American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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Tools of the Trade

Seamstress
Unattributed
[Seamstress]
Sixth-plate daguerreotype, ca. 1853
Prints & Photographs Division

Locksmith
Unattributed
[Locksmith]
Sixth-plate daguerreotype, ca. 1853
Prints & Photographs Division

Woman with a broom
Unattributed
[Woman with a broom]
Sixth-plate daguerreotype,
ca. [1840-1860]
Prints & Photographs Division
Purchase, 1993 (30.4)

Peddler
Unattributed
[Peddler]
Sixth-plate daguerreotypes,
ca. [1840-1860]
Prints & Photographs Division

Stonecutter
Unattributed
[Stonecutter]
Sixth-plate daguerreotype, ca. 1850
Prints & Photographs Division
LC-USZC4-3943, LC-USZ62-2040

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre invented the daguerreotype process which was later announced in France on August 19, 1839. Although a complex and slow process, American photographers quickly capitalized on this new invention because of its capability of capturing a "truthful likeness."

Typically portraiture in nature, celebrities, political figures, as well as tradesman were often invited and encouraged to have their pictures taken by daguerreotypists. Pictured here are daguerreotype portraits of workers who provide a revealing look at the nineteenth century American trades.

Workers, proud of their skills and professions, chose to present themselves honestly, spending nearly one day's wage for their photographic portrait.

Additional views:

Unattributed
[Salesman and Railroad Workers]
Sixth-plate daguerreotypes, ca. 1855
Prints & Photographs Division
Salesman: LC-USZC4-3949, LC-USZ62-2047
Railway Workers: LC-USZC4-3944, LC-USZ62-2041

Unattributed
[Watchmaker and Cooper]
Sixth-plate daguerreotypes, ca. 1850
Prints & Photographs Division
Watchmaker: LC-USZ62-2042,
LC-USZC4-3945
Cooper: LC-USZC4-4073, LC-USZ62-2050

Unattributed
[Four shoemakers holding shoes
and shoemaking equipment
]
Sixth-plate daguerreotypes, ca. 1840-1860
Prints & Photographs Division
Purchase/exchange, 1981 (30.5)
[LC-USZC4-3946]

Unattributed
[Workers with their casting tools]
Sixth-plate daguerreotypes, ca. 1855
Prints & Photographs Division
Purchase/exchange, 1981
(31.9)
Digital ID # cph 3g11324

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