The Story of Kaloma

familydogIf you’ve been around a fair amount of time,

you’ve probably seen this image,

or a variation of it.

Rock and roll fans probably remember it on a famous concert poster by Alton Kelley for the Vanilla Fudge around 1967.

It was a pretty common sight in ‘hippie’ pad décor until the early 1970’s —

I remember it myself as one of the posters my Uncle Dave had in his room as a teenager.

And if you’re a Wild West History buff,

wyattyou probably have seen it in a 1915 book called “I Married Wyatt Earp” —

— which was advertised the memoir of:
Josephine Sara Marcus Earp.

For decades,

the inclusion of the ‘Kaloma’ image was taken to mean that this was a picture of Josephine in her early 20’s.

It was supposedly taken in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881, by photographer C. S. Fly —

C.S. Fly was indeed known for his reproducing pictures of celebrities of the time – a1

— one of General George Armstrong Custer sold thousands of copies.

The ‘Kaloma’ picture has been used on more than one occasion in books relating to Wyatt Earp —

— in:
Wyatt Earp’s Tombstone Vendetta“,
Pioneer Jews” —

Both of these publications also identified the model as Josephine.

Many scholars throughout the years have gone along with this identification,

— partly because there is no strong evidence against it.

‘Kaloma’ does certainly resemble Josie Earp —

And, the identification with her and ‘Kaloma’ has been so pervasive,

that copies of the photo have fetched thousands of dollars–

one auctioned in 2001 sold for $2750.sheet

But today,
both the 1915 book and the image are considered by many to have been misrepresented —

The book “I Married Wyatt Earp”,
as a propped up piece of fiction,

and the picture as having originally intended as a ‘French-style’ postcard,

or as an art print.

There’s sheet music-

a piece called:
Valse Hesitante (Hesitation Waltz)”,

written by Gire Goulineaux,im

and published by Cosmopolitan Music Publishing Company,
(1367 Broadway, New York)

that was using the image in 1914–

And the imprint on what is thought to be a first mass pressing of the picture,

also from 1914,
says nothing about Mrs. Earp —

— it simply says “Kaloma Copyright 1914 P.N. Company” —

josieThe P.N. stood for the Pastime Novelty Company,

which had offices (1313 Broadway, New York) a couple doors down from the above mentioned music publisher.

So what’s the real hot skinny about ‘Kaloma’?

Josie Earp was an interesting, vivacious, and adventurous woman…

And it seems somewhat possible that Josephine might have posed for the picture, especially during her days as an aspiring actress.

But how the truth about how such an image might have worked it’s way back to New York,

— and then come to be used in both sheet music and a pseudo-biographical work is impossibly obscured by time.

Whatever the real link there is between ‘Kaloma’ and Josie Earp —

The image is beautiful one, in any case.



13 thoughts on “The Story of Kaloma

  1. Blue Brown says:

    AFTER purchasing an entire lot of Tintypes, CDV -& Early RPPC’s from a Collector of “19’th Century Clothing Styles” last year, (because I recognized Wyatt Earp, & more among them). I can now say that I have supporting Photographic Evidence that the Female Subject in the Copyrighted 1914 “KALOMA” Poster is, indeed, that Josephine Sarah Marcus in a Photograph taken in at Tombstone, Az., Circa 1880-1. Josie was better known, then, as: SADIE MANSFIELD. But getting back to the Obvious Dissonance (between the Image Origin year being given as 1880-1 -& the Copyright Year being recorded as 1914) is Very Easy To Explain: Permission was given to Use the photo as the subject of a WW1 “Pin-Up” Poster by both Sadie & Fly -in exchange for Shared Royalties. from the 1’st production run. The Copyright was all about THE BRAND -which, of course, consists of the Exotic & Mysteriously appealing “KALOMA” name! That’s the WHEN, WHERE -& HOW, my friends! To see more of The Real JOSEPHINE SARAH MARCUS (EARP) -or as WYATT & their friends 1’st Knew Her.. -& still called her.. “SADIE MANSFIELD” -For More Unpublished Images of Her, visit: This Facebook Webpage: or This One: -Thanks- BLUE!

  2. 🙂 Thank you for letting me know — the error has been corrected. 🙂

  3. Jen says:

    Very interesting post — so, no one knows for sure? Hmmm. Still, this image has always intrigued me. 🙂

  4. Photography today sometimes does not compare…very much appreciate the sheer qualities of this, yes, pun intended but more so, the audacity of model and man to pose and shoot nudes in that time period..i’m sure you’ve examined the rules of the day— were many willing to create this type of image?

    • Ret: While there certainly was a lot of nude photography being done, most of it was kept in private collections, because it was illegal in many places– including most of the U.S. — In order to avoid the legal ramifications of being called ‘obscene’ (and thus, banned) a piece had to have intrinsic or inherent ‘artistic value’, and could play to the ‘prurient’ natures. The Kaloma image was darkened after World War I, for this very reason — one could no longer see through the negligee she was wearing on most prints after 1919.

      • ahhhhhhhhhhh…..thanks for the insight. I wondered how it got thru, and whether anyone got in trouble for creating it and perhaps this is why origins are sometimes difficult to identify! I’m grateful artists push the envelope— musicians, photographers, painters, writers….all of them…rebels (whether they know it or not) striving to express themselves….and we reap the benefits…

  5. Beautiful! Early nude or revealing photography is very interesting.

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