The FINE LADY at Duchochois and Klauser

Yesterday was a fine day to be at the flea market. First I found a children's book I used to have. I had forgotten about it until I saw the images and then one of those warm comforting memory flashes overcame me. I soon parted with one dollar.

I would have been content to call it a day with my one find. It was a busy day at the market with lots of food sellers, tool sales, brightly colored toys, and piles of used clothing. I wasn't hoping for much. And then I saw a bin sitting on a table with envelopes sticking out. I zeroed in. Then I smiled. It was a plastic bin of photos.

The down side is that a lot of the photos are damaged, badly damaged with mold. I decided before diving head first into this murky mess I'd ask the seller what he wanted. He said, "Ten bucks."

I stared back from behind my dark sunglasses and stupid ugly sun hat, "For all of it?"


"Including the box? Do you want to keep the box?"

He shook his head and waved me off as much as saying, "Get that thing out of here."

Ten bucks appeared from my big wallet, not my flea market purse. I had to go deep for this one.

So then began the laborious task of sorting the photos by damage. There are well over 400 photos, some old postcards, some interesting letters, an old address book, a sweet little photo album from the turn of the 20th century, and some personal papers for a woman who was a teacher. In fact I believe this collection of mish-mash belonged to either her or her son. Someone even did some genealogy work which was also included.

I threw away probably about a dozen images. Others needed cleaned with q-tips and alcohol. None of the damaged ones are of real emotional or visual value, so it does not upset me to see them in precarious condition. They have now all been sorted and put into separate envelopes, the moldy ones far from those that are pristine. Just because some are moldy doesn't mean they're useless, such as the one below.

This photo, badly faded, of a woman in a stunningly bulky outfit was taken at the studio of Duchochois and Klauser which was located at 630 Broadway, New York.

Click on images to see them larger.

I'm not finding any biographical information about either photographer, but they did run the following small ad in the New York Weekly Review, Volume 13 in 1862. If you Google their names you will find some of their work in various archives around the country. You can see other work here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here is one for sale. And you can click here to see a page of photos, only one by Duchochois and Klauser, of Mrs. H. S. Wilson.

Sadly there is also no information about this woman. The coat fascinates me with the fan pattern on the sleeve. It all appears to be a bit too much, but I'm imaging for her day she was quite stylish. Imagine heading off to work these days carrying your laptop in its case slung over your shoulder. To say nothing of fitting this entire ensemble into your cubicle.

And just to add a little link to the past posts I did over a week ago, we can see that at some point someone did a little hand tinting to the lady. Her cheeks, lips, flowers around her bonnet, and for some reason a white spot on her forehead. She looks quite Christmas-y.

All of these images for less than 3 cents each. Yes, it was a good day at the flea market.


  1. Oh what a find. If I had been there I would have bid the price up and given you a run for your money. Never mind, I am sure you will share your treasures via your blog posts

  2. Oh Alan, I looked so scary with the dark glasses and looney hat that I don't think anyone would have come between me and the box. But yes, the good, the bad, and the ugly will get posted.

  3. I love the idea of a box of unknown photos. great buy!
    I'm not scared off by dark glasses and a looney hat. I might have tried to outbid you too.

  4. just photos, no paper dolls? hmph.

  5. Oh but yes, doesn't she look like a paper doll?

    It was a bit like going to a fair and buying a box neatly wrapped with a large question mark on the outside. I really had no idea what I was buying. I'm just happy I didn't dig in and end up kicking myself and screaming, "Why did I waste ten bucks for this?" It was a joy to find enough items to make the purchase worthwhile.

  6. And Linda, you are right. A bit of false advertising with that big "DOLLS" on the side. One can only wonder what used to be kept in the bin. I salivate at the thought.

  7. truth be told, this photo beats all. the costume on this woman is fantastic, reminds me of Little Women illustrations.

  8. It looks like the coat collar and muff are ermine. I'm trying to imagine how many colors were going on here. And then the little painted face. There's a story behind that painted face. Was it done by her? Did I child do it? Was it done long after she was gone? I'm guessing this is close to 150 years old so she, like the old paper doll I have, have passed through many hands to end up in mine.

  9. Excellent find! I'm anxious to get to my next flea market now! I'm feelin' lucky too!

  10. Anonymous7/15/2011

    How cool! Dont throw away the moldy ones! If you dont want them give them to meeeee. haha. I found since I live in the desert if I let moldy pics sit out in dry air or paper items, it dries and then becomes like a powder dust and I use a rag and can wipe some of it away. Now Im itching for a flea market, what a great find and a steal of a price!

  11. Sorry not to have been around for awhile - broadband connection problems, Grrrrr!

    What a luck find and just ten bucks. Amazing!

  12. Peter C. Duchochois and William Klauser operated a studio in partnership until August, 1863.
    If I'm not mistaken their partnership lasted just 2-3 years.

    I've included a scan of a newspaper announcement here in the comments area:


    This is the only CDV I have from this studio.

    I don't have the info with me right now, but I remember their census records indicated that Peter Duchochois came from France and William Klauser was originally from Prussia.



  13. Jim, thanks for the comment about this studio. It's nice to have the information to go with the photo I have.