This 9th plate daguerreotype of a gentleman with a sword belt and sword is in a well-bound original-to-the-plate-package English style case.
Evidently, the plate-package was originally glued into the case to prevent it from falling out. Somebody removed the package, breaking the bond. In order to retain the package, an American metal preserver was put around the package. This was probably done by a dealer or collector.
It is difficult to give a precise date. I would say somewhere between 1845 and 1855.
|Kaplan Collection||Known Images|
The Prince Albert comparisons are the most challenging I have encountered. Certainly, there are a number of compelling similarities. And yet, I was not convinced this man was Prince Albert. The chin bothered me. It seemed more shallow than in his known photographic images. However, we can see that in his known photographic images he is growing a double chin which increases in size as he ages and gains weight.
The mustache in his known photographic images is full and of quite a different construction to the minor handlebar mustache of the daguerreotype. In his know photographic images Albert’s chinstrap beard is trim, not the fashion seen in the daguerreotype, a chinstrap beard with modified muttonchops.
This is fashion, nothing more. It changes with the weather.
Shortly after October 10, 1839, Queen Victoria described Albert’s facial hair. We read, from her journal, “Albert is really quite charming, and so excessively handsome, such beautiful blue eyes, an exquisite nose, and such pretty mouth with delicate mustachios and slight but very slight whiskers”….
I am reminded of two gentlemen I met in Washington 20 years ago, recommended to me by the FBI. They were engaged in developing a system to age-progress photographic images of missing children so that they could produce images of what they figured children would look like at the present time. I recall that one of these gentleman showed me a photograph of a child, and pointed out a hardly noticeable feature that he suggested would likely be evident years later. The same principle applies to facial identification analysis. I spent many hours examining the daguerreotype image, and also Prince Albert’s known images. But, of the many similarities, I did not see one that was critical.
Then, I saw it. Please see the slightly upturned hairs at the points of the purple, orange, yellow, and blue arrows. This was the catalyst that convinced me that this gentleman is Prince Albert.
In the daguerreotpe, to the extent we can see his ear, all elements are either similar or identical to his known ear: the free-hanging lobule; tragus; helix and anatihelix; and of course, the cavum conchae. From what we can see, there is no reason to think it is not the same ear.
I believe that this daguerreotype is earlier than suggested by Grant Romer; I think it is close to 1842, conceivably even earlier. Whatever its date, it is his earliest known photographic image.
His sword is ceremonial. I suggest that this daguerreotype was one of a few taken on the occasion of a fraternal investiture, and that each member photographed was similarly attired.
October 10, 2016
A British military museum gentleman told me that it looked to him as though the sword was ceremonial. That made sense to me. His wool suit may be German-made. Is it too small for him? Note the stripe on the pants leg. Were striped pants normal attire in early 1840s London?
The occasion of the photograph, certainly one of the earliest British-made daguerreotypes, is unknown. If Albert left a daily memoir, perhaps the very date of the photograph can be learned, as well as the occasion.
It has to be early, and I am thinking perhaps it is extremely early. Several months before her marriage, Victoria wrote in her diary, a description of Albert’s face. Is the face we see in the daguerreotype not the very same as Victoria’s description?
I think that this daguerreotype could have been made in the Fall of 1841.
I was delighted to come across an early daguerreotype of Prince Albert in the Kaplan Collection, and I am impressed by Mr. Kaplan’s diligent work in demonstrating that this and the later photographs of Queen Victoria’s husband are one and the same. The evidence Mr. Kaplan brings out to support this is impressive in its detail. The hours of diligent sleuthing that led to the identification of Prince Albert bring to mind that other, albeit fictional, 19th century British celebrity, Sherlock Holmes. Future researchers of this remarkable German nobleman, whose life was devoted to his adopted country, now have a reliable image of the Prince Consort in his younger years.
Jules Stewart is the author of Albert: a Life, published by I.B. Tauris Ltd. in 2011 and available on Amazon.
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