“Decayed Daguerreotypes” from Public Domain Review

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Portrait of unidentified man [between 1844 and 1860], by Mathew Brady's studio. LOC http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/dag/item/2004664186/

Portrait of Mary Woodburn Greeley [between 1844 and 1860], by Mathew Brady’s studio. Wife of Zaccheus Greeley, mother of Horace Greeley.

Portrait of an unidentified man about 40 years of age and a somewhat younger woman, both in Oriental costume, between them is a hookah, the stem of which both are holding [between 1850 and 1860], by Mathew Brady’s studio.

Sometimes photo history just drops something remarkable in your lap. In this case, PHSNE’s esteemed newsletter editor Beverly Regelman came across The Public Domain Review and put a short note in the March 2022 issue of snap shots. Founded in 2011, this non-profit online website seems to have a web? network? of contributors who have unearthed all manner of intriguing documents, art work, and other media—including photographs.

As the organization’s name implies, they feature items no longer under copyright, though there are a few exceptions, pulling together an amazing range of things that astonish, entertain, puzzle, startle, and otherwise engage and delight their audience. They had me at “Decayed Daguerreotypes.” There are many more here.

I would add that even these few distressed objects have their own wilted beauty, presence, and dignity, still trying to speak to us from 160 or more years ago. After all, they were unique objects, precious likenesses when new, treasured by most people, apart from Emily Dickenson. For more on that topic—The Mysterious Daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson—read John Felix’s and Susan Anderson’s two thoroughly researched articles in The 2019 New England Journal of Photographic History, #177.

— Ryck Lent

(above) Portrait of unidentified man [between 1844 and 1860], by Mathew Brady’s studio.

Sourced from The Public Domain Review

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Coming Up

May 1 – Philip Pressel & the Hexagon KH-9 Spy Satellite Stereo Camera

June 5 – Vladimir Khazan on the Exakta


A Big Thank You

To everyone who participated in the years’ Photographica 89!

Get ready for 2023: PHSNE’s 50th year and Photographica 90

Dealers contact show manager John Dockery through the