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I didn’t have a post scheduled for today but when this gem arrived in the mail yesterday I couldn’t wait
to share it.

When I first saw the picture, in a poor scan on Ebay, I assumed the subject was a man. On closer inspection, I have considered the possibility that this is a woman in drag.

The somewhat theatrical mien of the sitter, the subject’s effeminacy, soft features and no signs of facial growth are a start towards this assumption. Additionally the combination of top hat, pipe, glasses and a business suit seem to me to be caricature features of a male of this period, which I estimate to be the 1930s, rather than an ensemble worn at the time.

If it were a man dressed for a night out on the town wouldn’t he be in formal wear? I never saw Fred Astaire or anyone else for that matter, in a top hat without white tie and tails. There is also something about the top hat that suggests to me that it is nothing more than a costumers prop. The brim seems too narrow and thin and the silky sheen of most top hats is missing.

It could of course be a very young man dressed for a play or a fancy dress party.

Anyone else have an opinion? Please let me know by leaving a comment.

photoboothTopHatPipe

Approximate original size relative to the larger scan.

photoboothTopHatPipeLarge

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