chair. She holds a kitten but the addition of a cape changes the pet to a little dog. Do you see the head rest/'posing stand on the left of the camera? Do you think the boy photographer is planning to photograph a corpse? No! it was used in every photography studio to help live people hold still.
This cartoon from our collection by Honoré Daumier shows a daguerreotypist on a Paris rooftop taking a daguerreotype portrait of a man in a crude posing stand. The caption translates "Position deemed most convenient to have a nice Daguerreotype portrait.". It is poking fun at the long exposures required to make a daguerreotype with a posing stand.
This is a Dutch chocolate trade card in our collection. See the posing stand behind the duck father? Does that mean he is DEAD? Of course not, The foul (not sure his species) photographer is using it, as did all 19th century photographers, to help Daddy Duck hold still.
I was filing some sheet music from our collection when I noticed the graphic on this one. It is from a 1905 musical, A Little Girl Like Me. Do you think His Honor The Mayor is dead? Of course not he is posing with a head rest to keep him steady.
This is another Victorian era cartoon from our collection. The subject stands with his head against a posting stand/head rest while he is instructed by the photographer where to took and not to wink. The joke may seem lame to us but it is not likely that the photographer would tell a dead person not to wink. (Wink!)
This is an excerpt from one of my favorite 19th century photography manuals A History and Handbook of Photography by Tissandier, 1877. Read how to use the head rest to help you client hold still for a few seconds and make sure the portrait is relaxed and not stiff. Do you see any advice about dead clients?
This cartoon from 1873 will likely not be funny to modern sensibilities. The punchline is long and convoluted but it shows a photographer and assistant preparing a nervous subject to be photographed. The head stand/posing stand is being moved in to place. Is he dead? No, dead people are not nervous.