Mystery Photo: Nye’s Studio Couple

One thing that gets weird about photos shot with costumes, props and a fake background is that eventually the photo will become old, and then it’s more difficult to tell whether the people in the photo are dressed in their normal clothing, were being photographed to promote a play, or just having a novelty photo taken. So the image above might seem like an 1890s version of what a photo of someone in 2024 wearing disco clothes might convey in the year 2156.

Anyway, like with most of these old photos there is little chance we can identify who is in the shot, but nonetheless we put the mystery out there for potential solving. The only clue we have is that according to the Minnesota Historical Society’s Directory of Minnesota Photographers, Willis A. Nye had a studio in Duluth’s Long Building at 7 E. Superior St. circa 1890 to 1892. Toward the end of that run, city directories list the proprietors of Nye’s Studio as Willis Nye’s wife Myra Nye and Frederick Johnson.

8 Comments

accipiterbuteo

about 5 months ago

Perhaps a wedding invitation from Taylor and Travis?

Jon Snyder

about 4 months ago

I am researching a group called the Andrews Opera Company, based out of Minnesota. It toured mostly small towns and cities from 1884 to 1901. On Jan. 15, 1892 the company was in a terrible railroad accident 7 miles east of Brainerd at 3:50 a.m. They were travelling from West Superior to Grand Forks. They had played at Duluth from Jan. 4-11.

I found an article from the Duluth Daily News, Jan. 17, 1892, Sunday. It reads:

In a short time very fine photographs of the Andrews Opera Company will be shown at Nye's studio, those of the late Mrs. Andrews being especially good.
I was trying just now to find out if any of Nye's work remained. Any pictures would be from one of the operas they performed in Duluth: Fra Diavolo, Pretty Persian, Bohemian Girl, Falka, Maritana, Iolanthe, Pirates of the Penzance and La Mascotte. So, the photo looks like it is from a set of a play or opera. Does it have a date? You should search for images of the above operas. Recall that the Andrews could wear whatever costumes they might have available. They might have the same costumes as a production from New York or London. See the photo below about La Mascotte.  

Paul Lundgren

about 4 months ago

No date on the photo.

Looks like a hot lead, though!

jonsnyder

about 4 months ago

Does Nye's studio photos exist in a single collection?  Like I was saying, I'm trying to find any photographic record of the Andrews Opera Company.

Paul Lundgren

about 4 months ago

I don't think there's any official collection; probably just a few scattered around the world in old shoeboxes and whatnot.

I've got one more Nye's cabinet card photo that'll get posted eventually, but that one clearly is not related to the Andrews Opera Company.

jonsnyder

about 4 months ago

Thanks.  It is a pity that someone didn't write something on the back of the photo.

jonsnyder

about 3 months ago

I am now 90% sure the man is Edward Monroe Andrews (1857-1941) and his wife Annie (Nannie Wilkinson) of the Andrews Opera Company. The photo would have been taken some time between Jan. 4 and Jan. 15, 1892. I have two photos of Ed, one from about 10 years later dressed for the opera The Mikado, and another about 30 years later.

The best match is in the nose of your photo with the nose in the picture 30 years later. You'll need to enlarge to see the match. Also, the eyebrows, prominent lower lip, frontal baldness, and ears are in agreement. 

I took a damaged Mikado photo, repaired what damage I was able to, then recolorized the picture myself.
  

Paul Lundgren

about 3 months ago



Hard to say for sure, but it certainly looks possible.

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Read previous post:
Pronoya – “Sever”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjKRbsvAXCQ Duluth metalcore band Pronoya has a new single, "Sever," and plans to release an EP this summer. The next...

Close