Text: Michael J. Deas, “The ‘Kingsley’ Daguerreotype,” The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (1989), p. 151 (This material is protected by copyright)


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The “Kingsley” Daguerreotype

Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe [thumbnail]

(fig. 68)
The Kingsley Daguerreotype
[Illustration on page 151]

Like all of the extant versions of the “Ultima Thule” daguerreotype, the “Kingsley” daguerreotype (fig. 68) has a vague and rather uncertain history. The plate came to light in November 1909, when the noted financier and collector J. P. Morgan purchased it from Mr. Charles Kingsley of the Book-Print Shop, New York City. In a letter to Morgan’s librarian, Belle daCosta Greene, Kingsley explained that the plate had belonged to his father, Dr. Charles Kingsley, who obtained it before 1871 from a Mrs. Denison of Mystic, Connecticut. The younger Kingsley also stated that he believed Mrs. Denison to be a daughter of Caleb Fiske Harris, a friend of Sarah Helen Whitman, and theorized that the daguerreotype “probably came into the Harris family through Mrs. Whitman.”(10) Virtually nothing else is known of the daguerreotype’s history, though Kingsley added the plate was “undoubtedly” the one used by Timothy Cole to produce his famous 1880 engraving of Poe (fig. 46).

The daguerreotype has been removed from its original case and is now mounted in oval passe partout frame, making it difficult to determine the plate’s exact dimensions. The image itself is rather weak, and the plate surface shows considerable abrading, possibly the result of an attempt to clean the daguerreotype.






[S:1 - PDEAP, 1989] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (M. J. Deas) (The Kingsley Daguerreotype)