George A. Vallet – Kingston, New York Photographer

August 05, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Introduction

 

George A. Vallet was a prominent photographer at the city of Kingston in Ulster County, New York from the 1850s to the early 1880s. Vallet began his photography career around 1852 and took over the gallery of Robert H. Hill in 1857, offering photographs utilizing the daguerreotype process, which was the original photographic process. Over the next several decades, as photographic technology evolved, Vallet remained current with the times, offering ambrotypes, ferrotypes (tintypes, melainotypes), stereoscopic views, cartes de visite and much more. Vallet is considered one of the great photographers in Kingston history.

 

 

Portrait, Young Man, by George A. Vallet, Kingston, NYPortrait, Young Man, by George A. Vallet, Kingston, NY

Portrait, Young Man, by George A. Vallet. Author's collection.

 

Biography

 

George Ambler Vallet was born on November 14, 1833, the son of Benjamin Franklin Vallet (1813-1852) and Maria (Copp) Vallet. Benjamin was born on February 3, 1813 at Kinderhook in Columbia County, New York; and was christened at the Reformed Dutch Church in Kinderhook on December 2, 1821.

 

Benjamin and Maria married in 1834 at Kingston, New York. Benjamin worked as a silversmith and as a jeweler. B. F. Vallet advertised his services in the local newspaper in 1837, providing a long list of goods for sale. Examples included watches, clocks, tea and coffee pots, knives and forks, silver and plated spoons, plated candle sticks and castors, spectacles, razors, pen knives and much more. The advertisement also stated that Vallet could repair clocks and watches. His business was located on North Front Street, at the head of Wall Street, in the city of Kingston.

 

Benjamin was a member of several fraternal organizations at the city of Kingston. He was a founding member of the Kosciusko Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, formed on May 10, 1843. He was also a member of the Excelsior Encampment, No. 21, and the Aretas Lodge, No. 172, both of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

 

The 1850 United States census listed George A. Vallet as living at Kingston village in Ulster County, New York with his parents Benjamin and Maria. Benjamin was listed with an occupation of Jeweler. Sixteen-year-old George, getting an early start in business, was also listed with an occupation of Jeweler. Also listed as living in the house were 13-year-old Maria Vallet, 9-year-old Henriette Vallet, 7-year-old Jane Vallet, 3-year-old William Vallet and 1-year-old Franklin Vallet.

 

William M. Vallette (1847-1922), George’s brother, is noted for having enlisted during the Civil War as a drummer boy in Company B, 20th Regiment, New York State Militia, when he was only 13 years old. After the war he was affectionately known by residents of Kingston as “Major.” He was very active in the affairs of Civil War Veterans, including being a popular member of the Pratt Post, Grand Army of the Republic (G. A. R.), serving as secretary and treasurer. Until a few years before his death, “he took great interest in playing the snare drum and was always willing to teach young men to handle the drum sticks and organize drum corps.”[1] He later worked in the insurance industry and served many years as the clerk to the city assessor. William passed away on April 26, 1922 and is buried with his brother at Wiltwyck Cemetery in Kingston, New York.

 

Benjamin, George’s father, passed away at 39 years of age on March 23, 1852. He is buried at Wiltwyck Cemetery in Kingston, New York. His gravestone was “erected by members of the Kosciusko Lodge No. 86.”

 

Benjamin’s jewelry and silversmith business was purchased by John Vignes, Jr. from Vallet’s estate. John Vignes, Sr. was a native of France, where he had learned the trade of watchmaker. John Vignes Sr. came from a prosperous French family, with one brother who served as a general in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte, one brother who was a physician and one brother who owned a large vineyard. He had emigrated, along with John Choilet, his cousin, from France to the United States during the Napoleonic Wars.

 

John Vignes, Sr. had founded his business at Kingston around 1820. He died in 1850, and his son, John Vignes, Jr. continued with the trade, buying out the Benjamin F. Vallet’s business from his heirs. Vignes, Jr. would be succeeded in 1876 by his son James A. Vignes, who, in turn, was succeeded by his son, Everett A. Vignes. Everett was of the fourth generation of the family to follow the jewelry and watchmaking trade in Kingston, a family business that lasted for well over 100 years.

 

An advertisement published in The Daily Freeman in 1872 noted that Vallet “had an experience of over twenty years” in the photography business This would place the beginning of Vallet’s photographic career around 1852, when he was 19 years old. With the death of his father in 1852, and the subsequent sale of his father’s business, it is possible that Vallet had soon after switched careers from jeweler to that of photographer.

 

An article published in 1910 by the Kingston Daily Freeman talked of a photograph taken by Vallet in 1853. Vallet would have been 20 years old at that time.

