A few nights ago, I needed to unwind with something entertaining but informative yet not overly technical. So, I reached for this book:
Louisville: Murder and Mayhem: Historic Crimes of Derby City. It is based on actual events; well written yet not the most scholarly work around. Being fascinated with my home town's Victorian history, this was just the diversion I needed. The title of the selection "Your Friendly Neighborhood Pornographer" caught my interest. It was about a Louisville man, Henry Zinc, who the US Post Office caught peddling nude images of women through the mail in 1893. His partner was allegedly "well known" local photographer Walter Elrod. Elrod denied the charge but said that nearly every other photographer in town was involved in the trade and that the only images he ever gave Zinc were "works of art" having been given to him by a friend. I immediately recognized the name "Elrod," though, as being present in my stash of antique photographs. Suddenly, what had seemed to be a rather plain image of a late 19th Century Louisville woman had more of a story attached:
For years, I have had an image from the alleged pornographer's studio- only a a quick bicycle ride from where I currently live. Her dress indicates the photo was taken in the 1880s or early 1890s- right at the time he was accused of having operated in "the business."
Yours & c.
The Victorian Man