mulattoes captured

Not like this:

But like this:

1850 portrait of a mulatto woman

J.P. Ball quarter plate daguerreotype of mulattoes

Sixth Plate Daguerreotype Portrait of A Young Mulatto WomanA fine daguerreotype portrait of a young, well-dressed mulatto woman, with the letters W and MB etched on plate’s verse

Quarter Plate Daguerreotype of Two White Children & Their Mulatto Servants,

*Quarter Plate Daguerreotype of Two White Children & Their Mulatto Servants*

Cased Ninth Plate Daguerreotype of a Mulatto, fine half-length portrait of a 20-something young, mixed race gentleman, Negroid and Caucasian, in typical merchant sailors outfit of the period.

The Daguerreotype was the first successful photographic process, the discovery being announced on 7 January 1839. The process consisted of

  • exposing copper plates to iodine, the fumes forming light-sensitive silver iodide. The plate would have to be used within an hour.
  • exposing to light – between 10 and 20 minutes, depending upon the light available.
  • developing the plate over mercury heated to 75 degrees Centigrade. This caused the mercury to amalgamate with the silver.
  • fixing the image in a warm solution of common salt (later sodium sulphite was used.)
  • rinsing the plate in hot distilled water.

I absolutely love these!  I fully intend to collect them one day when I can afford it.  There seems to me to be so much more to a daguerreotype than a photograph.  They seem haunted to me.  Like the image and the moment was so thoroughly captured that I’m really looking at something/someone frozen in time.  Haunted.

On another note, I get some sort of satisfaction from looking at these and reading the descriptions.  Proof that “we” exist and were once recognized.

*or brothers….(re: white children & their mulatto servants above)*


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6 thoughts on “mulattoes captured

  1. These are wonderful. I have a few old tintypes (a later, cheaper version of the daguerreotype) that were in my grandmother’s family bible. Unfortunately, there is nothing on them that identifies who the people are. I look hard into their faces to see if there is something physical that connects us, but I’ll never know for sure just what the relationship is.

  2. I absolutely love this blog! I consider myself a multi-generational mulatto or MGM. My parents are black then they had me. An obviously mulatto phenotype. I married a black man and one of our children came out looking more mulatto than I did with blond hair and blue eyes. I have also been drawn to the mulatto history. I just have this need to know more about myself and why I came out the way I did. Everyone thinks genes are supposed to land a certain way. Nature feels different.

  3. Two-and-half years ago I self-published Mulatto Queen: England’s Black Queen.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00422LLS2

    The mulatto is of course Queen Charlotte, consort to England’s King George III. My story was an attempt to show how a mulatto wound up the wife of the most powerful monarch of the time (mid-to-late 1700s). George III was England’s king during the American revolution. When I first heard of this story, my first question was, “How is it her Negroid features weren’t immediately detected and her wedding to the King of England called off?

    You’ll have to read the book to find that out — but the evidence she was mulatto is so compelling that as I began encountering it, I could not help but wonder why no one had written a book — fiction or non-fiction — about this amazing story.

    The evidence Charlotte was half-black is all over the internet.
    At the top of the list is a description of her made by her grandson-in-law’s physician, Baron Stockmar:

    “Small and crooked, with a true Mulatto face.”
    Baron Christian Stockmar, MD
    http://tinyurl.com/27ryc3b

    Please note two things about this quote: first, the word true; Second, the capital M. Clearly, Stockmar meant to idiot-proof his meaning — that is, to let the world know for all posterity Queen Victoria’ grandmother was half black.

    When the quote was posted in a forum several people replied Stockmar was only trying to say Queen Charlotte was ugly; that is, “mulatto” was a term for ugly during her day. But in my research the usage I found was identical to its meaning today: a person of white and black parentage. The word “mulatto” is of Latin origin and seems to have taken the original meaning as early as 1593. Consider:

    Origin of MULATTO:
    Spanish mulato, from mulo mule, from Latin mulus
    First Known Use: 1593

    A mule, of course, is a hybrid, a cross between a horse and donkey. The Latin word for mule is “mulus” and from that we can see how some enterprising Spanish-speaker used it to mean a cross between the white race and black race — mulatto. Below is a painting made by a South American painter in 1780 graphically showing usage of the word, literally spelling it out:

    In other words, all available evidence shows Stockmar meant exactly what we mean when he used the mulatto in his memoir. Stockmar was born in 1787 and died in 1863. He arrived at the English court in 1816 two years before Queen Charlotte (by then Queen Mother) died. As Physician-in-Ordinary to her granddaughter, Princess Charlotte, and grand-son-law, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, he was considered part of the royal family. His memoir, in fact, describes taking meals with the huge brood (Queen Charlotte and King George had 13 children who survived).