 

“An Old Picture. In the window of the confectionary store of Frederick Lynes on Wall street is a picture of the old Excelsior Hose Company, No. 4, which was organized back in the 30’s. The picture was taken by George Vallett in 1853 from the window of his photographic gallery on the second floor of a building where the Herbert Carl Dry Good Company’s establishment is now located on North Front street at the head of Wall street. The company was grouped about their old hand engine in Wall street when they were snapped by the camera.

 

Their engine house was located on John street near Green street and they numbered 65 active and 40 honorary members. Only a few of this old-time brigade of flame quenchers now survive. Among them are Gillead A. Smith and Bernard McBride of this city and James Van Vleet of Brooklyn.

 

The 1855 New York State census listed Vallet as living in his mother’s house in the 2nd Election District of the town of Kingston. His mother was listed with an occupation of “Boarders,” i.e., keeping a boarding house. She likely undertook this new business after the passing of her husband Benjamin in 1852. George was listed with an occupation of Artist. Vallet was possibly working for R. H. Hill at this time, as he was a pupil of Hill’s and would take over Hill’s gallery two years later in 1857. Also living in the house were George’s siblings Antoinette, Henrietta, Jane, William and Franklin.

 

Vallet, of Kingston, married Mary Ann Hopkins, of Saugerties, on May 7, 1857. The ceremony took place at Saugerties and was officiated by Reverend M. Linn.

 

An 1857 newspaper advertisement noted that Vallet was the successor to photographer R. H. Hill. Vallet continued to operate this gallery at 72 North Front Street, in J. D. Wilson’s New Brick Building. Hill had operated the gallery at least since 1850, according to advertisements in the local newspaper.

 

Robert H. Hill (1812-1880) was the brother of Levi L. Hill (1816-1865), a minister and photographer, who in 1850 claimed to have invented a color photographic process. The claim was met with skepticism at the time and for the next 150 years, but was proven true in 2007 through a 6-month scientific study conducted by National Museum of American History.

 

It is interesting that Robert referred to his brother Levi’s supposed invention in a section of an 1857 newspaper advertisement. “All Daguerreotypes taken at the Gallery after this date may be re-taken in the natural colors for the mere cost of the materials, as soon as the process is made public, the subscriber having secured the exclusive right for Ulster County.”[2] This section of the advertisement was likely in response to prospective clients putting off having their picture taken for they had heard that a new color process had been invented, and preferred their likeness made in color.

 

Vallet was a pupil of Mr. Hill and “has been in practice some time. We once had some knowledge of this business, and have retained sufficient, we think, to enable us to judge a good Picture or a Daguerreotype operator who understands his business. Therefore, we can, with confidence state that Mr. Vallet’s pictures come up to the standard of first-class work. Consequently, the old customers of the establishment, and all others, can feel secure in having pictures equal in superiority to those which have made Mr. Hill’s rooms the general resort for good likenesses.”[3]

 

In October 1858 Vallet displayed his pictures at the Ulster County Fair. The pictures “received much notice, and were highly praised by all. They certainly were well finished, and taken in a most life-like manner.”[4]

 

In the late 1850s Vallet advertised extensively in the local newspapers. The business was originally described as a partnership under the name of “Vallet & Co.,” but that partnership “was dissolved in March [1858], and the interest of my partner purchased by me. I am now alone.” It is unclear who the partner was at this point.

 

April 24, 1857 advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“Geo. A. Vallet & Co.’s Daguerrean Rooms. Colored Daguerreotype Likenesses, Ambrotypes, Crayon Pictures, Photographs, Stereoscopes & Chromotints.

 

The subscribers, successors to R. H. Hill, would respectfully inform the inhabitants of Kingston, and all those visiting this place, that they continue the Gallery at 72 North Front Street, in J. D. Wilson’s New Brick Building, where has been elegantly fitted up large and spacious rooms with all the improvements of the age, and with the LARGEST SKY-LIGHT between New York and Buffalo. They will be happy to wait upon those wishing a beautiful and colored Life-Like Miniature.

 

You are invited to call and examine their Specimens and mode of Operating, and if suited, to sit for your Likeness. Persons will not be expected to take their Miniatures unless entire satisfaction is given; but if the Likeness is taken from the Room, it will not be exchanged for less than fifty cents. The subscribers’ long experience in The Daguerrean Art, gives them the fullest confidence that they will be able to please all who favor them with a call. All work done at this establishment warranted fadeless and of the best order. Being permanently located, they are desirous of building up a reputation for Style, Cheapness and Durability.

 

PRICES – From $1 to $15, according to size and style of Case or frame; in Lockets $1. Those having poor Impressions can have them re-taken for 75 cents.

