The Acquisitions Table: T. P. and D. C. Collins Daguerreotypes

Portrait of T. P. and D. C. Collins. Daguerreotype, Philadelphia, 1846. With T. P. Collins. Unidentified Girl Holding a Book. Daguerreotype, Philadelphia, 1846.

521966_0002This daguerreotype of brothers Thomas P. and David C. Collins lounging on a sofa was generously donated to AAS this spring by scholar Rebecca Norris. The donation was accompanied by the opportunity to purchase additional photographic material associated with the Collins brothers (all collected by Ms. Norris), such as the half-plate daguerreotype of a young girl with a book shown here. The collection includes daguerreotypes made by both brothers, portraits of their family members, and albumen photographs taken by them later in their careers. In April 2010, AAS acquired a pair of rare manuscript ledgers recording the clientele of the Philadelphia daguerreotype firm established by T. P. and D. C. Collins. The volumes list over 23,000 customers who sat for portraits in the company’s Daguerreian rooms between 1845 and 1854. These volumes were 521739_0007digitized by AAS and made available via the web, attracting the attention of Ms. Norris, who has written extensively on the brothers and their work. Her two articles in The Daguerreian Annual (in 2006 and 2013) were based on her research in archives, art collections, and private holdings, and made heavy use of the ledgers. In January 2015, Ms. Norris, who was impressed with our preservation of the ledgers and the fact that we provided open access to them, contacted AAS about placing her personal collection of Collins photographs at the Society. The plate of the brothers was her gift and, with a generous grant from the Breslauer Foundation, AAS was able to bring the collection of 31 additional daguerreotypes and 50 other photographs (ambrotypes, tintypes, albumen prints) to the Society. Gift of Rebecca Norris (daguerreotype of T. P. and D. C. Collins) and grant from the Breslauer Foundation.

Published by

Lauren Hewes

Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Graphic Arts, American Antiquarian Society

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