    Therefore, we can only reasonable conclude that when Stockmar described Queen Charlotte as “a true Mulatto” he most surely meant she had Negroid features.

    Stockmar went on to become a respected diplomat and confidant of Queen Victoria, Charlotte’s granddaughter. We have several letters from Queen Victoria discussing political matters with him. Stockmar was not only a physician, but one who while serving as a doctor during the Napoleonic wars, set up a military hospital in which wounded from both sides were treated. The man was no wastrel given to inexact descriptions; in fact, we could hardly expect there existed anyone better qualified than he to describe Charlotte’s features.

    As to context, his description was part of a dozen others describing members of the royal household. In each of these descriptions we see the same sober, frank, and exacting language as in Charlotte’s description:

    The Regent: ‘Very stout, though of a fine figure; distinguished manners; does not talk half as much as his brothers; speaks tolerably good French. He ate and drank a good deal at dinner. His brown scratch wig not particularly becoming.’

    The Duke of York: the eldest of the Regent’s brothers. ‘Tall, with immense embonpoint, and not proportionately strong legs; he holds himself in such a way that one is always afraid he will tumble over backwards; very bald, and not a very intelligent face: one can see that eating, drinking, and sensual pleasure, are everything to him. Spoke a good deal of French, with a bad accent.’

    The Queen Mother (Charlotte, wife of George III.): ‘Small and crooked, with a true Mulatto face.’

    Memoirs of Baron Stockmar VOL. I. E pp. 50
    Here’s more on Stockmar:

    Stockmar, Christian Friedrich, Baron von (kris`tyän fre`drik bäron` fun shtôk`mär), 1787–1863, Anglo-Belgian diplomat and courtier, b. Coburg, Germany. A physician, Stockmar became (1816) adviser of Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who in 1831 became King Leopold I of the Belgians. At Leopold’s request Stockmar, created baron in 1831, became (1837) an unofficial adviser to Leopold’s niece, Queen Victoria of England. Wielding an increasing influence over the young queen, he was instrumental in bringing about the marriage (1840) of Victoria to Leopold’s nephew, Prince Albert. His influence still continued after Albert’s arrival, and he was regarded as something of a mystery man. In 1848, Stockmar represented Saxe-Coburg-Gotha at the Frankfurt Parliament, but he returned to England occasionally and continued his role as unofficial adviser to Victoria and Albert.

    Another argument offered against Charlotte being a true mulatto is that that no one else said she was, and that all the paintings of her show a decidedly Caucasian-looking woman. Not so! The fact is, there are many references to her mulatto looks in literature and many paintings and mezzotints that support Stockmar’s description. (see below)

    Several of these were made before Stockmar was born. In fact, with a good number of these paintings we have two versions of Charlotte: one in which she appears to be completely Caucasian; the other in which she possesses obvious Negroid features.

    Finally, some mention should be made of the flood of bad reviews this book received during late September/early October of last year. Besides the five one-star reviews, an astounding 118 negative votes were cast; an extraordinaryly high number in light of the fact the book had been on Amazon for two years without a single bad review or vote. These votes and reviews are fraudulent — we even know the name of the white racist who orchestrated the attack — R.W. Peace is an avowed racist whose attacks on blacks and Asians is nothing new: http://marchingwithcaesar.blogspot.com/

    In fact, his virulent reaction to the prospect of a English Royal Family of African descent was expected. In the weeks leading up to the publication of the books articles about it brought the racists out of the woodwork in a similar fashion. What wasn’t expected, however, was Amazon.com do-nothing attitude about the attack. Check out the dates of the one-star reviews, you’ll see they all occurred in less than a two week period. Now by themselves one-star reviews won’t kill a book. One-star reviews pushed to the top of the page by a flood of supporting votes is another matter. In this case it was 118 votes all made in the same two-week period.

    The book has been on Amazon for 29 months (as of this writing). For 23 months it did not receive one bad review or vote. For it to suddenly receive five one-star reviews and 118 votes in less than two weeks, is evidence of an organized attack — nothing else explains it.

    And then there’s the content of the one-star votes — malicious, angry, hateful. This alone should have prompted Amazon to remove them. A review saying “This is the worst book ever — complete garbage!” is hardly a review. That’s hate, which is an emotion Amazon’s own guidelines prohibits in reviews.

