Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Occupational Image: A Groom

Part of an intermittent series featuring "occupational" images that have appeared online.

In honor of the recent Kentucky Derby, here is a great tintype of a groom, or stablehand, dating to the last quarter of the nineteenth century. In his left hand, he holds a curry comb, much like this antique example.*

Late 19th-Century Curry Comb, Ebay.

"Currying" a horse traces its etymology to the thirteenth century, when the term was adopted from the French. Running this tool over the horse loosened dirt and hair, and the groom would use a stiff-bristled "dandy brush" (in our man's left hand) to removed such refuse. Wearing a jockey-like cap, this groom clearly took pride in his work, and perhaps contributed to an upset like "I'll Have Another"'s victory at this year's Derby...

*Like most tintypes, this image is reversed, so technically he holds the comb in his right hand and the brush in his left. But it gets confusing to describe it this way.

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