Tag Archives: Washington D. C.

Samuel A. Cohner

1857                380 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D. C.

Samuel A. Cohner was recorded in The Photographic and Fine Art Journal (New York, New York) on December 1857.  Washington Galleries.  Washington November 5, 1857.    Mr. James McCleese of Philadelphia, has opened his new gallery below the Kirkwood House.  His operator is Samuel A. Cohner, Esq., a practical chemist of some notoriety; he is very successful in all of his operations.  I was shown many of his beautiful plain photographs, that in tone and sharpness were exquisite.  But ‘tis just like Mr. McC., he never has any body about who does not fully understand his business.  His gallery is one of the finest in Washington, and the many water colored pictures that are adorning his walls, speak highly for the business.  His artists is a man of the first order and paints with unusual rapidity.  Mr. Vannerson is the agent of Mr. McClesse’s gallery, and for the length of time he has resided in Washington, no man is more capable of doing the agreeable in securing the public patronage.  This gallery will do a large share of the business the coming winter.  I fully predict a brilliant career for them, and well they deserve it.  By the time your next number appears, I hope to be able to speak more of this gallery.

Samuel A. Cohner is recorded in Craig’s Daguerreian Registry.

Professor J. Edwin Churchill

1856                434 Pennsylvania Avenue, Between 4½ and 6th Streets, Washington, D. C. 1857                Address and Location Unknown

Professor J. Edwin Churchill was recorded in two announcements, the first on September 6, 1856 in the Evening Star (Washington, D. C.).  ….Prof. J. E. Churchill, the distinguished American artist, is in this city.  Some of his exquisite specimens of photographs in oil, among which is a fine likeness of Mrs. Julia Dean Hayne, may be seen at Whitehurst’s gallery.

The second on August 26, 1857 in the same paper.  Prof. J. E. Churchill has just finished a fine photographic portrait in oil, of President Buchanan.

According to The New York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artist in America 1564-1860 J. Edwin Churchill is recorded as a portrait painted in Philadelphia in 1860.


1846-1847       Pennsylvania Avenue, next door to the U. S. Hotel, District of Columbia.

There are two listings for Chase with no first name attached to the advertisements or announcements in Washington, D. C.  The first instances cover 1846 to 1847, in which three announcements and two advertisements appear (which will be referred as Chase.1.)  The second occurrences was in 1851, in which two advertisements and three announcements appear (referred to as Chase.2.)  It is possible that this same person, but at this time it would be only speculation to suggest that.

Chase.1 was recorded in an advertisement in The Daily Union (Washington, D. C.) on December 19 and ran until February 8, 1846.  Van Loan & Chase, From New York And Philadelphia.  Daguerreotype Rooms.  Admittance free.  Next door to the United States Hotel.  Pictures taken in any kind of weather, clear, cloudy, or rainy, from 9 o’clock, a. m., till 5 o’clock, p. m.

The first announcement appeared on December 31, 1846 in The Daily Union.  We would call the attention of citizens and strangers to the daguerreotype establishment of Messrs. Van Loan & Chase, next door to the United States Hotel.

The second advertisement appeared on April 30 and ran until June 1, 1847 in The National Whig.  (Washington, D. C.)            Van Loan & Chase, From New York And Philadelphia.  Daguerreotype Rooms.  Admittance Fee—next door to the U. S. Hotel.  Pictures taken in any kind of weather, clear, cloudy, or rainy, from 9 o’clock, a. m. till 5 o’clock p. m..

The second announcement appears on June 9, 1847 in The National Whig (Washington, D. C.)  Washington As It Is.  June, 1847, Pennsylvania Avenue.  No. II.

Crossing Third street, westwardly…Next Door westward of the United States Hotel is a spacious and lofty building belonging to John Donoho, at present partly occupied by Van Loan & Chase’s admirable Daguerrean rooms.

The third announcement appeared on September 28, 1847 in The Daily Union (Washington, D.C.)  We are indebted to Messrs. Brooke, Shillington, & Co., of this city, for a “View of the Battle of Buena Vista,” published by H. R. Robinson….We are also presented with a fine lithographic portrait of Col. Charles May, from a daguerreotype of Van Loan & Co., of this city.  This is also published by Mr. Robinson of New York….

