I came across this web site in my morning read yesterday and shared it with a few folks on instant messenger. Essentially, its a photo gallery of Victorian era post-mortem photography. Apparently it was a novel but eventually enduring custom of the era to enshrine the memory of dead loved ones using the wondrous new technology of photography. Given that dead people don’t tend to move during the lengthy exposures, they would seem to make good candidates for the early photographical process. However, the posing and inclusion of living friends and family members was also very common. The overall effect is, well, kind of creepy. I polled a few unsuspecting friends over IM for their thoughts.

No gory images within, just commentary. If you REALLY want to visit the gallery there is a link at the end of the article.


Cyberduck:

  • Victorians were all about the creepy.
  • This is exactly what happens when you don’t have anything good on TV or the internet.
  • Fortunately, everything smelled like hell back then. So you didn’t notice.

Twelveoaks:

  • I assume it was meant as a remembrance and that they were not being ironic or intentionally icky.
  • Probably not a lot of portraits taken of the person while alive.
  • The one with the living older sibling cradling the dead one is chilling

Pipistrella:

  • That IS creepy. I don’t know how you could stand it.
  • They were less horrified by corpses, I think. Guess they were used to it.
  • Chalk it up to a high mortality rate and home-prepared corpses.

Mystech (your’s truly):

  • Remarkably considering the primitive state of preservation. Most of these had probably began to putrefy to some degree. And you had to sit there for long, early film exposures.
  • Going to chalk it up to absinthe, opium and laundnum.
  • I thought they’d be busier conqueoring and colonizing the third world.

So here’s the link to the gallery. Nothing gory, mind you, but delicate readers may not want to click through.

What’s your take? Just another post-mortem fad (like Lifegems, Space Burials and Cryonics)?