 

Ambrotypes – These are a new and beautiful style of miniatures, and by far excel anything before made in light and shade; they are only to be seen to be admired. Price the same as Daguerreotypes. They are made on pure crystal glass, and are more durable than any other miniature, as no acid will remove or inure them. They are taken in much less time than other pictures, so bring on the children.

 

Stereoscopes – These are produced by making two pictures at different angles, and after being placed in a stereoscope case a most wonderful effect is produced and the subject stands out like life itself.

 

For Sick or Deceased Persons, A HOUSE or LANDSCAPE where it is necessary to remove the Apparatus, $5.

 

GOLD LOCKETS always on hand and for sale Cheap.

 

FULL INSTRUCTIONS in the Art given on reasonable terms, to those wishing to engage in the business.

 

STOCK – All kinds of Operator’s Stock furnished at New York prices.

 

GEO. A. VALLET & CO.

 

Kingston, March 20, 1857.”

 

September 18, 1857 Advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“Pictures for the Million. Daguerreotypes at Reduced Prices. The undersigned, at their Daguerrean Rooms, No. 72 North Front Street, are now taking superior Ambrotypes at the exceedingly low price of 50 CENTS, put up in cases of the most unique and recent styles.

 

Pictures are taken in all kinds of weather, from 8 A. M., to 6 P. M., and executed in all cases so as to give entire satisfaction.

 

N. B. Pictures taken for sick or disabled persons at their residences.

 

GEO. A. Vallet & Co.

 

Kingston, Sept. 9, 1857.”

 

September 25, 1857 Advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“Now is the Time. If any one, for a moment, doubts the superior taste and skill of Geo. A. Vallet, in producing a beautiful picture and first-rate likeness of the original, all that is necessary to do is to stop into his Room and sit down, and in a short time all doubt will be removed. If the person is not suited, the picture need not be taken, and no harm is done. Mr. Vallet is now putting likenesses in small cases for 50 cents each. Who will grudge that amount for a little one, which if taken would make the representative invaluable to the parent.”

 

February 12, 1858 (1857-1858 advertisement), The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“OBSERVE. AMBROTYPES, LARGE SIZE, FOR FIFTY CENTS, Case Included, at G. A. Vallet & Co’s, 72 North Front Street.

 

CITIZENS AND STRANGERS, your attention is respectfully invited to the following remarkable reduction in prices. (Come and examine, and see for yourself.) Large sizes, twice the size ever offered before, for 50 cents. Extra large size or 1/4, for $1.50. Double extra size for $3.00, and all others in proportion.

 

If you would secure a likeness of your family or friends, you now have a rare opportunity to do so. What a treasure is a life like miniature of a deceased and departed friend; which, when looked at, call to mind all the associations incident to human life – besides being a valuable keepsake, and a memento that the person would not part with for any consideration. Come and see, and have your own taken and bring your friends with you.

 

Pictures taken as well in cloudy as fair weather; and no picture offered unless entire satisfaction is given.

 

N. B. Pictures put in Lockets for 50 cents.

 

GEO. A. VALLET & CO.

 

Kingston, Dec. 11, 1857.”

 

February 26, 1858 advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

           “A GREAT GIFT!

 

Come and See for Yourselves. A SPLENDID large size paper Mache CASE AND PICTURE, valued at $15, to be given for a dollar picture, at Vallet & Co’s, 72 North Front Street.

 

Each purchaser will receive a ticket to draw the case; to be drawn for in one month. There will be no risk in trying, as you will receive full value in the Picture you purchase, and a ticket for the great gift.

 

Pictures taken from 50 cts. To $5, and all warranted to give entire satisfaction. Hours for operating from 9 o’clock, A. M., to 5 o’clock, P. M.

 

GEO. A. VALLET & Co. Kingston, February 22, 1858.”

 

April 28, 1858 advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“The Picture Gallery of Mr. Geo. A. Vallet, (late Hill’s,) in North Front Street, is well worthy of a visit from an admirer of the arts. A new style of likenesses, recently produced by Mr. V., we consider a beautiful and an important improvement in the “Sun-painting” business. The picture has the appearance of standing out, giving it a fullness, to attain which heretofore has been the great difficulty with Daguerreans. We once had some knowledge of this business, and can therefore judge of the skill in it. Those who desire a good and life-like likeness should give Mr. Vallet a call.”

 

April 23, 1858 advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

         “VALLET’S GALLERY, (FORMERLY HILL’S,) Wilson Building, 72 North Front St.,

 

Can supply in an instant an imperishable image of husband or wife, child or parent, or friend, which may, by the accidents of life become the fondest treasure and memento of the heart. It is the veritable reflection of the original, truthful as He who said “let there be light” painted by light itself.

