Ordinary Individuals (The 1840s)


Figure 1.--Here we have an exceptional 1/6 plate Daguerreotype portrait of a boy who looks to be about 12-13 years old. It is one of the earliest photographic portraits we have archived on HBC. It is an extremely high quality image with wonderful detail to the boy and his attire. An expert has estimated the date at 1847.

We know much more about the 1840s than earlier decades because of the rapid spread of the new photographic process. The first commercial format was the Daguerreotype. We begin to see photographs as a major part of the historical record in the 1840s, although is it not until the 1850s that the photographic images becone more common and available in larger numbers. The available dags provide wonderfully detailed images. The problem with assessing the 1840s images is that so few are actually dated. Thus it is difficult to separate the 1840s and 50s Daguerreotypes. Almost all the 1840s images are Daguerreotypes as are early 1850s images. We will attempt to date these images, but our assessment is very preliminary. We are not at all sure at this time how to fiferentiate 1840s and 50s dags. We welcome reader comments and insights.

Charles Delacroix (United States, 1840s)

HBC notes a minature painted portrait of Charles Delacroix, a child who we believe to be a member of a prominent New Orleans family. The portrait executed in a naive or primative style is actually quite well done. We date it to about the 1840s. The artist provides some fine details on Charles' clothing.

Thomas Smith (United States, 1840s)

This Daguerreotype portrait of a boy aboy 5 years old. The boy is named in the protective case, but the writing is difficult to make out. We seem to see Thomas Smith, but can't make out the rest of the writing. Hopefully reades will be able to pick out some of the other words. The boys wears a button up tunic with a small ruffeled collar and no bow. The portrait has been colorized. Note blue has been selected. We suspect that the color is accurate, but we are not at all sure about the shade. The portrait is undated. Ww suspect it dates to the 1840s, in part because of the simple brass frame plate. More prate frames were common in the 1850s, althoufg this assessment is only suggestive, not definitive.

Unidentified Boy (England, 1840s)

HBC has been able to find very few English Daguerreotypes. We are not sure why. This boy is unidentified. A photographic dealer believes the dag is English because the case is an English style. It is a beautifully colorized dag. The portrait is undated, but the plane frame suggests the 1840s to us. The boy looks to be about 3-years old. The boy wears what might be called a kilt suit, although the skirt has no kilt detailing. He has a lace collar. The kilt suit is green. The vest he is wearing is colored blue. We are not sure just how accurate this depiction is. We suspect that the colors are probably accurate, but the actual shades less so. He is wearing pantalttes. The boy's hair is tinted brown.

Noyas Children (United States, 1840s)

This is a portrait of three children. They look about 6-12 yeats old. While they are identified, we are not entirely sure about the names. This is a rare Daguerreotypre we have found where the individuals are identified. The identifification apparaently was written a few years after the Dag was taken because Louise has married and her married name is Davies. Unfortunately the writing is a little indestinct, especilly their last (family) name. We think it is Noyas, but we are not at all sure. Hopefully our HBC readers will be able to decphier the hand writing more definitively. WE are sure about Louise and Libbie, but are rather unsure about George, but the writing looks like "Geo.". We think the portrait was taken in the 1840s, but dating Dags is difficult. The portrait provides good views of the girls' dresses. One has an an open neck which was common for younger girls and the older girl has a collared neck dress. She has a detinctive necklass. The boy's suit is rather indestinct, but he has a shirt with a small collar, another common sttle.. All three children have long hair, but only the girls hair is done in ringlets.

Thomas Hardwick (United States, about 1836-50)

Thomas is named on the reverse of the wonderful silhouette as Thomas Hardwick (the brother of Mrs Fanny Upton). This is a charming full-length cut silhouette portrait. The silhouette has been cut and gilded with watercolour detailing on his collar and on the background. It is housed in a simple rosewood frame. Thomas is an American boy, although we do not know where in America he is from. He looks to be wearing a dress, although we can not see the bodice. We do note button sleeves. He also wears a cape and broad white collar. A reader mentions a pelisse coat. I'm not sure what that means. He wears socks and what look to be ankle strap shoes. In his hand he holds his tam-o'-shanter with its tassel. He was probably about 5 years old when the silhouette was made which would date it to about 1840-41. It seems poor Thomas died at school in Roundhay, Leeds in 1850 when he was just 14 years old.

