Beyond The Dark Veil: Post Mortem
ABOUT THE ARCHIVE: Located in Woodinville, Washington, The Thanatos Archive houses an extensive collection of early post- mortem, memorial, and mourning photographs dating as far back as the 1840s. The online version of the archive, hosted at Thanatos.net since 2002, offers a searchable database of over 2,300 scanned images, with scans of new acquisitions being added on a regular basis. In addition to the main online archive, hundreds of additional images and material can be found in the community discussion forum, including hi-resolution enlargements, genealogical information, and more. Co-published by California State University, Fullerton, Nicholas & Lee Begovich Gallery, Grand Central Press, and Last Gasp.
Beyond the Dark Veil: Post Mortem
ABOUT THE ARCHIVE: Located in Woodinville, Washington, The Thanatos Archive houses an extensive collection of early post-mortem, memorial, and mourning photographs dating as far back as the 1840s. The online version of the archive, hosted at Thanatos.net since 2002, offers a searchable database of over 2,300 scanned images, with scans of new acquisitions being added on a regular basis. In addition to the main online archive, hundreds of additional images and material can be found in the community discussion forum, including hi-resolution enlargements, genealogical information, and more.
Beyond the Dark Veil: Post Mortem and Mourning Photography from The Thanatos Archive is a compilation of more than 120 extraordinary and haunting photographs and related ephemera documenting the practice of death and mourning photography in the Victorian Era and early twentieth century. Supplemented with original newspaper articles, clippings, funeral notices, memorial ephemera and more, the collection will take us on a journey through a fascinating, moving, and melancholically beautiful part of our past. The images in Beyond the Dark Veil speak to us: they speak of love, loss, lives cut short, brave final hours, shattered families, and the depths of the human spirit. Contains 194 images of hand-colored photographs, albumen prints, ambrotypes, cabinet cards, carte de viste, daguerreotypes, gelatin silver prints, opaltypes, real photo postcards, stereoviews, tintypes, and supplementary articles and related ephemera. Contributors include: Adam Arenson I, Jacqueline Ann Bunge Barger, Alex Jackson, Bess Lovejoy, Marion Peck, Joanna Roche, and Joe Smoke. ABOUT THE ARCHIVE: Located in Woodinville, Washington, The Thanatos Archive houses an extensive collection of early post-mortem, memorial, and mourning photographs dating as far back as the 1840s. The online version of the archive, hosted at Thanatos.net since 2002, offers a searchable database of over 2,300 scanned images, with scans of new acquisitions being added on a regular basis. In addition to the main online archive, hundreds of additional images and material can be found in the community discussion forum, including hi-resolution enlargements, genealogical information, and more.
Hard to find first editions of our extremely popular post mortem & mourning photography book, "Beyond the Dark Veil", featuring images from our collection. Not to miss! SOLD OUT? Kind of... copies are available, but we have a limited supply of these 2014 first editions left. The remaining stock is reserved at a special discounted price, for Thanatos Archive Patrons only. To purchase your reserved copy of Beyond the Dark Veil:1. Click here to become a Thanatos Archive Patron (new window)2. Your Patreon welcome message will include the link and password to our Patrons-Only bookstore, where you will be able to purchase your reserved copy.
* * *The Begovich Gallery will produce a full color publication, available early 2014, which will feature essays (including one by Marion Peck), images, and historical background information on photography and memorial practices that relate to the memorial and post mortem images included in the exhibition.
This is something that we, as a culture, are not accustomed to, and it can seem jarring. Some might even say distasteful. I would disagree, and so would the Victorians; post mortem photography was a sacred part of their mourning process.
That said, photography was still a relatively new phenomenon during the height of post mortem photography. As such, photographs were not prevalent, and often, if a family had little funds for frivolous items, a post mortem photograph was the only photograph of an individual taken in his or her entire lifetime.