 

The firm of Geo. A. Vallet & Co., was dissolved in March, and the interest of my partner purchased by me. I am now alone, and will spare no exertion to secure for the prosecution of the Art which has been my study and undivided pursuit for years, every discovery made by science. The ordinary Daguerreotype has been succeeded by the AMBROTYPE, MELAINOTYPE AND PHOTOGRAPH.

 

These are all decided advances in faithful portraitures and their beauty as mere pictures. Specimens of the several styles can be seen at my Gallery, to which I give a general public invitation.

 

The prices vary with the size and style from $5 down to 50 cents, and the Cases are of a rare variety, from a plain Morocco to the richest pearl and tortoise.

 

Hours of operating, sunny and cloudy days being equally favorable now, from 8 A. M. to 5 P. M. Terms reasonable for landscapes or pictures of the dead.

 

Vallet’s Gallery has been completely refurnished, and by the opening of an ample side light, the facilities for taking brilliant pictures are much increased.

 

GEORGE A. VALLET.

 

Kingston, April 1st, 1858.”

 

Vallet's GalleryVallet's GalleryPhotographer: George A. Vallet
Location: 72 North Front Street, Kingston, Ulster County, New York
Year: 1858

“VALLET’S GALLERY, (FORMERLY HILL’S,) Wilson Building, 72 North Front St.,

Can supply in an instant an imperishable image of husband or wife, child or parent, or friend, which may, by the accidents of life become the fondest treasure and memento of the heart. It is the veritable reflection of the original, truthful as He who said “let there be light” painted by light itself.

The firm of Geo. A. Vallet & Co., was dissolved in March, and the interest of my partner purchased by me. I am now alone, and will spare no exertion to secure for the prosecution of the Art which has been my study and undivided pursuit for years, every discovery made by science. The ordinary Daguerreotype has been succeeded by the AMBROTYPE, MELAINOTYPE AND PHOTOGRAPH.

These are all decided advances in faithful portraitures and their beauty as mere pictures. Specimens of the several styles can be seen at my Gallery, to which I give a general public invitation.

The prices vary with the size and style from $5 down to 50 cents, and the Cases are of a rare variety, from a plain Morocco to the richest pearl and tortoise.

Hours of operating, sunny and cloudy days being equally favorable now, from 8 A. M. to 5 P. M. Terms reasonable for landscapes or pictures of the dead.

Vallet’s Gallery has been completely refurnished, and by the opening of an ample side light, the facilities for taking brilliant pictures are much increased.

GEORGE A. VALLET.

Kingston, April 1st, 1858.”

 

June 25, 1858, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“The new and improved style of Ambrotypes, with grained and receded background, now produced by Geo. A. Vallet, photographist, of this village are truly beautiful and the admiration of all who observe them. See Mr. Vallet’s advertisement in another column of the Press.”

 

July 23, 1858 advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

         “Improved Ambrotype.

 

The undersigned has discovered a new process of Ambrotyping, by which the picture is THROWN OUT FROM A GRAINED GROUND, and represented in a perfectly life-like position.

 

He would therefore invite all persons interested in this art, to call and examine specimens of his work. He feels confident that his discovery is superior to anything ever before offered in the Daguerrean art FOR REPRESENTING LIFE ITSELF in the Picture. The price of pictures taken by the IMPROVED PROCESS, is from $1.00 upwards, according to size and style of cases.

 

G. A. VALLET, No. 72 North Front St.”

 

April 25, 1859 advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“VALLET’S Photograph and Ambrotype Gallery, 72 North Front Street, over Wilson’s Hat and Cap store. Photographs copied from Ambrotypes and Daguerreotypes to a small size or large as life, and finished in oil water colors. Family groups and children’s likenesses beautifully taken for 50 cts. To $7.”

 

April 26, 1859, The Daily Chronicle (Kingston, New York).

 

“Vallet’s Photographs.– Mr. Vallet, of North Front street, is taking photograph likenesses, which are the most beautiful counterparts of the human face we ever saw. They far excel, in all the essentials of a good picture, the most elaborate and artistic oil paintings. In point of life-likeness, graphicness, mellowness of tone and brilliancy of coloring, they are unequalled by anything of the sort in these localities. Go to Vallet’s, and examine his specimens, and then get one for yourself, and our word for it you will like it.

 

Mr. Vallet is now prepared to take photographs of life size, and also take copies of ambrotypes and daguerreotypes of the smallest locket size, so that the copies shall be of any size from small and medium to life size.”

 

September 16, 1859, The Daily Chronicle (Kingston, New York).

