Before the Tonnesen Sisters were known for their calendar prints, they were known for supplying photos of live models for advertising purposes. Early photographic and advertising journals featured examples of their work, touting everything from soap to farm machinery. I’ve also seen ads for various products that offered prints by Tonnesen, either free or for a nominal cost, as a reward for purchasing the product. I’ve always found those ads tantalizing, as they generally listed the prints by title without showing the actual print, leaving me to wonder what masterpiece I’ve missed! Finally, however, I have one of those illusive advertising premiums – “Finishing Touches,” a 1901 “art platograph” by Tonnesen Sisters, free to every purchaser of Johnson’s Baby Powder. I’ve scanned both front and back and posted it here.
The print itself is notable in several respects. First, in all of my reading of vintage photographic journals, I have never seen anything labled an “art platograph.” Maybe there’s a photography buff out there who will know about it. Also, I note that the vanity table and bench appear to be illustrated – not part of the original photograph. The leaded glass window was part of Tonnesen’s studio set, so it was in the original photo, but I don’t know about the screen. The child appeared often in Tonnesen’s work ca. 1900, and I believe she was a well-known Chicago child model named Edna Clifford.
Copyright 2014 Lois Emerson