Anonymous Daguerreotype

Anonymous Daguerreotype, Young Girl, Hand-colored, in Half Case
Anonymous Daguerreotype, Young Girl, Hand-colored, in Half Case

Just another random daguerreotype. I was drawn to the image by the hand-coloring which is subtle, unlike some I’ve seen where it can get over-the-top, and the flaw in the hand-coloring – notice that her face was nicely tinted, but they forgot to do her hands!

I’m no fashion expert, so I can’t give you more precise information about dating the image based on the wardrobe of the girl, but from the style of the dag itself, you can tell this one is from the 1850s – the mat itself is ornate and highly tooled, and the packet is wrapped in a gilt brass frame. Early daguerreotypes (1839-mid 1840s) have very simple geometric mats, often with a pebble texture. As the 1840s turned into the 1850s you get the thermoplastic cases and the more stylized mats, and ending with the ornate mats and packet frames. Tooled leather cases continue side-by-side with the thermoplastic cases through the Daguerrian era and on into the end of the cased tintype era, so using the case itself to date the image is not sufficient. If I can find my reference book that has a timeline of the evolution of photographic presentation styles, I’ll amend this to clarify when thermoplastic cases came into being and when they died out, but that could be a while – my library is a bit higglety-pigglety right now as I’ve run out of shelf space (2000+ volumes will do that to you).

One thought on “Anonymous Daguerreotype”

  1. The clarity is extraordinary. I cannot imagine the effect these early photos would have had on people. They must have seemed truly miraculous! They are still so gob-smackingly beautiful today. Looking forward, as always, to more.

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