 

“Vallet’s Ferotypes.–We have been shown one of the Ferotypes taken by Mr. Geo. Vallet of North Front Street. We would remark, by way of explanation, that a Ferotype is a picture taken on a prepared iron plate. They possess at least one advantage over those taken on glass – they are not easily broken. Some artists also think that they yield a cleaner and better defined picture. The picture shown us is a very good one, and if it is a fair specimen, Mr. Vallet’s pictures will undoubtedly be received with considerable favor by the public.”

 

September 26, 1859 advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“NOTICE – The only place where Griswold’s Patent Ferrotypes are taken is at VALLET’S Gallery, 72 North Front Street, and have only been taken by me for a short time. GEO. A. VALLET.”           
 

December 15, 1859 Advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

           “One dollar photographs. One dollar photographs. One dollar photographs.

 

           Fifty cent Ambrotypes. Fifty cent Ambrotypes. Fifty cent Ambrotypes.

 

           At Vallet’s First Premium Picture Gallery, 72 North Front St., Kingston, N.Y.”

 

December 29, 1859, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“The Holidays are Coming, so are Christmas and New Year. Young gents – If you wish to make a very acceptable present to your particular friends, just give me a call, at my Gallery, and have your very good looking phis taken, put in one of those superior cases just received at Vallet’s.

 

Old Gents – If you wish to make a valuable present to your family – something that will be highly prized, and something that will not get to be an old thing, give Vallet a call, at his Gallery, No. 72 North Front st., and have a superb Ambrotype, Photograph or any other style of picture you wish, ever taken by Daguerrean Artists. Vallet can suit all, so come one, come all.

 

Ambrotypes from 50 cts. To $5.00.

 

Photographs from $1.00 upwards.”

 

March 8, 1860 (1859-1860 advertisement), The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

           “For 30 Days, Ambrotypes in Cases, at Vallet’s Gallery, For 30 cents.

 

           SOMETHING NEW At Vallet’s Gallery, 72 North Front St.

 

GRISWOLD’S PATENT FERROTYPE PICTURES, Which far excel all others now taken and are warranted to stand all kinds of climate and weather. They are only seen to be admired. Call and see, and you will soon be satisfied that they are just what you want.

 

GEO. A. VALLET, Kingston, Sept. 10th, 1859.”

 

May 3, 1860 advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“Young Lady, Do you wish to please that young Gent, who we have seen paying you particular attention? Given him the privilege of having an impression of that lovely face of yours. Go with him to VALLET’S and sit for a picture.”

 

Portrait, Young Girl, by George A. Vallet, Kingston, NYPortrait, Young Girl, by George A. Vallet, Kingston, NY

Portrait, Young Girl, by George A. Vallet. Author's collection.

 

The 1860 United States census listed George, his wife and their newborn, one month-old daughter Viola living at Kingston in Ulster County, New York. George was listed with an occupation of Daguerrean Artist.

 

In 1860 Vallet moved his gallery from 72 North Front Street to a new location at 94 North Front Street, over Shaw’s Shoe Store. There, “he has fitted up a very fine light for his business. We have seen some likenesses taken at the new place which were of a superior order in every respect.”[5]

 

October 4, 1860 Advertisement, The People’s Press (Kingston, New York).

 

“WASHINGTON AMBROTYPE, PHOTOGRAPH AND NEILOGRAPH GALLERY, No. 94 North Front St., at the head of Wall.

 

HAVING removed from 72 North Front St. to my NEW GALLERY, 94 North Front St., over Shaw’s Shoe Store, and at the head of Wall Street, (with only one pair of Stairs to ascend,) I am now ready to receive visitors and to furnish them with a Photograph, Ambrotype, Melainotype, or Neilograph, superior to any ever made. Having a very powerful light, I am prepared to take children’s pictures in one half less time than heretofore. I am making pictures which cannot be beat, and would invite all to call at my New Gallery and see for themselves.

 

Pictures taken at prices to suit the times, as I am to be undersold.

 

REMEMBER THE PLACE – No. 94 North Front St., (head of Wall.)

 

Only look for WASHINGTON and the big Banner on the top of the building.

 

GEORGE A. VALLET.”

 

Washington Ambrotype, Photograph, and Neilograph Gallery by George A. ValletWashington Ambrotype, Photograph, and Neilograph Gallery by George A. ValletPhotographer: George A. Vallet
Location: 94 North Front Street, Kingston, Ulster County, New York
Year: 1860

“WASHINGTON AMBROTYPE, PHOTOGRAPH AND NEILOGRAPH GALLERY, No. 94 North Front St., at the head of Wall.

