This has all the signifiers of a classic Southworth & Hawes: the silvered back, the Scoville plate, the black push-button case. But more importantly: the mid-tones, the deliberately artistically slightly soft focus, and the interplay of shadows and light on the face.

For those of you unfamiliar with the canon of Southworth & Hawes, the best and most comprehensive resource is the book Young America: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes, by Grant Romer and Brian Wallis.

This daguerreotype does not appear in the book, which makes it a 'new find' and definitely exciting.

The lady gazes off to our left with the implication that she has faraway thoughts. She wears an off-shoulder dress and clasps her hands. Each wrist has a metallic bracelet.

This is an over-matted half plate, meaning that the mat is larger than the plate, creating the illusion that the daguerreotype is larger than half plate. (Half plate is 5½ x 4¼ inches.)

Housed in a classic black push-button case.


Condition:The daguerreotype was resealed in 1993. Brown spot at upper right. A light white V-shaped streak flirts with the top of her head, but it is subtle and not a distraction.

The case is in relatively very good condition. Push-button works. Excellent velvet pad.

Estimate: $2,000 - $3,000
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PLEASE NOTE: This auction is being organized and offered by The Daguerreian Society. Cowan's staff is not able to answer any condition questions and will not be providing shipping services for this auction. All questions regarding the auction should be addressed to auction@daguerreiansociety.org