Where to Find Daguerreotype Photos Online

Where to Find Daguerreotype Photos Online

Are you looking for historical daguerreotype plates for your vintage photography collection? Do you want the look of heirloom family portraits to use for digital art, mixed media or unique wall decorations. There are several places to look online for ancestral portraits.

Old photographs capture history and also let us glimpse into the past. It is quaint seeing how styles have changed and people looked over 100 years ago.

These type of images date back to 1839 when the inventors Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre made a photo using silver iodide-treated copper plates. The image is transferred directly to a plate and negatives do not exist for this type of photography. You will see many of the photos framed and matted and decorative brass pieces and beading appliqué as embellishments.

Daguerreotype Family Portraits

I think it’s fascinating to see how people’s looks have changed from 100 years ago. Looking at portraits you can see vintage fashions, hair styles, the woman did not wear makeup like they do today and the men have lots of character.

Daguerreotype Photos Online

Five Clark sisters circa 1840-1860

Most daguerreotypes are still portrait images of individuals or family groups. It was never in fashion to smile while having your photo taken because a straight face is easier to hold for a minute or longer that the exposure took to produce. People did not smile in portraits until about the 1930′s and these daguerreotype photos are some of the first photographs.

The Library of Congress has a selection of over 700 images. These are in the public domain and you can reproduce or print the images if you don’t mind framing and hanging reproduction images. Another online source is Harvard’s Photographic Collection hosting more than 3,500 images.

To purchase authentic antique photo daguerreotypes you can check local antique dealers, vintage listings on Etsy or auctions on eBay for a wide selection of historic photos.


All daguerreotypes are original one of a kind images, because the photo was captured directly onto a thin piece of silver plated copper they could not be reproduced or copied like photos taken on film negatives. This was the first popular form of photography used between 1839-1855.

Photographing History


Many historically important photo exist in the daguerreotype format and these images can sell for thousands of dollars. If you are a civil war history collector, you may want to buy images of soldiers and generals. A museum quality half plate sized example of the earliest photographic process can be worth tens of thousands of dollars. The price depends mostly on the historical importance of the person in the image such as that of a president or civil war military soldier or rarity of the subject matter in the image. Also it’s quality and sharpness and how well the image is still present on the plate over time must be taken into consideration.

One Comment

  1. Thank you for the links and for sharing your expertise, love old photographs and now have some new sources to search!

    May 1, 2016

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