This daguerreotype had been previously opened and cleaned, perhaps more than 50 years ago; and knocked about quite a lot. Consequently, the quality of the plate is much compromised. The mat was above the glass cover rather than between the plate and glass cover! To judge by the build-up of dirt, it was in that position for a long time.

The plate is slightly smaller than the mat. Once the binding tape was no longer attached, the plate moved around against the mat, causing significant abrasions.

I judge all elements to be original.

Grant Romer


In early 1895 Churchill graduated from Sandhurst, and soon thereafter received, from Queen Victoria, his commission as a second Lieutenant in the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars. Later that year, having a few months of free time before his anticipated assignment in India, he, together with his friend, Reggie Barnes, later General Sir Reginald Barnes, arrived in New York in early November, 1895, remaining approximately a week, house guests of William Bourke Cockran, a close friend of Churchill’s Mother. The two young British officers were on their way to Cuba, to be attached to the Spanish army, then fighting rebels. Winston and Reggie continued on their journey, arriving in Havana on November 20th. Having been born on November 30, 1874, Churchill passed his 21th birthday in Cuba, and coincidentally on this day he came under rebel fire.

1895 is late for a daguerreotype, and late for Alexander Beckers, one of the pioneers of early photography, and a master of the craft. Examples of his work are rare, and of supreme quality. Here is a photographic image of this gentleman and his family.

In 1895 Mr. Beckers was long retired as a daguerreian. However, he must have kept daguerreotype cases with his inscribed name, and used them on those special occasions when he would be persuaded to make a daguerreotype. He could not refuse William Bourke Cockran, a noted orator, and one of the leading political personalities in the the United States.

Or, put another way, Alexander Beckers, one of the great names of early photography, came out of retirement to take this daguerreotype of young Winston Churchill, the 20-year-old son of Lord Randolph Churchill.

It is unlikely that Churchill ever saw this daguerreotype.  He was in New York for only a few days, perhaps a week, and this daguerreotype was likely made toward the end of his visit.  William Bourke Cockran would have treasured this daguerreotype of his young friend.  Surely, during Cockran’s lifetime, this daguerreotype was very carefully preserved, as is fitting a precious memento.  However, upon a person’s death, relatives, staff, governmental personnel, and the like, enter the domain of the deceased, and begin to realign personal effects.  It is normal, and must occur.

How did the daguerreotype of young Abraham Lincoln end up at Witkin Art Gallery in New York?  How did the daguerreotype of Emily Dickinson end up in an Illinois flea market?  And, how did this daguerreotype of young Winston Churchill end up, 118 years later, in a rural Maine antiques fair?  We will never know the answer to these questions.


Kaplan Collection Known Images


The following video has been produced by Bob Schmitt, the founder of Biometrica, Inc, which provides biometric facial identification security to casinos. All individuals who enter a Biometrica-covered casino are unobtrusively photographed, and compared to a large database of persons who for different reasons are not welcome patrons. He is one of the pioneers and leaders of the biometric facial identification industry.



Winston Churchill from Albert Kaplan on Vimeo.



Post-Script Thoughts–October 28, 2017


Winston Churchill

From what I have seen, (four images), and from what I understand, the greatest daguerreian, (meaning the maker of the highest quality images), was Alexander Beckers, who was asked, in 1895, to make a daguerreotype of the son of Lord Randolph Churchill then spending a few days in New York. It seems remarkable that the daguerreian was Alexander Beckers.

As the viewer can see, it was a masterpiece. I cannot imagine that it could now be called a masterpiece. It has been very roughed up over the years. I am thinking how great it must have been, truly a masterpiece. Few have seen a Beckers daguerreotype. They are extraordinary.