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John Foster

Accidental Mysteries


In the mid-19th century, during the early days of photography, it was a common practice to have your portrait made with the tools of your trade, hobby or passionate interest. Today, these images tell a wonderful story of trades and occupations during the growth of our nation. Most of these images (as noted) are from the Matthew R. Isenburg Collection of early photography, which was just sold to the Archive of Modern Conflict (AMC) for a record $15 million. The museum is in Toronto, Canada. This exhibition was assembled by my friend Alan Griffiths, of Luminous Lint, a website dedicated to the history of photography.

Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Straw-hatted miner with pick, pan and shovel
1852 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
California mule skinner with his whip
1851 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg


Occupational Photographs
W. & W. H. Lewis (142 Chatham St., New York)
Merchant Marine sailor
1849 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg 


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Portrait of a young man (cook)
1854 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/4 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Portrait of a blacksmith
1852 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg


Occupational Photographs
Tyler & Co., Boston, MA
Portrait of a butcher
1854 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/9 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Portrait of a shoe factory model-maker
1850 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg 


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Portrait of a fisherman
1850 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Portrait of a group of plasters
1850 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Portrait of a gentleman wearing a work apron
1850 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg


Occupational Photographs
H.G. Fetter (Peru, Indiana)
Surveying crew
1853-1854 (winter of)
Daguerreotype, 1/4 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg

Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
The Carpenter, Canada
1850
Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate
Charles Isaacs Photographs, Inc


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Portrait of a scientist
1850 (ca)
Daguerreotype, 1/6 plate
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Young man with accordian
n.d.
Courtesy of Larry Gottheim - Be-Hold


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Carriage driver holding his buggy whip
n.d.
Courtesy of Jeffrey Kraus


Occupational Photographs
Unidentified photographer
Portrait of a Daguerreotypist
1850 (ca)
Collection Matthew R. Isenburg


Accidental Mysteries is an online curiosity shop of extraordinary things, mined from the depths of the online world and brought to you each week by John Foster, a writer, designer and longtime collector of self-taught art and vernacular photography. “I enjoy the search for incredible, obscure objects that challenge, delight and amuse my eye. More so, I enjoy sharing these discoveries with the diverse and informed readers of Design Observer.”

Editor's Note: All images are copyright of their original owners.


Posted in: Accidental Mysteries, Culture, Photography

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