Chase does not appear in other photographic directories as being active in Washington, D. C. nor does Van Loan.  In the first advertisement that announces the partnership of Van Loan & Chase it states that they are from New York and Philadelphia.  Looking at the various photographic directories and histories this would suggest that Van Loan is from New York and Chase from Philadelphia this would mean that the partnership is Matthew D. Van Loan & Theodore L Chase.


1851                Rooms at the Odeon, Washington, D. C.

Chase.2 appeared in the Washington, D. C. newspapers in an advertisement that ran from April 8 to 14, 1851 in the American Telegraph.  Daguerreotypes Equal to any in the city are taken at the Odeon at the lowest prices.  Entire Satisfaction given, or no charge.

The first of three announcements appeared on April 15, 1851 in the American Telegraph.  Can’t Be Beat!  The great number of Daguerreotypes taken at Chase’s Gallery at the Odeon, to be sent to England and other parts of Europe, is an evidence of the excellency of the work done at this Gallery.

The second announcement appeared on April 22, 1851 in the American Telegraph.  Everybody Says—and what everybody says must be true—that the Daguerreotypes now produced at the Odeon are unsurpassed by any in the city and then the prices are lower than any other Gallery.

The third announcement appeared on April 27, 1851 also in the American Telegraph.  At The Odeon May be seen an admirable and lifelike Likeness of the President, where, also, you can be accommodated with a beautiful Daguerreotype, at a very low price.

The second advertisement appeared on May 30 and ran until June 6, 1851 again in the American Telegraph.  Can’t Be Beat.—The Daguerreotypes taken at the Odeon, in execution and truthfulness, are inferior to none in the city; while the price is much lower than at most other Galleries.

There is the possibility that Chase.1 and Chase.2 are the same person based on the activity being in Washington, D. C.  The problem is that there is no collaborating information two tie the two together and John Craig does not list him in Craig’s Daguerreian Registry nor is he listed in Laurie Baty’s unpublished Directory of D. C. Photographers.


Dr. A. Caspari

1843-1844       Address Unknown, Richmond, Virginia.

Dr. A. Caspari was recorded twice in advertisements that appeared the in The New York Herald (New York, New York) on June 1, and ran until September 5, 1843 and on October 17, 1843 to January 26, 1844.  It is unknown if Dr. Caspari is a daguerreotypist, a supplier or just an agent for the Langenheim Brothers.  Philip Haas, Edward White, and Peter Laurens[1] are daguerreotypist, Dr. Caspari and William West are not recorded in other photographic directories that I have access to.

Philadelphia Daguerreotype Establishment.  Exchange Building, Rooms 26 & 27.  The Subscribers, having procured the agency for the sale of Voigtander’s Daguerreotype Apparatus, constructed according to Professor Petzval’s calculation, have on hand a large assortment of these Apparatus, and artists as well as amateurs of their art, wishing to procure a good apparatus, will find it to their advantage to procure instruments of this construction.  They also have lately imported a large quantity of German and French plates, and all the chemicals used in their art, which they warrant in every respect, as they are made to their order.  Polishing substances, and morocco cases, and all necessary materials, are sold on the most reasonable terms.  The following gentlemen have agreed to act as their agents, viz:—                                                                                                                                      E. White, 175 Broadway, N. Y.                                                                                                                              P. Haas, Esq., Washington, D. C.                                                                                                                      Dr. A. Caspari, Richmond, Va.                                                                                                                              P. Laurens, Esq., Savannah, Ga.                                                                                                                  William West, Esq., Cincinnati, Ohio. Added to advertisement on June 22, 1843.

All communications (post paid) and orders, accompanied with remittance, will be promptly attended to, and should be directed to W. & F. Langenheim, Exchange Building, Phila.

The second advertisement ran on  October 17, 1843.  Peter Laurens has been replaced by Samuel Broadbent for the Southern States.  Philadelphia Daguerreotype Establishment.  Exchange Building, Rooms 26 & 27.  The Subscribers, has received a large supply of Voigtander’s celebrated Daguerreotype Apparatus, large and small sizes, with achromatic lenses made according to Professor Petzval’s calculation.

Also a new supply of the best plates and chemicals, which he warrants good and sells at reduced prices.  The following gentlemen have agreed to act as their agents, viz:—                E. White, 175 Broadway, N. Y. P. Haas, Esq., Washington, D. C. Dr. A. Caspari, Richmond, Va.  S. Broadbent, Esq., for the Southern States.  William West, Esq., Cincinnati, Ohio.

