Biographical / Historical
The cult of celebrity is not a 20th century phenomenon. In the latter part of the 19th century innovations in the use of photography as advertising spurned a new avenue of celebrity likeness-based souvenirs. Portraits of personalities from the stage who were previously portrayed in engravings and traditional portraiture were now available to an interested public in a more realistic and affordable form – the cigar/cigarette card included as an incentive in the purchase of a smoking product and cabinet photographs sold as souvenirs by theatrical promoters. These photographs depicted celebrities as well as scenes from plays in which they performed. They were avidly collected by a public interested in the personalities of minstrelsy, vaudeville and the legitimate theatre.
This collection was created, or acquired, by Daisy Templin (1874?-1956) of Alton, Illinois. Templin was an avid collector of Victoriana and filled the home (1605 Washington Avenue) of she and her brother, Roger P. Templin (1872?-?), with furniture, ceramics, bric-a-brac and all types of predominately Victorian ephemera. She wrote that ". . . whatever interested me I bought." Her brother was a former wholesale grocery salesman in St. Louis, MO. By the time of her death, Templin had contemplated donating much of her collection to the Smithsonian Institution. Her collection was willed to her brother who donated a sizable portion of the collection (over 1,000 items) to the museum in 1958. The home she and her brother shared was demolished to make way for a shopping center in 1961.