Earliest known presidential photograph offered at Sotheby’s

One of the earliest known photographic portraits of a US president is expected to make up to $250,000 at Sotheby’s.

It’s a daguerreotype showing John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), sixth president of the United States (1825-1829), seated at a table in his study.

John Adams photo

John Quincy Adams sat twice for this portrait in March 1843 

Adams sat for the portrait on two separate occasions on March 8 and 14.

He noted the event in his diary: “The operation is performed in half a minute; but is yet altogether incomprehensible to me.

“It would seem as easy to stamp a fixed portrait from the reflection of a mirror; but how wonderful would that reflection itself be, if we were not familiarized to it from childhood.”

Like many of us, Adams wasn’t a fan of how he appeared on film – calling another image from August 1843 “hideous”.

He later gave this signed photograph to Horace Everett (1779–1851), a friend who served as congressman to Vermont from 1829-1843 and was in the room during the second sitting for the shot.

Adams’ autograph is valuable by itself, with signed letters often selling for sums north of $80,000.

The fact that this lot is one of the first presidential portraits could propel it way beyond its $250,000 estimate.

We have a great selection of US presidential memorabilia for sale, click here to take a look.

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