All communications (post paid) and orders, accompanied with remittance, will be promptly attended to, and should be directed to William Langenheim, Exchange Building, Phila.

[1] Active in Savannah, Georgia from 1843 until at least 1863.  Early Georgia Photographers, 1841 – 1861: a Biographical Checklist, Compiled by E. Lee Eltzroth.


Bryant & Smith

1859                Address Unknown, Washington, District of Columbia.

Bryant and Smith was recorded in the Evening Star (Washington, D. C.) on June 14, 1859.  From The photographers & publishers, Messrs. Bryant & Smith, we have six photographic (stereoscopic) views of scenes in and about Washington, which, for excellence of execution, are quite equal to the best French stereoscopic views.  They consist of representations of the Patent Office, Washington Monument, Jackson Statute, White House, Capitol extension, (east front,) and the tomb of Washington.  They are for sale by Franklin Philp.

Bryant & Smith are not recorded in in other photographic directories that I have access to.  They were not listed in the 1860 Washington, D. C. Directory.  Three stereoviews by them can be found at the New York Public Library digital collection they are  Jackson Monument, National Observatory and two views of Tomb of Washington.  They are tan mounts with domed images.

Nahum S. Bennett

There are a series of announcements and advertisements in the Washington, D. C. Newspapers that place Nahum S. Bennett in D. C. from 1850 to late 1852.  He was first recorded in The Daily Union (Washington, D. C.) in an announcement on August 21, 1850.

We are indebted to Mr. N. S. Bennett, of this city, for a daguerreotype likeness of Mr. Millard Fillmore, the present President of the United States, and lithographed by Mr. A. Newman.  It is an admirable likeness, and beautifully executed.  The President’s face is calculated to grace the art of the daguerreotypist or the painter; but those features are too apt to undergo a premature revolution from the wrinkles of care, which power, if faithfully administered, stamps with its seal upon the brow.…

In an announcement that was published in the Daily American Telegraph (Washington, D. C.) on July 13, 1852.  A Beautiful Daguerreotype.  The most perfect and admirable daguerreotype likeness we have ever seen has just been made of General Winfield Scott, by Mr. Bennett, of this city.  It is of very large size, and as clear and distinct as the reflection from a polished mirror.

We learn that the old General sat for this likeness with cheerfulness and patience, though under protest, declaring that so frequently has he of late been called upon to sit to artists of various kinds that he must henceforth refuse.  If others have succeeded as well as Mr. Bennett, we do not, indeed, think further efforts are needed.

Also on the 13th the following advertisement appears Rocky Mountain Indians!  Daguerreotype likenesses of the principal Chiefs of the Different Rocky Mountain tribes of Indians on exhibition at Bennett’s National Gallery, Penna. av., between 6th and 7th sts.

The last Daguerreotype, from life, of the departed patriot, Henry Clay, may be seen at Bennett’s National Gallery, Pa. av., between 6th and 7th sts.

In an article entitled The Pueblo Indians in the Daily American Telegraph (Washington, D. C.) on August 13, 1852 in part….Bennett, the skilful and popular daguerreotypist, took their portraits yesterday.  They were highly gratified, and, when told that each of them should have a copy of his own likeness, their pleasure knew no bounds.  The old man of the party (aged sixty-four) looked at his image for a while, and then said:  “When I am dead, and gone to heaven, I shall still live in this.”…

In an advertisement in the Daily American Telegraph.  (Washington, D. C.) on September 20, 1852 we learn that a portrait of General Scott is being painted by Stanley[1] which is possibly the best portrait of the General ever painted.  It is from a most beautiful daguerreotype by Bennett, of this city.

The last advertisement in the Daily American Telegraph (Washington, D. C.) appeared on October 26 and ran until November 18, 1852.  Crayon Daguerreotypes.  This style of Photographic Pictures was patented by John A. Whipple, of Boston, about six years since[2], and introduced into this city by Bennett in 1850, as many who have had them know.  Mr. B. continues to take them, in a superior manner, at his Gallery, Pennsylvania avenue, between 6 and 7th streets.

