British photographic history

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Information request: Early Beard daguerreotypes

The National Portrait Gallery Photographs Collection recently acquired two ninth plate daguerreotypes of an unidentified man and woman by the pioneering photographic entrepreneur Richard Beard (1801-85). The works came to the Gallery from Sweden but with very little provenance attached. They are housed in the pinchbeck cases designed and patented by Thomas Wharton in 1841, which were used in Beard’s studios in the mid-1840s. Examples such as these are extremely rare and are emblematic of this significant period in the history of photographic portraiture. 

However, the Gallery would be delighted to find out more about them and, if possible, to identify the sitters. Can you help? Or can you advise on useful resources for further research?


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Comment by Constantia Nicolaides on July 6, 2015 at 15:20

Thank you Nicholas for your suggestion and link.

Comment by Nicholas John Burnett on June 30, 2015 at 17:28

If you search for Richard Beard on Daguerreobase ( you will currently find at least 81 daguerreotypes associated with Beard's studios, some of which have identical mounts.  We will be expanding the database over the coming months.

Comment by Bruce T Erickson on June 28, 2015 at 3:53

I have a sixth plate Wharton case with an unidentified woman, but the design on the preserver is the same. Do you have access to the Daguerreian Society's Annuals? I wrote up an account of my acquisition and subsequent research into Wharton cases in the 2008 Annual, p. 230. I also have a ninth plate Beard of a very androgynous figure, but with no identification except the imprint of "Beard's Photographic Institution" with 3 addresses imprinted on the front of the case. It has been estimated to be from re 1842 by an expert on Beard (who also published in a Dag. Soc. Annual an article on Beard). Feel free to inquire further on my email, as I am very interested in Beard.

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