Gentleman With His Prized Sheep Half Plate Daguerreotype Scarce Union Case 1850s For Sale
Gentleman With His Prized Sheep Half Plate Daguerreotype Scarce Union Case 1850s
Geometric/Scroll design Union case Peck & Halvorson Union casecheckered horizontal necktie checkered trousers with wide tubular legs gentleman with his prized sheep cord with tassles draped in lap & on sheep gentleman with his prized sheep light discoloration area light discoloration area & small nick brass hinge small distress area
A rare and impressive half plate Daguerreotype of a finely dressed gentleman and his prized sheep. Image measures 4 1/4" x 5 1/2". Case measures 6 1/4" x 5 3/16" ..... see our photos. This sizedetermines the designation ofhalf-plate Daguerreotype.
Note the gentleman's cheeks that have been delicately "pinked" (coloring applied). See our photos. He wears a checkered horizontally tied necktie and checkered trousers. He also wears a double breasted vest, falling well over the waistline of the trousers. Draped across his lap he holds a silk cord with tassles on each end. One tassle hangs over an ear of the sheep.
When I bought this at a Seattle estate sale I asked the lady whohad sold itwhat she knew about it. She (apparently a family member) told me that the family name was Atherton and that they were a farming family from southern Oregon. The gentleman in the photo was bethrothed to a family member. He went on a trip, never returned, and was never heard from again.
The photo condition is original, untouched and exactly the way I found it at a recent estate sale. Light small spots all over the image. See our photos, taken in both bright sunlight and indirect light. I have not attempted to remove the image from the case.
Regarding the provenance of the Union case:
For reference and an illustrated example of the Union Casein our salesee the book: Union Cases - A Collector's Guide to the Art of America's First Plastics by Clifford Krainik and Michael Krainik with Carl Walvoord. A full page illustrated example of this case isshown on page 37 of the book.
The authors of the Union Cases bookidentify this particular case designas Geometric/Scroll. They identify the casemaker as: Peck and Halvorson. They also define it as a half plate, 6 1/4" x 5 3/16". They classify the rarity as Scarce. They define Scarce as: "May be available to an active dealer or collector only a few times in the course of a year".
Under the Classifications of Rarity paragraph the authors note: "Of the 773 recorded case designs only 3 are whole plate, 13 half plate, and 74 quarter plate designs have been located".
They go onto say: "By contrast, there are about 550 different sixth and ninth plate designs. From a collector's viewpoint, it is obvious that the larger cases and the cases with theme designs are far fewer in supply, and consequetly in greater demand. Because there are no production records for Union cases, or even a trade catalogue showing the various designs produced, collectors can only surmise the relative scarcity of a given case. This would be based on the number of times it appears in collections or is offered for sale".
The Book “Collector’s Guide to Early Photographs” by O. Henry Mace details the invention and production of the first daguerreotype cases. Patents were issued to Samuel Peck and H. Halvorson in the early 1850s. Credit is usually given to Samuel Peck as having been the first to produce and market a perfected thermoplastic case, which he called the "union case". The word union was used by Peck as a synonym for the word composition in his patent, and thereafter became his trade name for this case. Since the name was never registered, it was used freely by other manufacturers.
The author classifies this case as a premium category case and states "Very few cases in the premium category ever become available. Nearly all are Union cases, and most are 1/2 or full-plate size".
Rare Daguerreotype: The author notes that rare daguerreotypes comprise less than 5 percent of all existing images. Included in this rare category are animal portraits.
Brass mat: Known as the Nonpareil mat, this design was one of the most popular shapes beginning in the the mid-1850s and embossed with ornate designs from the late 1850s on.
The Union case condition: Two small areas on corners of one side of the Union case show slightly lighter coloration, perhaps due to an aging condition. See our close-up photos. A very small nick out of one corner in the same area. The velvet area of the interior of the case is a dark burgundy wine color. One of the two hinges has a tight hairline on each side of the hinge ..... see our photos. Still functions perfectly as a hinge.
Also see the book "Dressed for the Photographer Ordinary Americans & Fashion 1840-1900" by Joan Severa. In the chapter The 1850s the author states "In photography, the daguerreotype still predominated the very early yearsof the decade. The heyday of the daguerreotype was, in fact, from 1850-1855".
In the same 1850s chapter, under Fashions for Men - Neckwear the text reads: The necktie fashion seen in the early-fifties photographs is a day-time style: a two-inch-wide silk tie of rather stiff appearance horizontally tied in a flat half-bow with the ends extending boldly to one side. Many appear to be black, but some are checkered. This kind of tie was possibly achieved by folding a square silk square in from two corners diagonally to form a thick scarf. After about 1857 this style became narrower and more horizontal in shape.
Again, fromthe same 1850s chapter, under Fashions for Men: Vests tended to be double-breasted. Most vest fronts fell well over the waistbands of the trousers. Trousers were made with rather wide tubular legs and no creases. Hairstyles: Most men were clean shaven in the early fifties, but by the end of the decade many had full beards. Mid-decade, a fringe around the cheeks and jawline seems to have been popular with well-dressed young men.
Possibly the work of photographerPeter Britt (1829-1905), one of the earliest Daguerreotypists to open a studio in the American Northwest (Jacksonville, Oregon, 1852). He was a trained artist who emigrated from Switzerland in 1852. In later years he helped to document westward expansion. His work is considered rare.
See the book "Collector's Guide to Early Photographs" by O. Henry Mace for Peter Britt reference. A circa 1859 self-portrait daguerreotype of photographer Peter Britt isshown on page 180 of the book "Dressed for the Photographer" by Joan Severa.
We attribute this as circa the mid-1850s to late 1850s.
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Gentleman With His Prized Sheep Half Plate Daguerreotype Scarce Union Case 1850s: $5,411