Saturday, December 3, 2011

Random Genealogical Find - Post-Mortem Stereoscopic Daguerreotype

Every so often, I run family names through Google to see what appears. Often, I've found some interesting things, but last night's discovery was something entirely unexpected.

I Googled the name of my 3rd great grandfather, "Jonathan Williams Biddle" and found a stereoscopic daguerreotype of him in an online exhibit from The Library Company of Philadelphia.
I've seen daguerreotypes before, and the Archives at my place of employment has a stereoscope and set of stereoscopic images, which I've tried, but this is the first time I've seen a stereoscopic daguerreotype. From what I can tell of the little device in the photo, the stereoscope is built into the casing of the daguerreotype.

But the even more interesting thing about this image, is that the image of Biddle was taken post-mortem. The caption states that the image was taken shortly after Biddle's death in April 1856, commissioned by his uncle (not named).

The above is a cropped portion of the larger image - for copyright reasons, I'm reluctant to grab the whole thing and post it here (tempted as I am). The see the entire post-mortem image, head over to: http://www.librarycompany.org/catchingashadow/section1/index.htm. Scroll down to nearly the bottom of the page to the entry reading:

Stereoscopic Daguerreotype of post-mortem portrait of Jonathan Williams Biddle displayed in Mascher's Improved Stereoscope. Philadelphia, 1856. Courtesy of the Print & Picture Collection, Free Library of Philadelphia.


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