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March 15, 2015

These Hilarious 19th-Century Portraits Depict Five Stages of Inebriation

Captured by photographer Charles Percy Pickering from between 1863 and 1868, these hilarious sepia snapshots are considered to be staged, showing off the various stages of drunkenness for use in educational resources directed towards temperance groups.

Advocates of temperance encouraged good citizens to be teetotallers, a term describing those who abstained from alcohol completely. Fun fact, according to the State Library of New South Wales, the term emerged because temperance proponent John Turner had a stutter and mispronounced the word “total.”

A rather unique aspect of these prints is that they are albumen print photographs. Invented by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard in 1850, this technique made use of albumen (literally egg whites) to bind the photosensitive chemicals to the paper where they could then be exposed and developed. Considered the first commercially successful method of producing a print from a negative, this particular print style was prevalent from the time of its invention through the beginning of the 1900s.

Stage 1

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 4

Stage 5

(Photos: Charles Percy Pickering / State LIbrary of New South Wales)


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