Sunday, October 25, 2015

Not driving horses

I know it’s happened to all of you.  You look at something over and over and over again and then, for whatever reason, you look at it again and see something new.  Case in point is this photograph of two gentlemen in a carriage.


Not much to go on, right?  So I just kept pushing it aside until today when – duh – I turned it over and saw this.


Oh look at that – and in my grandmother’s handwriting, no less!  Abe and Gus Gunzendorfer, Father and Uncle of Mildred Loraine Levy, Taken about 1890.  That all makes sense.  But not driving horses?  These guys look like they’re driving horses to me.

So I enlarged the photo so I could get a good look at them and saw this.


Nice looking men but are they Gustave and Abraham?  Grandma, what does “not driving horses” mean?

Here’s photos of Abe and Gustave from the late 1800s.  Are they the same people?

Abraham Gunzendorfer Ernest H Price Photog Pacific Grove
Abraham Gunzendorfer
Ernest H. Price Photographer
208 Forest Avenue
Pacific Grove

I don’t know the year this photo was taken but it doesn’t look to be the same man who is “not driving horses” in the photo above.

Gustave Gunzendorfer Jones_Lotz Photographer cropped
Gustave George Gunzendorfer
Elite – Jones & Lotz Photographer
838 Market Street
San Francisco, Cal.

Now this photograph gives me a little more to go on since I was able to find that the photographer operated on Market Street from 1878-1905.  So the time frame fits.  But is it the same guy who is “not driving horses” above?  Seems like a stretch to me.

So just what does “not driving horses” even mean?  Was there another photograph that Grandma was referencing and she wrote it on the back of the wrong photo?  I love it when she leaves me bread crumbs but sure wish she’d left a better trail this time.


  1. Debi, I think the man on the right could be the same man as the thinner man in the portrait. Maybe. It's a little hard to tell but in both photos the man (or men, if they're not the same) appear to have the similar ears and eyebrows. I think it's hard to tell definitively because the man in the buggy is smiling and the man in the portrait is serious.

    I don't think the man on the left in the carriage is the same man as in the second portrait. The ears are different.

    Maybe whoever wrote on the back wrote from memory (or assumption). If looking at the original photo, without being able to enlarge it, it would be hard to tell for sure who the men are. I hope you can learn more!

  2. Maybe "not driving horses" meant they were just standing still, maybe just posing for fun. As for the 2 men, that is indeed a puzzle. The real Abe looks heavier than the "Maybe Abe" and the real Gustav looks thinner than the "Maybe Gustav." If there were many years between the sets of photos, I'd say yes, they are the same, but being in the same time frame makes it harder to be sure.

  3. I think they COULD be the same men, but I am not sure. And not driving horses?? Yikes, that is a head scratcher. I think Wendy has the right idea though. They were posing. Not actually driving.

  4. In my own collection of family photos are several of my grandma and her siblings mounted on a pony in front of their house, but I know her family never owned one. Photographers would use horses, buggies and automobiles as props to get people to pose for and buy photographs and otherwise drum up their trade and yes, these were live animals. In the last of my photos there is a wet spot under the pony that wasn't there before!

  5. It is a beautifully clear photograph for 1890. You have taken good care of it. Not sure what 'not driving horses' means but I love the photo.

  6. Oh boy! That is a mystery. What a super fun photo though! I suppose they could be the same men. I was trying to compare their ears, since facial hair can change as well as weight, but ears stay the same right? Anyway, great photo!

  7. Abe is not driving the horses, as the reins are in the other man's hands. Ergo, Gus is driving the horses.

    1. OH MY GOODNESS, Esther - I think you have hit the nail on the head. Especially since she wrote "not driving horses" over Abe's name. Thank you!

  8. I was going to say the same thing as Esther.

  9. Debi,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!