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    Description

    President John Quincy Adams: A Highly Important From-life Quarter Plate Daguerreotype Image, Taken at the Washington, D.C. Studio of John Plumbe in 1846. This significant image is believed to have been taken on February 14, 1846, as documented in Adams' diary entry. He writes that he posed for two portraits that day, "a full face and a profile, both quite successful." Plumbe was one of the most prominent photographers of the day, and was apparently esteemed so by Adams, as he sat for Plumbe on four different occasions- in 1842 in Boston, and in 1846 in the Washington studio. The whereabouts of the profile portrait were unknown until the discovery of this image in a Paris antiques market. The location is unsurprising as Adams, a former diplomat, had many connections in Europe, and could well have presented this image to one of them.

    The image is accompanied by a detailed letter of authentication by William F. Stapp, who served as Curator of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, from 1976 through 1991. Mr. Stapp's complete report and professional credentials may be viewed in our website presentation of this lot. The daguerreotype is housed in a typical Plumbe case, with the photographer's name stamped on the brass mat and lined with paper reading "Manufactured at the Plumbe National Daguerrian Depot/ New York" (presumably these cases were provided for use at Plumbe's studios in other cities as well).

    Also accompanying this lot is the detailed condition report of nationally-respected photograph conservator Lyzanne Gann. The entire report, including the description of conservation work performed by Gann Preservation Studios, L.L.C., may be viewed on our website presentation of this lot.

    Early from-life hard images of U.S. presidents are extremely rare and sought-after, and Adams was the earliest president to have been photographed. We note the recent sale of a half-plate daguerreotype of J. Q. Adams by a New York auction house for a record price of $360,500. That photo, taken by Phillip Haas in 1843, was represented as the earliest known photographic portrait of a U.S. president. The daguerreotype offered here, while perhaps not the earliest, is certainly among the earliest, and the discovery of this fine, well documented and hitherto unknown profile image is unquestionably a momentous development in the history of American presidential images.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2017
    2nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,724

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