During the Victorian era, with the popular spread of photography, and before the emergence of a funeral industry, the practice of home post-mortem photography had its heyday. It was common to have your deceased loved ones photographed, not only while lying in state, but sitting in chairs, standing up (with the aid of special corpse stands), even posing with living members of the family. It was as though, given the advent of the photograph, people felt as though they could keep their loved ones alive longer by taking pictures of them. And those pictures weren't hidden away, to be privately wept over in melancholy remembrance, but prominently displayed in the most public areas of the home.
The book contains 194 images, which include deathbed post-mortem photos, photos of dead children and families, adults, crime and tragedy post-mortems, and even photos of dead pets. The book also serves as a fascinating survey of late 19th century imaging technologies, with hand-colored photographs, albumen prints, ambrotypes, cabinet cards, carte de viste, daguerreotypes, gelatin silver prints, opaltypes, photo postcards, stereoviews, and tintypes, all from the extensive collection of The Thantos Archive.
Your sure to be impressed with this brand new,high quality, hard cover book of post mortem photographs. The black faux leather and gold page edges give it a stunning exterior. Inside you will find hundred of color, high quality images.
Known as post-mortem photography, these haunting shots where produced shortly after passing. They featured the deceased dressed in fancy attire, surrounded by loved ones or flower wreaths. Some corpses were even propped up with painted eyelids to appear alive.
The Thanatos Archive put together a beautiful, beautiful collection of post- and premortem photography as well as postmortem photography of animals and related ephemera from the Victorian era to the early twentieth century. Mourning was different in these days and from what I felt by only looking at the photographs in this book and reading the little lines and stories that accompany each photograph, it was way more intense but also every picture tells you not only a story of a life but also a story of a society that is used to and surrounded by death every day.
Facts from Amazon:Jack Mord is the owner and curator of The Thanatos Archive. In addition to post mortem and mourning photography, his eclectic collection of vintage photos includes many examples of the unusual, the rare, and the macabre, and has been reproduced in film, popular television, academic textbooks, illustrated works of fiction and other media. Originally from Los Angeles, he now lives in the Pacific Northwest. A large part of his post mortem collection can be viewed at The Thanatos Archive online.
Whether the story of Gottfried Plattner is to be credited or not is a pretty question in the value of evidence. On the one hand, we have seven witnesses--to be perfectly exact, we have six and a half pairs of eyes, and one undeniable fact; and on the other we have--what is it?--prejudice, common-sense, the inertia of opinion. Never were there seven more honest-seeming witnesses; never was there a more undeniable fact than the inversion of Gottfried Plattner's anatomical structure, and--never was there a more preposterous story than the one they have to tell! The most preposterous part of the story is the worthy Gottfried's contribution (for I count him as one of the seven). Heaven forbid that I should be led into giving countenance to superstition by a passion for impartiality, and so come to share the fate of Eusapia's patrons! Frankly, I believe there is something crooked about this business of Gottfried Plattner; but what that crooked factor is, I will admit as frankly, I do not know. I have been surprised at the credit accorded to the story in the most unexpected and authoritative quarters. The fairest way to the reader, however, will be for me to tell it without further comment.Gottfried Plattner is, in spite of his name, a freeborn Englishman. His father was an Alsatian who came to England in the 'sixties, married a respectable English girl of unexceptionable antecedents, and died, after a wholesome and uneventful life (devoted, I understand, chiefly to the laying of parquet flooring), in 1887. Gottfried's age is seven-and-twenty. He is, by virtue of his heritage of three languages, Modern Languages Master in a small private school in the south of England. To the casual observer he is singularly like any other Modern Languages Master in any other small private school. His costume is neither very costly nor very fashionable, but, on the other hand, it is not markedly cheap or shabby; his complexion, like his height and his bearing, is inconspicuous. You would notice, perhaps, that, like the majority of people, his face was not absolutely symmetrical, his right eye a little larger than the left, and his jaw a trifle heavier on the right side. If you, as an ordinary careless person, were to bare his chest and feel his heart beating, you would probably find it quite like the heart