Portrait of a man believed to be the son of John and Mary Francis Peters.
James's Discussion Posts
James Gates Daguerreotype Analysis by James A. Gates In my father’s things there is a cased image of a man seated in a chair. He is not identified and unfortunately there is no one alive to determine who this gentleman is. This analysis is an attempt to identify the person in the image. Invented in 1839, Daguerreotypes got to America shortly thereafter in 1840. Daguerreotypes required technical skill and artistic talent to capture a good image. They required long exposure times and it was not possible to make copies. Each image was as unique as a portrait. A Daguerreotype consists of an image, mat, cover-glass and case. By the mid-1850’s, Daguerreotypes had been replaced by the easier to use ambrotypes in 1854, and tintypes in 1856. This image is a Daguerreotype and would have been made after 1840 but before 1860. Construction of the case gives further clues as to when the image was made. The case is wood frame, covered with embossed leather, and it has a hook and eye clasp. In 1852, Samuel Peck patented a new, more durable case called a “union case” which could be manufactured. These were molded and often had a spring-friction clasp. The wood frame and leather cases, often built by the photographer, were mostly replaced by the union cases by 1855. The surface design of the embossed leather covering is another clue. This case has a floral design which came into fashion in the mid 1840’s. The mat design is oval. The octagon shape was most popular in the 1840’s. It was not until the 1850’s that the more, elaborate elliptical and oval shapes were popular. This narrows the time period down to between 1850 and 1855. This time period is confirmed by the fashion displayed by the gentleman. From 1840 to 1850 the following fashions were in vogue. Shirts were white with small collar turned up under the tie. The necktie was tied in a horizontal bowknot. The hair was ear length, parted high on one side and men were generally clean shaven with some fringe beards. The gentleman in this image displays all these fashions. Since Daguerreotypes were unique and relative expensive they were rarely in the possession of persons outside the immediate family; therefore, I assume that this must be one of my father’s ancestors. Based on the time period the image would have been taken there are only four possibilities: Daniel H. Goodno born 1805, James C. Bane born 1814, Daniel H. Gates born 1826, and Andrew Digins born 1833. The gentleman in the image appears to be between 25 and 35 years old. Daniel H. Goodno would have been between 45 and 50 years old in the time period that the image was taken, so it is unlikely he is the gentleman. I have a picture of James C. Bane and this image is not of him. Daniel H. Gates would have been between 24 and 29 years old. Andrew Digins would have been between 17 and 22 years old. Andrew Digins was a farmer and would not likely have the means to have a Daguerreotype taken when he was 17-22 years old. Daniel H. Gates was a blacksmith and prominent citizen of Gallipolis, Ohio, and a large land holder. He certainly would have the resources to have a picture taken. So, I conclude that Daniel H. Gates in the gentleman in the image. How sure can I be that this is correctly identifying the gentleman in the image? The fact that the image was in my father’s things, gives me a 50-50 chance that it is one of his ancestors (either he is or he is not). That Daniel H. Gates is in the correct age bracket gives me another 50-50 chance of being correct. And, that he is the most likely one that would have had the resources to have a Daguerreotype taken gives another 50-50 chance of being correct. With three items, each with a 50-50 % chance of being correct, the joint probability of this correctly identifying the gentleman is 87.5%. Reference: Taylor, Maureen; Uncovering Your Ancestry Through Family Photographs, Betterway Books, Cincinnati, OH, 2000
Dec 01, 2002 · posted to the surname Gates