Morgan, J.P.and Sisters (United States, about 1843)

J.P. Morgan is perhps themost renowned finncr in AMERICan history. He was a kinf of in-official national banker before the creation of the Federal Reserve. We notice a very early photographic portrait probably taken about 1843. He loks to be about 5-6 years old. The girls wear dresses with full skirts, the youngest has low-neckline. Pierpont wrs a kind of blouse with a frilly white collar and buttons set off in black velvet, long oants, and white sicks. This is onee of our earliest photographic images. It looks to be a CDV reproduction of a Dag. It is a very high-qulity image, probably reflecting the Morgan family's ability to aford a good sudio.

Charles S. Garlick (United States, 1840s)

This boy is Charles S. Garlick which we know thanks to a note pinned to the inside padding of a cased Daguerreotype. Unfortunately it is not dated, but we believe was taken in the 1840s. We have no idea where he lived. Charles looks to be about 8-9 years of age. Charles wears a black jacket with velvet lapels, a contrasting red vest with white dots, a bold white detachable Eton collar and bow. The Bow has a small head and wide tails. Notice the great straw hat. It loks rather like the hats worn by some modern Amish.

Summer, Clarence E. (United States, 1840s)

This wonderful Daguerreotype has a note in the case telling us that the boy's name was Clarence E. Summer. (The last name os a little indestint.) The note tells us that the boy was 16 years old. This surprised us because he looks younger. I would have guessed he was only about 13 years pld. The dag is somewhat spotted but it is avery clear image of a boy in a frock coat with wide lapels and and matching vest. The white shirt collar is indestinct, but we can clearly see a blck silk stock. His hair i cut long, almost covering his ears. The potrit is undated. We might guess the 1840s from the simplicity of th frame, but we are not at all sure about this.

Unidentified Boy (United States, 1840s)

The American boy here is unidentified and undated. We believe it was taken in the 1840s because of the clothing, but would not rule out the early 50s. The cap was similar to that worn by soldiers in the 1840s. The dag housed in a leather case is a 1/6th plate size. The boy holds a military-style cap with a large tassle. The pouty little blond boy is sitting on a tole chair. He wears a belted, lace collared tunic. Note the belt on the tunic has no practical purpose. Decorative buttons run up his shirt sleeves and dress pockets.

Unidentified Boy (United States, 1840s)

Here we have a wonderful Dagerroetype cased portrait of a mother and her young child, probably 3-4 years old. We are not sure if the child is a boy or girl, but the child looks like a boy to us. The child wears a print dress dress with a low neckline. We find it difficult to destinguosh between 1840s and 50s dags, but this one could be from the 1840s. We think the simplicity of the frame is a possible factor. The low-neckline dress is another factor. The woman's dress and hair style can also be used to date the image, but these aee not areas in which we are well informed.

Unidentified Boy (United States, 1840s)

This daguerreotype portrait shows a sharply-dressed youth, who looks to be about 13-14 years old. He is seated, holding a book, with his rather tall straw hat on a table. This image has remarkably fine sharpness and is a wonderful example of how young American teenage boys dressed in the 1840s. The portrait is undated, but we believe the clothes and the simplicity of the frame case date it to the 1840s. We welcome reader comments who know more about dating dags. He has a large white collar with a bow. The most interesting part of the portrait is the dark jacket worn with a loud plaid vest and check pants. We are unsure where his straw hat was made. We think Panama (actually Ecuadorian) hats were more associated with the 1850s after the 1848-49) California Gold Rush, so it may have been made in America. Notice the long hair worn over his ears. I think it is safe to say tht he come from a family in comfortable circumsrances. What we are not sure about is social class. We are not sure if this is how the affluent class in fashionably northeastern cities dressed or if he comes from the many growing cities and his family has just come into money. The portrait is housed in its original gutta-percha case .

Unidentified Children (United States, 1840s?)

This is an hand colored, ½ plate daguerreotype (6 ¼” by 4 ¾”) of two smiling kids standing on a chair by ANSON, NYC. Very good condition. Signed in 2 places… On the fabric pad and on the brass mat, “ANSON, 589 BROADWAY N.Y.”. The boys dress is handcolored red and the girls dress is handcolored blue and has large red ribbons. They affectionately pose for the camera, arms tenderly wrapped around each other, hugging very closely. Look at the big grin on the little girl’s face. This is a great close up shot of 2 little angels. No fear or stiffness in these kids…they look totally relaxed, almost as if they are having fun and are enjoying themselves while being photographed. Unfortunately there is a ding or dimple on the plate between their heads. There is a thin ring of tarnish near the edges of the brass frame. The brown leather case has separated at the spine and the top half has an age crack or wrinkle near the bottom and one of the eyelets is missing. This old photo is a gorgeous, expertly hand tinted, crisp and very clear portrait of childhood.

