SUPER CLEAR MEXICAN WAR ERA DAGUERROTYPE OF A DAPPER 1st INFANTRY LIEUTENANT

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Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 1138-2010

This wonderful sixth plate daguerreotype shows a youthful infantry first lieutenant in a half-length pose, likely seated though no chair is visible, casually leaning an elbow on a table with cover. He has pushed his 1839 pattern officer’s forage cap somewhat jauntily up to one side, undoubtedly so as not to shade his face, but giving him a slightly rakish air.

His frock has a high collar, fully fastened at the throat, though showing a hint of a neck stock or tie behind it. His nine coat buttons were lightly tinted, obscuring detail, but are large officer’s style. His sleeves are cut narrow, appropriately for the period, as are his shoulder straps. The straps have a plain dark field, indicating he is a second lieutenant, though the short edges closest to the camera are fairly thick and may include a first lieutenant’s rank bar set right on the border.

His regimental affiliation is in no doubt. The hunting horn insignia on the front of his cap plainly shows a “1” in the loop and he is most likely a member of the 1st U.S. Infantry, which served both with Zachary Taylor and with Winfield Scott in Mexico and then was posted to duty in Texas and the southwest. It also possible he is a member of a state organization. (We note that Col. Hamtramck of the 1st Virginia Volunteers in the Mexican War was photographed wearing and 1839 cap with the same style horn and “1.”) It looks like the photographer has thinly gilded the officer’s coat and hat buttons and his infantry horn, but not the number. If intentional, it could indicate a date of 1851 or so, when the U.S. infantry shifted from silver to gold as a branch of service metal but left the regimental numeral in silver.

The photograph is housed in a leatherette case embossed with floral motifs. It has an early style flat mat and no frame. It has been resealed and perhaps cleaned at some point. There is just a very narrow bit of solarization at the upper, lower, and right edges. The clarity is excellent. [sr] [ph:m]

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