of anyone else. But here you and the trained observer would part company. If you found his heart quite ordinary, the trained observer would find it quite otherwise. And once the thing was pointed out to you, you too would perceive the peculiarity easily enough. It is that Gottfried's heart beats on the right side of his body.Now, that is not the only singularity of Gottfried's structure, although it is the only one that would appeal to the untrained mind. Careful sounding of Gottfried's internal arrangements by a well-known surgeon seems to point to the fact that all the other unsymmetrical parts of his body are similarly misplaced. The right lobe of his liver is on the left side, the left on his right; while his lungs, too, are similarly contraposed. What is still more singular, unless Gottfried is a consummate actor, we must believe that his right hand has recently become his left. Since the occurrences we are about to consider (as impartially as possible), he has found the utmost difficulty in writing, except from right to left across the paper with his left hand. He cannot throw with his right hand, he is perplexed at meal-times between knife and fork, and his ideas of the rule of the road--he is a cyclist--are still a dangerous confusion. And there is not a scrap of evidence to show that before these occurrences Gottfried was at all left-handed.There is yet another wonderful fact in this preposterous business. Gottfried produces three photographs of himself. You have him at the age of five or six, thrusting fat legs at you from under a plaid frock, and scowling. In that photograph his left eye is a little larger than his right, and his jaw is a trifle heavier on the left side. This is the reverse of his present living condition. The photograph of Gottfried at fourteen seems to contradict these facts, but that is because it is one of those cheap "Gem" photographs that were then in vogue, taken direct upon metal, and therefore reversing things just as a looking-glass would. The third photograph represents him at one-and-twenty, and confirms the record of the others. There seems here evidence of the strongest confirmatory character that Gottfried has exchanged his left side for his right. Yet how a human being can be so changed, short of a fantastic and pointless miracle, it is exceedingly hard to suggest.In one way, of course, these facts might be explicable on the supposition that Plattner has undertaken an elaborate mystification, on the strength of his heart's displacement. Photographs may be faked, and left-handedness imitated. But the character of the man does not lend itself to any such theory. He is quiet, practical, unobtrusive, and thoroughly sane, from the Nordau standpoint. He likes beer, and smokes moderately, takes walking exercise daily, and has a healthily high estimate of the value of his teaching. He has a good but untrained tenor voice, and takes a pleasure in singing airs of a popular and cheerful character. He is fond, but not morbidly fond, of reading,--chiefly fiction pervaded with a vaguely pious optimism,--sleeps well, and rarely dreams. He is, in fact, the very last person to evolve a fantastic fable. Indeed, so far from forcing this story upon the world, he has been singularly reticent on the matter. He meets enquirers with a certain engaging--bashfulness is almost the word, that disarms the most suspicious. He seems genuinely ashamed that anything so unusual has occurred to him.It is to be regretted that Plattner's aversion to the idea of post-mortem dissection may postpone, perhaps for ever, the positive proof that his entire body has had its left and right sides transposed. Upon that fact mainly the credibility of his story hangs. There is no way of taking a man and moving him about in space as ordinary people understand space, that will result in our changing his sides. Whatever you do, his right is still his right, his left his left. You can do that with a perfectly thin and flat thing, of course. If you were to cut a figure out of paper, any figure with a right and left side, you could change its sides simply by lifting it up and turning it over. But with a solid it is different. Mathematical theorists tell us that the only way in which the right and left sides of a solid body can be changed is by taking that body clean out of space as we know it,--taking it out of ordinary existence, that is, and turning it somewhere outside space. This is a little abstruse, no doubt, but anyone with any knowledge of mathematical theory will assure the reader of its truth. To put the thing in technical language, the curious inversion of Plattner's right and left sides is proof that he has moved out of our space into what is called the Fourth Dimension, and that he has returned again to our world. Unless we choose to consider ourselves the victims of an elaborate and motiveless fabrication, we are almost bound to believe that this has occurred.So much for the tangible facts. We come now to the account of the phenomena that attended his temporary disappearance from the world. It appears that in the