These photos come from Bert's wonderful collection of vintage photos and are my submission for this weeks Sepia Saturday.
Click on any image to see it larger. Believe me, it's worth it.
I have virtually no information about these shots other than some meager info about the photographer, George Steckel. At first I thought the name was Steekel looking at the rather confusing calligraphy. I have not found any biographical information about Steckel, but did discover the following at Google Books, Pacific Coast Photographer, Volume 2 published in February 1893:
As you can see from the back of the mounting boards, Steckel was the recipient of a lot of awards and honors. As to when these actual photos were taken there is no information given.
The few links for Steckel are to collections which contain some of his images, some of "famous" people such as this opera star in 1910, Claudia Albright. And here is a link to a woman, Mrs. Bob Kammey, in a stunning dress.
It seems strange that there is nothing substantial online about this man who won so many awards. I imagine he is referenced in many books that have yet to make it online. If anyone has any information or links to information I'd appreciate your update.
As to the subject of the photographs, well there is the real mystery. The name of the one lovely young girl on the left in the horizontal photo is Minnie Chopin Dunning. That's certainly a hard name to live up to. They appear to be a dance troupe, though the guys could just as easily be members of a circus in those costumes. Lion tamers? Master of ceremonies?
It's a shame nothing is available about this troupe. I put them out here on the net hoping someone someday finds them and sends along information about the lovely Miss Dunning and friends.
UPDATE: Thanks to a reader I now have some biographical information about George Steckel. Thank you Meri!
UPDATE: Thanks to reader Mark I can now add this additional information. Thanks Mark!George Steckel was born about 1865 in Pennsylvania. He was married at least twice. I haven't learned the name of Wife 1, but they had a son John Henderson Steckel who died in infancy January 21, 1901.Wife 2 was named Evangeline. Evangeline's maiden name may have been Buck, as there was an obit for Florence Jane Buck, mother of Mrs. George Steckel, in L.A. in 1912. George and Evangeline were married in about 1905-06. She was born about 1875 in Illinois. By 1910, they had a son George Steckel, Jr. He was killed in an accident in Yellowstone in 1933 -- apparently with a friend because there was a similarly worded accidental death obit for another young man who died in Yellowstone on the same day Steckel, Jr's obit ran. Evangeline and George also had a daughter Margaret about 3 years after George, Jr. was born.George himself appears to have died September 22, 1938 in Covina, California. No cause of death was listed in the obit.
Edward Weston worked in Steckel's studio around 1908-09 before moving on.I agree with Mark that it would be fascinating to see more about Weston's work with Steckel.
It'd be interesting to see images from this studio around that time frame to see if any were Weston's work.