Nick Skezas, a radiologist in Chicago, has a couple thousand daguerreotypes in his collection. That’s a rough estimate – he hasn’t counted them in a while. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, he moved to the Windy City in 1987 for his radiology residency at Cook County Hospital. A member of The Daguerreian Society since 2000, he has attended almost every annual Symposium since then. He recently explained why he decided to be a sponsor this year.
What led you to join The Daguerreian Society?
In 1993 or so, I saw a daguerreotype in an antique store and it captivated me. I'd never seen one before, so I purchased it. Then around 1999, I started seeing more of them in antique stores and bought a few more. A friend said I should go on eBay, where I discovered a whole new world of daguerreotypes. So I started buying them on eBay like crazy. By purchasing from different sellers, I had the pleasure of meeting several folks online who introduced me to the Society. I was able to attend my first Symposium in Dearborn [Michigan] in 2000. After that, I became totally obsessed and my collection grew quickly. I've enjoyed going to the Symposia and meeting all the collectors, the dealers, scholars, everybody. I've made many great friends through this hobby and have enjoyed every related event.
Tell me about your collection. Are there certain themes you focus on?
I have roughly 2,000 daguerreotypes in my collection and they are predominantly portraits, especially male portraits. That has always been my main focus. But I have a little bit of everything, including ambrotypes and tintypes. Why do I collect these things? It's the aesthetics of portraiture, the beauty of the technique, the variety of beautiful cases and frames, and the associated history. I also collect contemporary daguerreotypes. I think they’re wonderful. I have perhaps 30 or 40 of them.
Why did you decide to be a sponsor of this year’s Symposium?
I wanted to sponsor to some extent because the host city of Chicago is my home. I felt obligated and maybe a tad guilty [because] I wasn't really involved in organizing the Symposium. I'm very thankful for those who did! I certainly wanted to help out in any way I could. I’m just pleased that folks are coming to my town.
What are you most looking forward to at this year's gathering?
Just to see the faces again, to see old friends and to reconnect, post-COVID. I always look forward to the lectures…and [this year] the boat tour. I've taken the tour before, and I’m sure everyone will enjoy it. As we cruise the Chicago River, guides will discuss the notable buildings, their architects and their history. Can’t wait to see everyone!