Published in an article about early Daguerreotypist in Washington, D. C. a letter from Samuel Rush Seibert dated October 19, 1896 is included.  It is in reply to Samuel C. Busey’s inquiry about early Daguerreotypist in Washington.  He states in part “Mr. N. S. Bennett had a Daguerreotype gallery a few doors west, on the same avenue, in a building which was on the east side and adjoining L. D. Gilman’s drug store. During the winter of 1851 and 1852 I negotiated with him for the purchase of the gallery for Marcus A. Root and John H. Clark, who immediately obtained possession and refitted the skylight and rooms, and there produced many fine specimens of the Daguerrean art.[3]

Based on the last advertisement of Bennett’s (October 26, 1852) and the first ad for Root in the Washington papers (December 19, 1852) the sale of the gallery had to be in October-November 1852.  Interesting John H. Clark[e] does not appear in any advertisements found in the D. C. newspapers.  According to Laurie Baty’s unpublished Directory of Washington, D. C. Photographers Clark was a pupil of Root’s and was the operator of his D. C. gallery.

Bennett was on board the steamer Empire which left Troy, NY around 7 P. M. on Friday July 15, 1853 heading to New York City, when it was in a collision with the sloop General Livingston about 2 A. M on the 16th on the west shore of the Hudson River, opposite Clinton Point, about two and a half miles above New-Hamburg, and six below Poughkeepsie.   A number of people were killed or injured in the accident.  The extent of Bennett injuries are unknown it is reported in the Daguerreian Journal that he did lose a valuable collection of daguerreotypes including a whole plate of the last portrait taken of Henry Clay, sixteen specimens of members of the U. S. Senate, Likenesses of the Rocky Mountain Indian Tribes, and a portrait of Billy Bow Legs and John Howard Payne[4], who was an American actor, poet, playwright, and author.

No other advertisements, notices or articles have been found in any of the Washington newspapers that I have access to, until the three advertisements in the Evening Star discussed previously about Smith Bennett who was award a silver medal at the 1855 Metropolitan Mechanic’s Institute while he was in Alexandria, Virginia.

Reported in the Evening Star (Washington, D. C.) on February 10, 1857.  That N. S. Bennett has sent an application to the Mechanics’ Fair to exhibit ambrotypes and daguerreotypes.  Then on March 31 (in the same paper) a list was published of the premiums awarded at The Fair…Class 30….

Brady, N. Y.—photographs—Silver Medal.                                                                                 Whitehurst, Washington—ambrotypes—Silver Medal.                                                               Whitehurst, Washington—daguerreotypes—First award of merit.                                         Langenheim, Philadelphia—stereoscopes—Silver Medal.                                                      Vannerson, Washington—photographs, ambrotypes and daguerreotypes—Bronze Medal.   Whitehurst, Washington—photographs—Diploma.                                                                       Cutting & Turner, Boston—ambrotypes—Diploma                                                                                  N. S. Bennett, Alexandria—daguerreotypes—Diploma.

Bennett is reported to have been active in 1860 in Alexandria at 69 King Street.  At this time I have been unable to find directories for Alexandria to verify activity dates and address for Bennett from 1855-1860+.

[1] Probably John Mix Stanley.

[2] Crayon Daguerreotypes were patented by Whipple on January 23, 1849, Patent No. 6,056.

[3] In an article published in the Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D. C.  Vol. 3, P. 81-95.  Entitled Early History of Daguerreotypy in the City of Washington, by Samuel C. Busey.

[4] Article in the New York Times, July 18, 1853, P. 1.

Nathan S. Bennett

Nathan S. Bennett was first recorded in the 1844 Boston City Directory as a photographer at 109 Washington Street, Boston[1], with no residence information provided.  He was not listed in subsequent directories.  He next appears in an advertisement in the Wilmington Journal newspaper (Wilmington, North Carolina.)  The advertisement ran from December 24, 1847 to January 28, 1848.

“Transferred by wondrous magic art, Behold how perfect every part.”  N. S. Bennett, From Boston, would most respectfully inform the inhabitants of Wilmington and vicinity, that he has fitted up rooms in the rear of Dr. Ware’s Office, Front Street, for the purpose of taking Daguerreotype Miniatures, and would invite all who wish really bold and perfect miniatures of themselves or friends, to give him a call.  By a new and expeditious process, peculiar to himself, he is enabled to take the likeness of infants, of almost any age; and parents may now procure pictures of their little ones which will be protraction’s of life itself.  Hours for operating, from 10 a. m., till 4 p. m.

