Long before the advent of Photoshop and democratization of cameras, you had to go to the photographer to take photographs with family and friends, and the use fake backdrops and sceneries was widespread!
Here’s a selection of fake sceneries used in old photographs
Three of the Cherry Sisters: Addie, Jessie and Effie – Courtesy of the Des Moines Register
The Cherry Sisters: Three of the siblings strike a theatrical pose.
In the early 20th century, the Cherry Sisters — a family of performers from Marion, Iowa — were like a meme.
Simply invoking the name — the Cherry Sisters — was shorthand for anything awful.
As Anthony Slide wrote in the Encyclopedia of Vaudeville, the onstage siblings became “synonymous with any act devoid of talent.”
Apparently, they were a cross between early American performance art and age old scapegoatism.
Their variety act included original music, bass drum thumping, poetry, mouth harp playing, inspirational recitations, essay reading, fake hypnosis and other artistic expressions.
And the audience responded to the whole shebang by hurling vegetables, shouting interjections and behaving rudely.
“People enjoyed tossing tomatoes and whatever at them,” says David Soren, acting curator of the American Vaudeville Museum Collection at the University of Arizona.
“The Cherry Sisters were generally regarded as the worst ever.”
But the Cherry Sisters also signified something else in American comedy history. In the tradition of Tiny Tim, Andy Kaufman and certain other deadpan comics, the questions always hovered around them: Were they sincere? Were they in on the joke? Did they even care what people thought?
“Several good researchers,” the 2004 book Vaudeville Old and New observes, “have pondered the reasons the Cherry Sisters were willing to put up with the abuse that attended their vaudeville careers.
Most observers ranged between two poles of opinion: those who held that the Cherry Sisters knew what they were doing and to some degree were complicit and those who maintain that the sisters were talentless naifs ignorant of how bad they were.”
Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out. The spark goes, the flame flickers, the fire dies – whichever combustible cliche you favour, love has a regrettable habit of fizzling out.
But for everyone bar the wealthiest men in Victorian Britain, divorce was out of the question.
That may explain, if not excuse, why a navvy in Stacksteads, Lancashire who’d grown tired of married life, reverted to an old English custom.
He offered up his wife for auction to the highest bidder, staging the sale – as an additional insult – at the home they’d shared together.
“Despite Solomon’s testimony as to a woman being more precious than rubies, and notwithstanding that the spectators were numerous, the highest offer was only 4d,” said the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent in 1879.
“The seller wanted to ‘throw in’ three children, but the buyer objected, and the bairns were left on hand.
The wife, however, went joyfully to the home of her new owner, and seemed to be quite glad to get away from her late liege lord as he was to part with her.”