2022 Benefit Auction

The Daguerreian Society 2022 Symposium Benefit Auction

The Daguerreian Society's annual benefit auction will be held on Saturday, October 29, 2022, at 8:30 pm Central Time.

The in-person auction will be held at the

Palmer House Hilton
17 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60603

Bidding will be in person for Symposium attendees and on-line through LiveAuctioneers or Cowan's Auctions. Absentee bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers, Cowan's Auctions, and email. No phone bidding will be available.

As in previous years, Cowan's Auctions is waiving their fees, so the buyer's premium on Cowan's is the same as for in-person bidders -- 20%. The buyer's premium on LiveAuctioneers is 25%, to cover our additional costs when using that platform.

Full auction terms may be found here.

Select Auction Highlights

Where some years ago all the lots for the Society's auction were staged on its web site, we are not doing that this year. You will go to LiveAuctioneers or Cowan's Auctions to view the lots as well as to bid. As a teaser, however, we show a few favorite items here:


Quarter plate size. Full worn case. Modern seals. Brown spots.

In a perfect world, these men are equals. The dashing young man brings excitement and the older resolute man brings wisdom. They are posed at equal height. There is a familiarity between the two.

But what if this depicts a servant-master relationship, or an enslaved person-master relationship? We can debate all day about whether there is such a thing as a benevolent master, but anytime there is ownership of another person, the whole discussion is skewed and good will gets tossed out the window.

Yet look again. Is it possible they take care of each other? Is it possible they could be friends? Is it possible they are both committed to abolitionism? So many questions, and the complicated issue of race makes this all the more compelling.

This daguerreotype we are offering is an incredible document of American history. Perhaps some day we’ll know the specific story, but as of now, we’re left guessing.


ESTIMATE: $20,000 - $35,000


This has all the signifiers of a classic Southworth & Hawes: the silvered back, the Scoville plate, the black push-button case. But more importantly: the mid-tones, the deliberately artistically slightly soft focus, and the interplay of shadows and light on the face.

For those of you unfamiliar with the canon of Southworth & Hawes, the best and most comprehensive resource is the book Young America The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes, by Grant Romer and Brian Wallis.

This daguerreotype does not appear in the book, which makes it a 'new find' and definitely exciting.

The lady gazes off to our left with the implication that she has faraway thoughts. She wears an off-shoulder dress and clasps her hands. Each wrist has a metallic bracelet.

This is an over-matted half plate, meaning that the mat is larger than the plate, creating the illusion that the daguerreotype is larger than half plate. (Half plate is 5½ x 4¼ inches.)

Housed in a classic black push-button case. Relatively very good condition. Push-button works. Excellent velvet pad.

Resealed in 1993. Brown spot at upper right. A light white V-shaped streak flirts with the top of her head, but it is subtle and not a distraction.


ESTIMATE: $2000 - $3000


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