HAVING removed from 72 North Front St. to my NEW GALLERY, 94 North Front St., over Shaw’s Shoe Store, and at the head of Wall Street, (with only one pair of Stairs to ascend,) I am now ready to receive visitors and to furnish them with a Photograph, Ambrotype, Melainotype, or Neilograph, superior to any ever made. Having a very powerful light, I am prepared to take children’s pictures in one half less time than heretofore. I am making pictures which cannot be beat, and would invite all to call at my New Gallery and see for themselves.

Pictures taken at prices to suit the times, as I am to be undersold.

REMEMBER THE PLACE – No. 94 North Front St., (head of Wall.)

Only look for WASHINGTON and the big Banner on the top of the building.

GEORGE A. VALLET.”

 

Vallet marketed his gallery in an 1861 newspaper advertisement in The Rondout Freeman.

 

“Vallet’s Photograph Gallery!!

 

Head of Wall Street, Kingston.

 

The Fine ARTS fully Represented at this Establishment.

 

Large Photographs!! Only $1 – duplicates of the same, half price.

 

CARD VISITES – four for $1 – or one dozen for $2.50. These visites are something new and decidedly handsome. The proof given by a call.

 

Card Photographs!! Or Heads – twenty-four for $1.

 

Pictures copied and enlarged from small pictures and colored.

 

Prices very Low. Work warranted; and no charge made for a look at the array of specimens always hanging in the gallery.

 

Kingston, October 3, 1861.”

 

An 1862 advertisement in the local newspaper described the wide range of products available at Vallet’s gallery.

 

           “Vallet’s Photograph Gallery!

            Head of Wall St., Kingston, N.Y.

 

Large Photographs! Carte de Visites! Vignettes! Ambrotypes, and all other style of Pictures taken in the very best style.

 

Oval GILT FRAMES for sale very CHEAP.

 

A LARGE assortment of Photograph Albums for sale at Low Rates.

 

Card Photographs of Miss Lavinia Warren and Commodore Nutt. The smallest man and woman in the world. For sale at 25 cents each.

 

GEO. A VALLET.”

 

In 1863 Vallet briefly operated a branch location at the village of Saugerties. The Saugerties Telegraph carried the following advertisement.

 

           “Photographs and Card de Visites!

 

Having taken the Rooms of Mr. JERNEGAN for a short time, for the purpose of making PHOTOGRAPH PICTURES! I would respectfully invite the people of Saugerties to Call and Examine Specimens of Work at the Gallery, and if

 

The work will be under the charge of Mr. Jas. Beekman.

 

Satisfaction guaranteed in all cases or Pictures re-taken without extra charge.

 

GEO. A. VALLET. Saugerties, April 27th, 1863.

 

Mr. Jernegan will remain at the rooms to take Ambrotypes as usual.”

 

The 1865 New York State census listed Vallet as residing in the 2nd Election District in the city of Kingston. He was listed with an occupation of Artist. Also living in the household was Mary A., his wife; Viola, his 5-year-old daughter; Frances, his 2-year-old daughter; and Ellen Riley, a 19-year-old servant from Ireland.

 

Vallet marketed his gallery in an 1865 newspaper advertisement in The Rondout Freeman.

 

           “Vallet’s Photograph and Ambrotype Gallery, Wall Street, Kingston, N.Y.

 

Cart de Visites, Vignettes, Ambrotypes, Photographs, Gems, Porcelains and all other styles of pictures.

 

The largest assortment of OVAL FRAMES, PHOTOGRAPH ALBUMS, CARD PICTURES for sale in the County. Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes copied in Card Pictures and large Photographs, and colored in Oil, India Ink and Water colors.

 

Cards, $1.40 1/2 dozen; $2.50 per dozen.

Vignettes, $1.65 1/2 dozen; $3 per dozen.

Children’s Cards, $2 1/2 dozen; $3 per dozen.

 

Please call and see for yourself. Square Frames of ROSEWOOD, BLACK WALNUT and GILT. Made to Order.

 

GEORGE A. VALLETT.”

 

In 1865 and 1866 Vallet, now located at 12 Wall Street, advertised his services in the local newspaper The Rondout Freeman.

 

“VALLET’S PHOTOGRAPH GALLERY, 12 WALL St., Kingston, N.Y.

 

Porcelains, Ambrotypes, Card Pictures, Gems, Photograph Albums, Oval Frames, Rose and Gilt, Black Walnut and Gilt Frames made to order.

 

4 Carte de Visites, $1.00, 12 for $2.00

4 Vignettes, $1.25, 12 for $2.50

Duplicate Cart de Visites, $1.50 per doz.

Duplicate Vignettes, $2.00 per doz.

 

Specimens can be seen at Knapp’s Drug Store.

 

GEO. A. VALLET, Rondout, Nov. 17th, 1865.”