William Chifa (United States, 1840s?)

The image here is a mother and son, Sarah L. and William Chifa. Unfortunately we have no information about the family. There is, however, information associated with this Daguerreotype. We have no idea where it was taken. All we know for sxure is Sarah died in 1857. The boy's less than stylish clothes suggest that it was not in one of the developing large northeaster cities where people dressed more stylishly. We are also unsure about the date the portrait weas taken. The clothing suggests the 1840s to us, but the early 50s is possible. The boy looks to be about 11. years old. He has a shirt with a small collar and he wears a stock. He also wears a jacket unlike we have seen before. We see some influence of the frock coats worn by men as well as a hink of the smocks worn by laborors. Perhaps readers will know more about the style. Presumably it is a jacket that the boy's mother made at home. There were no readt maf=de clothes yet. This may have been a style worn in the 1840s. Or it may have been a more unique style. The mother wears a bonnet.We see quite a few women with bonnets in these early poertaits. We are not entirely sure why.

Unidentified Child (United States, 1840s)

You would think that the look this kid gave the photographer would have melted his camera and sent him running from the studio, but no, he managed to get this priceless portrait of a child who does not want a portrait taken and is about to throw a tantrum. And her parents evidently paid for the image and happily took it home. We suspect that the child was afraid od a new experience, having a portrait taken. We know nothing about the family and the child is unidentified, but we would guess about 3 years old. What we do not know is if the child is a girl or boy. There are few clues. We would tend to say a boy, excepr the center part in the 1840s strongly suggests a girl. The child wears a very plain dress with a low neckline and plain pantalettes. The dress is subtly tinted. The portrait is undates, but we would guess was taken in the 1840s, but the early 50s is quite possible. The child is standing on a cane-seated chair with an interesting Hitchcock-type stencil on the back.

Edwards, Edward D. (United States, mid-1840s)

This is a wonderful Daguerreotype portrait of Edward D. Edwards, we believe in the 1840s. One of the problems in working with Daguerreotypes is that so few are unidentified or dated. Thus we have trouble differentiating between the dags taken in the 1840s and 50s. Edward was 10 years old when this portrait was taken. It is also interesting because it was an otdoor portrait, probably because his father was a Daguerreotypeist. Edward stannds with a donkey in front of a building, presumbly his home. He wears a military-styled peaked cap. Note the shiny opeak or bill. He also wears a belted tunic. The portrait may have been lightly tinted. He holds the reins firmly and looks intently at the Daguerreotypist intently, presumbly his father. Edward was the son of early Daguerrean artist Jonas M. Edwards who wotked in both Washington, D.C. (1842-44) and New York City (18440-46). He was partners with Edward Anthoy in the Faguerreotype Studio Anthony, Edwards & Co, both in Washington and New York. There is a reference to the portrait being taken at Hunter, presumably Hunter, New York. It is a onequarter dag, housed in a full plain leather case, red silk insert.

Unidentified Family (United States, 1846-48)

A British deler offered this late 1840s (1846-48) American cased daguerreotype. It depicts eight children, presumably from the same family. They are posed according to age/size. Two of the children appear to be twins (not identical). All the boys wear suits, some with clearly visible vests. The most interesting fashion observation is that the older boys have stock neckwear and tucked in collars. The younger boys do not have neckwear and their larger collars flare out. Strangely there are only two girls who can be identified by both dress and center-hair parts. They are gently being held by their big brthers. The variety and scope of personality in this image make it an intriguing portrait. Unfortunately there is no maker's mark and no identification for the children. The back of case has a swirly radial pattern or design on it.

Unidentified Boy (United States, 1847)

Here we have an exceptional 1/6 plate Daguerreotype portrait of a boy who looks to be about 12-13 years old. It is one of the earliest photographic portraits we have archived on HBC. It is an extremely high quality image with wonderful detail to the boy and his attire. An expert has estimated the date at 1847. Unfortunately we do not know the identity of the boy. We suspect that he is from New Hampshire or other New England state. He wears a blouse with a small collar and stock. His suit jacket is accented with a bright plaid vest. His hair is combed down wekk over his wears.

