If you search around on eBay looking for vintage memorabilia and photos, you may find a listing that has direct ties to the Northland.

The listing is a vintage cabinet photo that was taken between 1880 and 1889. It features a husband and wife and what is most interesting to me is that the couple is from Duluth the photographer imprinted on the photo was located in downtown Duluth.

The photo is listed for $14.00 and here is the basic description for the listing:

Vintage cabinet photograph of a solid couple from Duluth, Minnesota,
with dark suits and stoic expressions.
Pencilled note on reverse reads, "Ritcheys".

Photo by The Robinson Studio, 209 West Superior St., Duluth.

Card measures 4.25" x 6.5".

Blank verso with pencilled note.

The big question is just exactly who is the "solid couple" featured in the photograph? One would assume they were Duluthians in the late 1800s. The biggest clues we have are what is written on the front and back of the photo.

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First, the front features the photographer's name and address on West Superior Street. I'm not sure what "And New York" means, perhaps the photographer had a couple of studios in the United States at that time, traveling between New York and Duluth.


According to Perfect Duluth Day, the Minnesota Historical Society’s Directory of Photographers lists J. B. Robinson’s studio at 209 W. Superior St. as circa 1897.

The second big clue is what is written on the back of the photo. It looks a lot like it says "Ritchey's". I think it would be safe to assume that Ritcheys is the last name of the couple in the photo.


So did the Ritcheys live in Duluth or somewhere in the Northland 135 years ago? Where they just visiting family in the area and happened to stop into J. B. Robinson’s studio in Duluth to have their photo taken?

It would be cool to find out their full names, their history, if any family members remain in the Duluth area, etc. It would be even better to take it a step further and find out more about J.B. Robinson, the man who took the picture.

Let's solve this mystery! I bet if enough people see the photo and look at the clues, we will figure out exactly who his couple is at the very least. By the way, if you'd like to own the photo, it looks like it was sold on the morning of January 17, 2023.

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