 

The Rondout Freeman wrote in the November 22, 1865 issue about Vallet’s work. “Geo. A. Vallett, of Kingston, a very successful and excellent artist, has shown us some very fine specimens of porcelaintypes, which for clearness and delicacy of finish equal any that we have ever seen. He has placed a number of his specimens on exhibition at Knapp’s Drug Store where they can be examined by our citizens. Mr. Vallet meets with great success in making pictures in all branches of the art.”

 

In 1867 The Rondout Freeman published another Vallet advertisement in their December 4, 1867 issue.

 

           “Vallett’s New Photograph Gallery, Newkirk Building, Division Street, Rondout, N.Y.

 

The citizens of Rondout and county are invited to call and examine the specimens of this establishment, where they will find the best Pictures and the most complete Photograph Gallery in the County.

 

Pictures of all kinds known in the Photographic art taken IN THE VERY BEST MANNER.

 

Large Photographs, Cartes de visite, Vignettes, Ambrotypes, Gems, Bon-Tons, Tintypes and Porcelain Pictures.

 

Pictures taken in cloudy as well as in clear weather, and particular attention given to taking copies, Groups and Children’s pictures.

 

Gallery open from 8 o’clock A. M. until 5 o’clock P. M.

 

GEO. A. VALLETT, Artist.”

 

The 1870 United States census listed Vallet as residing in the village of Rondout, Ulster County. He was listed with an occupation of Photographer. Also in the household was Mary Ann, his wife; Viola, his 10-year-old daughter; and Frances, his 8-year-old daughter.

 

In July 1872 Vallet advertised his services in the local newspaper The Daily Freeman.

 

“VALLET’S PHOTOGRAPH GALLERY, 12 Wall Street.

 

           Large Photographs, Card de Visites, Imperials, Shadow Pictures and Tin Types Taken.

               

           Pictures of all kinds copied and finished in oil, water colors or India Ink.

 

Having had an experience of over twenty years, in which I gained a reputation which is well known to the citizens of this city and county, I flatter myself I can take pictures which will please the sitter and be second to none.

 

           GEO. A. VALLET.”

 

The August 31, 1872 issue of the Kingston Daily Freeman carried the following Vallet advertisement.

 

“A Fine Picture. We were very much surprised on being shown an imperial photograph, colored in India ink, of Mr. William Bonner, to learn that it was produced at Vallet’s gallery in Wall street, western district. The entire picture is done in perfect taste and is much better, in every way, than we imagined home photographers could produce.”

 

The September 17, 1872 issue of the Kingston Daily Freeman carried the following advertisement.

 

“All persons wishing photographs and picture frames should call on Geo. A. Vallet, at his old Gallery, No. 12 Wall St.”

 

In December 1872 Vallet placed an advertisement in the New Paltz Times.

 

           “VALLETT’S PHOTOGRAPH GALLERY, No. 12 Wall Street, City of Kingston.

           Large Photographs for $1.50 and $2.

           Cartes de Visite, $2.00 per dozen.

           Tintypes, for frame, 4 for 50 cents.

           Tintypes, for frame, 75c and $1 each

           Pictures finished in India Ink, Oil and Water Colors. Oval and Square Frames all sizes and styles.

           GEO. A. VALLETT, Kingston, December 16, 1872.”

 

The January 1, 1874 issue of the Kingston Daily Freeman wrote of a recent photograph taken by Vallet.

 

“George Vallett took photographs of Mr. Weiner’s turkey-Englishman yesterday, and now when they are shown people say ‘Why, it looks like Jim Cooper, don’t it?’”

 

In 1874, “Alderman Gross has had a fine picture of himself, in the uniform of Chief Engineer of the Western Fire Department, taken by George Vallet, the photographer. It is a large photograph finished in water colors and besides being a very accurate portrait of the ex-Chief, is a very handsome specimen of workmanship. It is on exhibition in Knapp’s window.”[6] The photograph was also described as a “fine colored photograph 26x30, the work having been done by Geo. A. Vallet of this city. It is a perfect likeness of the donor and a handsome adornment for the walls of the company’s rooms.”[7]

 

The 1875 New York State census listed Vallet as residing in the 7th Ward of the city of Kingston. He was listed with an occupation of Photographer. The household also included Mary A., his wife; Viola, his 15-year-old daughter; and Frances, his 12-year-old daughter.

 

The October 21, 1875 issue of the Kingston Daily Freeman carried the following advertisement.

 

           "Vallett’s Gallery, No. 12 Wall street. Four Tintypes for 50cts, or eight for 75 cts.”

 

The January 5, 1878 issue of Kingston Daily Freeman wrote of the new location for Vallet’s gallery, now in the Rondout section of the city of Kingston.

