It may have been a special occasion when Ida (Heitz) Möll of Traben-Trarbach, Mosel, Germany, traveled fifty miles northeast to the town of Koblenz, also on the Mosel River, to have her photograph made. In 1907, Ida turned twenty-two.1 She would not marry until 1914, so her photograph was not taken in honor of her wedding.2 Perhaps she had traveled to Koblenz with her family, whether it was a semi-regular trip made for the purposes of shopping or visiting, or a rare chance to experience a larger city. Whatever the reason, in 1907, Ida made her way to Koblenz, likely by train, and came away with two photographs of herself in different poses.
What can we learn from these photographs? Ida was photographed at C. Wilhelm’s Hofphotograph studio in what was called, at that time, Coblenz. The photographs are narrower than others that I have seen before. The date “1907” is stamped in the lower corner of one of the photographs, a date that appears to be accurate based on the clothing Ida wears. Her dress, made of a heavy fabric that seems suited to cool weather, features a high collar, a skirt with soft gathers, a bodice that is puffed gracefully over her waistband, and sleeves that are very full at the top but fitted at the forearm. Her hair is styled in a Gibson Girl manner, puffed full around her face and coiled and fastened in the back.3 Note the side part struggling to make an appearance – perhaps she hadn’t been styling her hair in this manner for very long!
No rings adorn Ida’s fingers; in fact, the only jewelry she wears appears to be a brooch at her throat. Her dress, however, is quite fine, with circular embellishments on the bodice, a dark, possibly velvet collar and a shirtwaist featuring what looks like lace or cutwork. Even her skirt has matching fabric attached in a pattern of three bands.
In both photographs, Ida poses with an ornate, carved chair with a floral cushion. In one of the photographs, her gaze is direct; in the other, she looks slightly away from the camera. Her posture is excellent, her expression serious, and she looks older than her age. It’s clear that she made an effort to look her best for the occasion, whatever it may have been.
1 Heitz-Möll Family Tree; Frick Family; privately held [personal information withheld].
2 Heitz-Möll Family Tree; Frick Family; privately held [personal information withheld].
3 Maureen A. Taylor, Family Photo Detective (Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2013), 112.