Unidentified Boy (United States, 1840s)


Figure 1.--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. The book may indicate that he was still in school. 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.

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. The book may indicate that he was still in school. 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 are not sure just when in te decade. We have seen similar outfits in the late-40s, we are less sure about the early 40s. We welcome reader comments who know more about dating dags. He has a large white collar with a bow. It looks to us like a bow rather than a stock, but readers may know more here. Unfortunately we can't make out much detail of his shirt, but we think the collar was part of the shirt. The most interesting part of the portrait is the dark jacket worn with a loud plaid vest and check pants. Matching jackets and pants were common by the 1960s, but in the 40s and 50s we see most boys wearing jackets with pants tht did not match like the boy here. 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 not only the height, but the flat brim and crown. If the hat is Panamanian it may help date the image. 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 .







HBC






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Created: 8:48 PM 2/20/2010
Last updated: 8:48 PM 2/20/2010