Gorchakov Boys (Russia, 1848)

Prince Alexander Mikhailovich Gorchakov, later Duke Gorchakov. The Gorchakov family were aristocrats, descended from the first tsars and related to all the important aritocratic families of Russia. Prince Gorchakov was chancellor of the Russian Empire (1863-83). Prince Gorchakov devoted himself primarily to foreign affairs, but took some part in the great internal reforms of Alexander II. istorians rate him as a highly competent diplomat and credit him with some of Tsarist Russia's diplomatic succeses. He helped Russia recpver from the Crimean War diplomatically. His relationship with German Chancellor Bismarck deterioratd, leding to a break when Kaiser Wilhelm refused to renew the Reinsurance Treary that Gorchakov and Mismarck had crafted. Art was Gorchakov great passion. He collected contemporary 19th century painting from Belgium and the Netherlands. As a result, the Hermitage Amsterdam has imprtant paintings by these often unknown Belgian artists (Eurgene de Block, Theodore Fourmois, Nicaise de Keyser, Joseph Stevens, Louis Gallait and Florent Willems). Here is a portrait of the Duke's sons in 1848 by Nicaise de Keyser. The boys wear what look like tunics. Notice the short open sleeves.

Unidentified Child (United States, late 1840s)

Sometimes an image just steals your heart and that's how we feel about this winsome young child with sausage curls, home-made dress and shy expression. The child looks to be about 4 years old and we have bo idea if it is a boy or girl. The child is leaning on a book and the photographer surely told her to put her arm in a position where it could be held steady. The child seems worried about the whole, strange photography process. This is a 1/6 plate daguerreotype housed in a lovely papier mache case that has been inlaid with mother of pearl and silver wire. Each one of these cases is unique, depending on the vision of the maker. You can see how much work went into creating this design. The image is undated. We would guess that it was made in the late-1840s, but would welcome reader in-put here. It could easily have been taken in the early 50s.

Unidentified Children (United States, late 1840s)

This undated daguerreotype shows two children. We have no idea where they lived in America. As they are photographed together they most likely are brother and sister. The two children do look a bit like each other. The children are unidentified and we know nothing about the family. They look to be about 8-10 years of age. The boy wears a rather elegant suit while his sister wears a very plain dress. The suit style seems to us rather adult. We are not sure how common this was in the 1840s or 50s. That strikes us as rather unusual. We do not know much about girls clothing, but it seems to us it would be more common for a boy to be dressed more plainly. Perhaps HBC readers will have some insight here. The portrait is a 1840s or early 50S 1/6 plate daguerreotype photo in a half brown leather case. Dating dags is still a najor problem for HBC. We tend to think it is most likely a 1840s portrait, but am early 1850s portrait is possible. We don't think it was taken in the late 50s in part because we have not seen any portraits of boys dressed this way from the early 60s. In addition, dags began to decline in popularity in the mid-50s.

Dennis Children (England, 1849)

Here is an amazing period presentation of two English ninth plate daguerreotypes of children doing sums on a chalkboard. They are mounted on period gilt-paper rather than in cases which we have found in America. There is a period inscription on the reverse "Jane Elizabeth Anne Dennis age 7 years 27 May / Edward John Dennis age years 11.... 11th July / James Alexander Dennis aged 9 years 17th May / done at Highgate on the day of Thanksgiving November 15th 1849 / from the town being... relieved from Cholera / by E Dennis". The girl looks to be wearing a dress. I'm less sure what the boys are wearing. It looks to be tunic outfits or perhaps smocks worn with small white collars and bows. The dags here are unique, engaging and evocative. These beautiful little ninth plates have a dark tonality, as corresponds to their amateur origin. I would read the inscription to mean that E. Dennis, a relative and very likely the children's father, was the photographer who produced them. Front glass has been replaced.

Unidentified Boy (United States, late 1840s?)

Dating Daguerreotypes is very difficult. And unfortunately modt dags are not dated. Unlike CDVs and cabinent cards, there was no convinient back surface where the owner could scrible a note. We are guessing that this portrait was taken in the late 1840s,but it could have been taken in the 1850s. We are not yet able to make informed assesstments as to the dates of the dags. The boy here looks to be about 5-6 years old. He wears a checkered tunic. This was a popular pattern for tunics, perhaps it was similar to plaid. The outmid had a mid-sized ruffle collar and ruffled short sleeves. He wears it with a very wide leather belt. He also wears white long pants or drawers. It is difficut to tell which from the image. He ha relatively short hair.






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Created: 10:03 PM 1/18/2007
Last updated: 5:47 PM 6/27/2015