    And yet when I contacted Amazon with these facts they did nothing. Despite the fact that the book has 10 five-star reviews, the five bogus one-star reviews are what new customers see. That’s because the bogus votes push the bogus reviews to the top of the page. Worst still, it places these bogus reviews under the headline “Most Helpful.” And if that isn’t all, it pulls quotes from them, quotes such as “This book was awful! ”

    Amazon explains all this as its policy of being scrupulously honest about customer reviews. But embedded in this policy is the premise that all reviews and votes are scrupulously honest — that malicious attacks on books don’t happen.

    Indeed, this was the pro-forma response I received from all my emails — “Our IT staff has checked our campaign vote algorithm and detected no abnormal activity on your book detail page.”

    This pretty much explains the wall of malicious reviews that greeted you when you first came to this page — hate and incompetence.

    And here I’ll stop …

    My saving grace are the sample chapters; they’re free and customers have read them, seen the quality of writing was excellent and ignored the bogus reviews. Sales are now solid and look to stay that way. Because of Amazon’s incompetently managed vote system the bogus reviews will remain at the top of the page no matter how many tens of five-star reviews this book receives but I’ve given up trying to convince Amazon of how their nutty system is misleading customers.

    References in Literature:

    “She was undoubtedly a plain young girl with a large mouth, with a rather swarthy complexion and, her nostrils spreading wide, with something of the appearance of a mulatto.”
    George III A Personal History
    by Christopher Hibbert 2000
    http://tinyurl.com/2fxrg9q
    ——————————
    J.A. Rogers Writes:
    From Crisis Magazine Feb 1940
    “her portrat by Ramsay in the National Gallery shows her to be decidedly Negroid. I have a copy bought in London which I have been showing to both colored and white persons without saying who she was and they invariably take her for a colored woman…”
    http://tinyurl.com/33erylq
    ———————————————-
    The Princess Royal Geoffrey Wakeford
    page 110 “her mulatto looks”
    http://tinyurl.com/2bhf9re
    ——————————
    “The jewels lit up her (queen Charlotte) fine, broad features, echoes of her mulatto ancestry…”
    The Love Stones, by Tobias Hill
    novel 2003
    http://tinyurl.com/383s6rk
    ———————————-
    In an article in the Sunday Telegraph, 3/10/99, reporting Dr Steve Jones geneticist calculation that ‘one in five British people has a direct black ancestor’, it is stated that the explanation for Queen Charlotte’s ‘mulatto’ appearance is that …
    http://tinyurl.com/2ax4h6o
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/steve-jones/
    ——————————————–
    The last of the cocked hats: James Monroe & the Virginia dynasty:
    “the small, mulatto-faced Queen Charlotte, whose wide-slit mouth was reminiscent of the rigid demarcation line she set between virtue and vice…”
    University of Oklahoma Press, 1945 Arthur Styron
    http://tinyurl.com/3ak9v4z
    ———————————–
    William Haig Miller, James Macaulay, William Stevens – 1873 – Full view:
    The Queen Mother (Charlotte, wife of George III.) “Small and crooked, with a true mulatto face.” (An old playgoer reports that when George m appeared in a theatre without the Queen, the gallery used to call out, ‘ ‘ George, where’s Pug^ …
    http://tinyurl.com/3akke5n
    ——————————–
    Posthumous memoirs of Karoline Bauer: from the German, Volume 2
    By Karoline Bauer 1884
    http://tinyurl.com/2bmoj89
    ———————————————–
    ——————————
    The Princess Royal Geoffrey Wakefordpage 110 “her mulatto looks”http://tinyurl.com/2bhf9re
    ——————————
    Parson Austen’s daughter Collins, 1967 http://tinyurl.com/39gltop
    ——————

    George the Third
    Stanley Edward Ayling – 1972 – 510 pages – Snippet view
    patience when news of the death of the Duchess of Mecklenburg- Strelitz,Charlotte’s mother, arrived only four days … Her colouring was dark, and some discovered a hint of the mulatto in her looks.
    http://tinyurl.com/29j9k9r
    “She was undoubtedly a plain young girl with a large mouth, with a rather swarthy complexion and, her nostrils spreading wide, with something of the appearance of a mulatto.”
    George III A Personal Historyby Christopher Hibbert 2000http://tinyurl.com/2fxrg9q

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  5. this is awesome. most of my family were “documented” as being mulatto, and i really wanted to see what their features looked like—south carolina

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