In the thirteen years since arriving in Essex (or perhaps it’s only the twelve years since purchasing Rosslyn?) I’ve succumbed to a romantic-if-frivolous obsession with local and regional artifacts. Sometimes I’m fortunate enough to document firsthand relics from Essex yesteryear or Lake Champlain yesteryear. Other times I’m afforded a mere glimpse.
That cinematic snapshot above, as moody as it is patinated, falls into the latter category. Like a still from a crumbling film no longer visible. A phantom. A memory. Men aboard the steamship Vermont. Serious, contemplative, well dressed gentlemen (and likely a few imposters) recline or stand solemn on the forward, upper deck as they sail across Lake Champlain.
Who are they? Where are they headed? What is their occupation, their task, their conversation? Who is their haberdasher?!?!
We know only that the photograph, a detail from two images arranged in the stereoview below, was captured by S.R. Stoddard (circa 1870s according to the auction listing). Fading mementos of forgotten travelers. Worn edges and sepia-tinged souvenirs. Formal calligraphy on bright orange cardboard.
Sadly another bidder beat me to this treasure. But others will surface in due course…
Here’s the original stereoview.