Sussexville Proprietary School, Plattner not only discharged the duties of Modern Languages Master, but also taught chemistry, commercial geography, bookkeeping, shorthand, drawing, and any other additional subject to which the changing fancies of the boys' parents might direct attention. He knew little or nothing of these various subjects, but in secondary as distinguished from Board or elementary schools, knowledge in the teacher is, very properly, by no means so necessary as high moral character and gentlemanly tone. In chemistry he was particularly deficient, knowing, he says, nothing beyond the Three Gases (whatever the three gases may be). As, however, his pupils began by knowing nothing, and derived all their information from him, this caused him (or anyone) but little inconvenience for several terms. Then a little boy named Whibble joined the school, who had been educated (it seems) by some mischievous relative into an inquiring habit of mind. This little boy followed Plattner's lessons with marked and sustained interest, and in order to exhibit his zeal on the subject, brought, at various times, substances for Plattner to analyse. Plattner, flattered by this evidence of his power of awakening interest, and trusting to the boy's ignorance, analysed these, and even, made general statements as to their composition. Indeed, he was so far stimulated by his pupil as to obtain a work upon analytical chemistry, and study it during his supervision of the evening's preparation. He was surprised to find chemistry quite an interesting subject.So far the story is absolutely commonplace. But now the greenish powder comes upon the scene. The source of that greenish powder seems, unfortunately, lost. Master Whibble tells a tortuous story of finding it done up in a packet in a disused limekiln near the Downs. It would have been an excellent thing for Plattner, and possibly for Master Whibble's family, if a match could have been applied to that powder there and then. The young gentleman certainly did not bring it to school in a packet, but in a common eight-ounce graduated medicine bottle, plugged with masticated newspaper. He gave it to Plattner at the end of the afternoon school. Four boys had been detained after school prayers in order to complete some neglected tasks, and Plattner was supervising these in the small class-room in which the chemical teaching was conducted. The appliances for the practical teaching of chemistry in the Sussexville Proprietary School, as in most small schools in this country, are characterised by a severe simplicity. They are kept in a small cupboard standing in a recess, and having about the same capacity as a common travelling trunk. Plattner, being bored with his passive superintendence, seems to have welcomed the intervention of Whibble with his green powder as an agreeable diversion, and, unlocking this cupboard, proceeded at once with his analytical experiments. Whibble sat, luckily for himself, at a safe distance, regarding him. The four malefactors, feigning a profound absorption in their work, watched him furtively with the keenest interest. For even within the limits of the Three Gases, Plattner's practical chemistry was, I understand, temerarious.They are practically unanimous in their account of Plattner's proceedings. He poured a little of the green powder into a test-tube, and tried the substance with water, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, and sulphuric acid in succession. Getting no result, he emptied out a little heap--nearly half the bottleful, in fact--upon a slate and tried a match. He held the medicine bottle in his left hand. The stuff began to smoke and melt, and then exploded with deafening violence and a blinding flash.The five boys, seeing the flash and being prepared for catastrophes, ducked below their desks, and were none of them seriously hurt. The window was blown out into the playground, and the blackboard on its easel was upset. The slate was smashed to atoms. Some plaster fell from the ceiling. No other damage was done to the school edifice or appliances, and the boys at first, seeing nothing of Plattner, fancied he was knocked down and lying out of their sight below the desks. They jumped out of their places to go to his assistance, and were amazed to find the space empty. Being still confused by the sudden violence of the report, they hurried to the open door, under the impression that he must have been hurt, and have rushed out of the room. But Carson, the foremost, nearly collided in the doorway with the principal, Mr. Lidgett.Mr. Lidgett is a corpulent, excitable man with one eye. The boys describe him as stumbling into the room mouthing some of those tempered expletives irritable schoolmasters accustom themselves to use--lest worse befall. "Wretched mumchancer!" he said. "Where's Mr. Plattner?" The boys are agreed on the very words. ("Wobbler," "snivelling puppy," and "mumchancer" are, it seems, among the ordinary small change of Mr. Lidgett's scholastic commerce.)Where's Mr. Plattner? That was a question that was to be repeated ma