This small, oval-shaped blue velvet cased daguerreotype pictures a handsome Union Army officer dating to the Civil War period. It measures just 2.5” x 2” inches.
Unfortunately, like so many daguerreotype portraits from the 19th century, this gentleman is unidentified. His name remains a mystery.
Antique daguerreotypes tended to be quite delicate and were prone to tarnishing as the images were made on small, silver-plated copper sheets. Thus, the images were placed behind a piece of cover glass and tightly sealed with tape to preserve the plate and protect it from exposure to the air.
Due to the delicacy of the silver plate with the added glass, the pieces were then put into small, decorative hinged cases like this example. This allowed the case to protect the daguerreotype image from potential damage, though after a century and a half of handling, storage and wear, a great majority of original daguerreotype cases show the effects of their journeys through life.
Cased daguerreotypes which are today found in very good condition are typically more highly prized among collectors at auction.