PRIMITIVE SOLDIER! This is a most extraordinary sixth sized portrait of a wide-eyed young man, holding a broad eagle-head sword in front of his chest with the blade pointed down at an angle. It was an enlisted man's artillery sword, made by Ames, circa 1833. (For a brief overview of the Ames company click here: http://vintagemachinery.org/mfgindex/detail.aspx?id=39
). The dag was harshly cleaned in 1977 (according to a notation on a modern seal done at that time). Remarkably the superb image still has splendid contrast and reflected depth. The soldier was seated close to the camera with a wrinkled cloth hung behind him. Illumination entered the cramped space from slightly above the soldier on the left side. The most amazing facet of this primitive jewel is the unique hallmark: SCOVILLS WATERBURY CT. Casey and I had never seen that imprint before. (See close up scan). The heavy plate has flat sides and the corners are uniformly clipped at teeny diagonals. I have placed the combatant in a side opening leather case circa 1842, which is proper for the exquisite likeness. Since the person who cleaned the surface also used an improper oval brass mat to frame him, I was patient until I finally found the correct rectangular paper mat gilded with gold to properly archivally preserve and present him. Not knowing much about military images, I shared the daguerreotype with two men who are experts. The first one provided me with information about that sword and suggested that he was wearing a militia uniform circa 1840-45. He added that the buttons might be those of an engineer or a sapper. The second fellow said he didn't think he was a sapper and that the buttons and white buff belt were the keys. (See close up scan). They were more indicative of a naval man or a marine. He leaned towards the latter because of that belt. Mike Robinson, the Canadian daguerreotypist based in Toronto, commented after I shared a high-resolution scan with him (that) "the dag certainly has all the artifacts of a very early image". As most of you already know, I have studied very early daguerreotypes for 25 years. This fantastic silver clad to copper masterpiece is the real deal. It is an astounding American depiction of a youngster serving his country and being prepared to go off to War. Thanks to all our warriors past and present who have kept us free.
Dennis A. Waters at