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A series of morbid posts

I guess I’ve been kind of morbid lately, what with my dog and Kurt Vonnegut dying and the Dead Dave Wall and the dead guinea pig story. It’s time for a more upbeat post. Something uplifting and inspirational. Something heartwarming and joyful.

Ho hum. While we’re waiting for me to think of something like that, here are some photos of a dead nun and a dead priest. It’s pretty obvious the nun’s dead, but they actually propped the priest up in a chair and went to a lot of trouble to make him look alive.

CDV of Dead Nun This is a post-mortem CDV (short for carte de visite, or visiting card, standard dimensions 2.25″ by 3.5″), which were a popular form of paper photographs in the 1800s. There are no markings on it, so I don’t know who the photographer was, who the young nun was, when the photo was taken, or what sort of nun she was. In other words, I know nothing.

Cabinet Card of Dead Priest or Cardinal? This is a post-mortem cabinet card of a priest or a cardinal or something. I suspect he was somewhat important because the photograph has this printed on the bottom: “Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1879, by E.S. Sterry, in the office of the Libraries of Congress, Washington, D.C.” On the back of the card it says “Sterry Photographer, Adams Block Cohoes.”

So we know the approximate date of this photograph, and the photographer, Sterry, who worked in New York.

Dead Priest's Head on a Stick How do we know the priest is dead? Check out the stick wedged between his chin and chest. Dead giveaway.

If anybody can shed any more light on either of these photographs, please let me know. I would very much like to know who these people were.

I wonder if the dead priest’s name was Dave…

7 comments to A series of morbid posts

  • I’m going to try one of those sticks during Wednesday afternoon meetings.

  • That’s unusual. No light coming from here. Well, except the glint of cat eyes stalking the crow on the railing…

  • Let me know how it works out Robin. It could be an interesting sideline; I’m sure there’d be a market for it.

    Pearl: now THAT’S a great image.

  • I’m ROFL about the stick under the chin, I didn’t catch that in the original pic and wondered how d’you know he’s dead?? Ha ha.

  • george harris

    Sorry, I don’t know about the subjects, but the photographer. Very weird connection I know, but I collect Sterry photographs. I grew up, fifty years ago, in an octagon house on the Mohawk River north of Cohoes. I am now restoring the house, built in the 1800s. Elizabeth Sterry was the first known owner of the house in the mid 1800s and she was married to Edward S. Sterry. She sold the house in the mid 1870s. I’ve been googling around for some time trying to come with stuff on them, this is a weird one. Would you consider selling the photo? Hope no offense is taken.

  • George, that’s cool, and of course no offense is taken. How long have you been collecting Sterry photographs? How many have you found?

    I hadn’t thought about selling the photo, but I might consider it. My email address is on the front page (upper left hand corner) of the blog – feel free to email me directly.


  • george harris

    They actually left several in the house of the house which is very unusal to have. Also several of the local area. Sterry teamed up with Mcdonald, McDonald & Sterry, and they were well known for doing steeograph views of Albany and particularly saratoga in the mid to late 1800s. I collected a number of those. I’m sure he took some photos of Elizabeth and I’m always hoping to trip acroos one of those. She owned the house in her early twenties. My interest in all this picked up some over the last ten years. My mom was the local Town historian.
    BTW, Ottawa is beautifull. My son played Junior Hockey prior to college and we were there several times, 4 or five years ago. Summer and winter time.