Marriage in the month of June
Did you know that at one time, June was considered the luckiest month to marry? It was thought that couples who married in June would be blessed with happiness and prosperity, thanks to Greek goddess Hera - the goddess of women, marriage, and family. In the United States, June is still the most popular month to get married, with 10.8% of American couples choosing a June wedding date.
We'll never know if this Nolita, New York, couple married in June, but their wedding portrait definitely tells us a lot of other things!
Maxwell & Mansfield were a tricky lot to track down. After discovering that the New York City Directories have been digitized by the New York Public Library up to 1923, I spent several hours searching the Ms in the 1879 - 1894 directories for evidence of this dynamic art/photography duo (city directories are extremely valuable tools in locating people or businesses in a certain location during a certain year.)
Both named John, I discovered that in 1884, John Mansfield was labeled as an 'artist' without a business location, a photographer in 1885 without a business location, and in 1886, he had relocated to 186 Bowery, again named as an artist. In 1887, the directory labels him as a 'photographer,' and his career label remained unchanged for the next 6 years.
In 1886, the photography business at 186 Bowery under John Maxwell had been called Maxwell & Hobby, yet there was no evidence of Maxwell & Hobby before or after that one year. Between 1886-1893, there were at least 3 other photography businesses in the same block, if not more. Maxwell & Mansfield stood, as it states on the back of its card, on Bowery, one door below Spring Street, in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan. The name, aptly taken from North Of Little ITAly, the Nolita neighborhood was once the home thousands of Italian immigrants, but also of a few well known individuals throughout the years: Martin Scorsese's parents grew up in the neighborhood, Nikola Tesla had a laboratory on Houston Street, and David Bowie had a long-time residence somewhere in this small corner of Manhattan.
By 1894, Mansfield had relocated out of New York City or died, and Maxwell continued his profession as a photographer, probably under a different name. This short period of time, 1886-1893, would explain the relative lack of physical evidence on the internet for this pair.