Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Old Photos

Old photos are interesting.  Photographs prior to 1900 were normally planned events.  No one had an Iphone or a selfie-stick.  Cameras were bulky and required a certain knowledge to use.  So, photography was something that one planned, or the photographer was trying to document a particular time, place, or event.

Old photos lend a certain credence to historical interpretation.  A picture is worth a thousand words, and I can study old photos for hours.  For example, this one, below.  It shows a fellow with a horse and saddle.  I stumbled across it this morning, and while I can't find the provenance for the photo, it has an air of authenticity, probably from around the late 1800s, early 1900s.

I notice several things.  First, the fellow doesn't seem to be wearing a belt to hold his pants.  He was probably wearing suspenders. Of course, belt loops didn't come into popular use on trousers until the 1920s.  Second, he's armed with a single action revolver, likely a Colt, and he's wearing his cartridge loops in the front. And, his trouser cuffs are outside his boots.  Interesting.  But, it's an undated phtograph.

The question comes up sometimes if cowboys wore their trousers tucked into their boots, and I've seen it both ways.  There does not seem to have been a hard-fast rule.  The fellow above has his boot tops inside the trouser leg.  Some photos from the time period survive, and this one, from the 1880s is quite interesting.  This photo purports to be members of Co B, Texas Rangers, taken circa 1880.

That looks like a well-armed posse, and some of those fellows are wearing their pants tucked into high boots, some of them have their pants outside the boots.   It seems to have been left to individual preference.

Sometimes, a photo is found that can be dated and placed, and a lucky fellow recently found this tintype.  Many believe it is a photo from New Mexico in 1878.  It shows a group of people playing croquet at a wedding party.

The lucky fellow that found this photo bought it at a California junk shop.  He's done the research and has located the cabin, and he believes that this photo shows William Bonney (aka Billy the Kid) and his compatriots just three years before his fateful meeting with Pat Garrett.

I notice that Billy's pants are worn over his boot tops.  Again, interesting.  If this photo can be authenticated, the guy who bought the photo in a lot of other images for $2.00 might have quite a payday.

Things like this fascinate the heck out of me, and involve a time period that many Americans like to study.


M. Silvius said...

Dapper dudes wore their pants inside to show of their fancy boots. Working men learned to wear them outside to keep debris and pebbles from falling inside their boots.

Old NFO said...

Riders also wore those outside their boots and under their chaps, at least from what I've seen. Only the townie pictures seemed to have pant legs inside boots, which would lend credence to M. Silvius statement.

Old 1811 said...

From what I've read, the Billy the Kid photo is authentic. If you compare the image to the only (other) known photo of B the K, it's obvious that they're the same guy. If I recall, the owner got several million dollars from his $2.00 investment. That's better than Hillary's pork futures investment!

daniels said...

It just depended on the environment.

Sometimes you wear them inside your boots to show off your kicks or, more often, to keep your pants from getting mud and such on the cuff from a muddy street, stall, whatever.

Of course, if you've got debris and such you're working around like dirt and straw or hay that might fall into your boot, you wear your pants outside your boots.