 

“George Vallett, the photographer from the upper part of the city, has leased the rooms in the VanDeusen building on The Strand where he has established a gallery.”

 

In 1878 Sherriff B. Webb had photographs taken of every sheriff of Ulster County who held the office since 1843, a period of 35 years. He “had them handsomely framed and hung up in the sheriff’s office in the court-house, over the door. The work was done by George Vallet, the photographer on Wall Street, and the likenesses are very good. Their names are: John H. Schryver, who was elected in 1843; Charles Brodhead, elected in 1846; Jacob L. Signor, in 1849; John Griffiths, in 1852; Maurice Wurts, in 1855; Abraham A. Deyo, Jr., in 1858; Davis Winne, in 1861; Simon S. Westbrook, in 1861; Cyrenius F. Brill, in 1867; John W. Kerr, in 1870; Silas Saxton, in 1873; and William B. Webb in 1876. The most of these men are living, one of them being considerable over seventy years of age.”[8]

 

The February 6, 1879 issue of the Kingston Daily Freeman wrote of the new location of Vallet’s gallery.

 

“George Vallette, the Photographer, has had the rooms over Uncle Jake Fox’s on The Strand, fitted up for a gallery, and will open them on Saturday.”

 

The 1880 United States census listed Vallet as residing in Enumeration District 126 at the city of Kingston and with an occupation of Photographer. The household also included Mary Ann, his wife; and Frances A., his 17-year-old daughter.

 

On March 6, 1880 the Kingston Daily Freeman wrote that “McEntee & Dillon have had photographs taken of the engine they have constructed for Captain Dave Hitchcock’s new steamer which is to ply between Albany and New Baltimore. George Vallett took the photographs, the engine having been set up in the shop for the purpose.”

 

On September 20, 1880 the Kingston Daily Freeman wrote that “Company D’s men are ordered to be on hand at the Armory tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock, preparatory to leaving the city for Hudson. Invited guests of the Company will join the Company at the Mansion House at about 9 o’clock, when Vallett will photograph the Company and the band.”

 

On December 22, 1880 the Kingston Daily Freeman wrote that “Vallett is making photographs of the members of one of our hose companies.”

 

In 1881 it was reported that Vallet had recently vacated his photograph gallery on The Strand. Photographer Lorenzo Short took over the space, and had it cleaned and repaired. This was to be a branch location, with Short’s primary establishment in the Newkirk building, on Union Avenue.

 

By 1883 it was reported that Vallet had left Kingston to work in Tyrone, Pennsylvania. “George A. Vallett, the well-known photographer, is in town. He is now in the employ of B. Harris at Tyrone, Pa., who employs twenty-two operatives in his business.”

 

The 1910 United States census, 11 years after George’s passing in 1899, listed his widowed, 71-year-old wife Mary living in the city of Kingston with her daughter Viola and her son-in-law William Dickinson. Mary was listed as having had two children, only one of whom was living. William, who was born in Alabama, was listed as working as a floor manager in a dry goods and clothing store.

 

Legacy

 

Vallet was once described as “one of the leading photographers in this locality in the early days of the art, having galleries in Rondout and Kingston.”

 

George A. Vallet passed away at 65 years of age in Manhattan on June 1, 1899. He is buried at Wiltwyck Cemetery in Kingston, New York. His gravestone, erected by the Wheatfield Ulster County Civil War Round Table, reads “Kingston’s Premier Civil War Photographer.”

 

Mary Ann (Hopkins) Vallet, George’s wife, died at 76 years of age after a long illness at the home of George Stoddard, on the Saugerties road, on April 12, 1916. She “had many friends among the older residents of this city.” The funeral took place at the chapel of A. Carr & Son, No. 1 Pearl Street. She was survived by one daughter, Viola Dickenson of Summit, New Jersey. She is buried with her husband at Wiltwyck Cemetery in Kingston, New York.

 

[1] Kingston Daily Freeman (Kingston, New York). April 27, 1922.

[2] The People’s Press (Kingston, New York). March 6, 1857.

[3] “Kingston Daguerrean Rooms.” The People’s Press (Kingston, New York). March 20, 1857.

[4] “Ulster County Fair.” The People’s Press (Kingston, New York). October 22, 1858.

[5] The People’s Press (Kingston, New York). May 10, 1860.

[6] “Fine Picture.” The Kingston Daily Freeman (Kingston, New York). May 25, 1874.

[7] “Presentation by Hon. John A. Gross to Kingston Hose Company, No. 2.” Kingston Daily Freeman (Kingston, New York). July 8, 1874.

[8] “Sheriffs of Ulster.” The Kingston Daily Freeman (Kingston, New York). October 28, 1878.

 


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