Nathan S. Bennett is recorded in several photographic directories for his time spent in Boston in 1844.  The possible connection to the Hale brothers (Charles E. and or Luther Holman) has not previously been explored.  There is also another possible connection to Smith Bennett and Nahum S. Bennett in Washington, D. C. and Alexandria, Virginia.

[1] He may have worked for Charles E. Hale and or possibly Luther Holman Hale in 1844-1845 at 109 Washington Street.

Smith Bennett

Smith Bennett is recorded in the Daily American Organ on February 9, 1855, and in the Evening Star on February 10, 1855.  Both newspapers are published in Washington, D. C. and reported that both Smith Bennett and Robert A. Carden exhibited beautiful frames of daguerreotypes at the Exhibition of the Metropolitan Mechanic’s Institute.  Bennett and Carden both have galleries in Alexandria, Virginia.

On March 17, 1855 in the Evening Star (Washington, D. C.) the following announcement appeared of the premiums issued at the fair.  Rehearing And Confirmation.—The Judges on daguerreotypes had a rehearing yesterday at the request of one of the disappointed, which resulted in the unanimous confirmation of the opinion declared on Wednesday evening, viz.  Smith Bennett, of Alexandria, Va., silver medal for the best daguerreotypes and stereoscopes.

Smith Bennett is not recorded in other photographic directories but Nathan S. Bennett, Nahum S. Bennett and Robert A. Carden are recorded in a number of directories and newspaper advertisement in other location.

There is evidence that suggest that Smith Bennett is almost certainly Nahum S. Bennett who has galleries in Washington, D. C. (1850-1852) and Alexandria, Virginia (1855-1857.)  I would also like to tie Nathan S. Bennett into the mix but no concrete information has been found to substantiate this theory.

J. H. B. Beck

J. H. B. Beck was recorded in two advertisements in The National Whig (Washington, D. C.)  The first appeared on April 30 and ran until June 1, 1847.

Beck’s Daguerreotype Rooms!  One hundred per cent cheaper than the cheapest!  Likenesses taken in the best style inferior to none, either singly or in groups at the very reduced price of $1.50!!! each.  Specimens may be seen at the rooms over the Furnishing Store of L. S. Beck, E street near the General Post Office.  Remember the price $1.50.  Groups in proportion.

On June 1, 1847 the second advertisement appeared and ran until September 29, 1847.

$1.50  Beck’s  $1.50 Daguerreotype Rooms, Removed to the corner of 7th street and Penn avenue, over Stott’s Drug Store.  Accurate and highly finished Portraits for $1.50, Groups in Proportion.  Post Mortem cases attended to with promptitude and certain success at a reasonable advance.  A share of the public patronage in most respectfully solicited.

Beck is not recorded in other directories.

Albert Beach

Albert Beach is recorded in the New York Daily Tribune (New York, New York) on July 12, 1848 in the partnership of Paige & Beach. The advertisement reads in part.

Henry Clay In His 71st. Year.—Published this day, (June 6, 1848.) by E. Anthony, 205 Broadway, a beautiful steel mezzotint engraving of Henry Clay, drawn and engraved from several Daguerreotypes by H. H. Ritchie.[1]  This likeness was mainly taken from a fine Daguerreotype now in the possession of the subscriber, executed by Messrs. Paige & Beach, Washington.

The second entry was actually the first mention of the Albert Beach that I came across which appeared in the American Telegraph (Washington, D. C.) on July 8, 1851.

A sad case.—about a week ago the records of the Criminal Court should that Albert Beach had been found guilty of obtaining money under false pretenses; and he was yesterday sentenced by Judge Crawford to the Penitentiary for eighteen months.

This man is, we suppose, about thirty-six years old.  He was educated to commercial business in the city of New York, where he afterward held a profitable and responsible position in one of the first establishments.  He subsequently followed the business of daguerreotyping in this city, with apparently very good success; and while so engaged, two or three years ago, married a most estimable and excellent young lady.  To the surprise of many, however, he suddenly sold out his interest in the daguerreotyping establishment, and threw himself out of business for a time; but after a little commenced an auction store, in which his career was brief, as many who had come to know him predicted.  His course was then rapidly downward, and instead of “swelling” at the hotels he turned to lounging at the groggeries; and instead of trying to effect “transactions” at wholesale stores, his aim was simply to “do” some poor fool out of a few dollars.  Caught in one of these tricks, he has at least been sentenced to the felon’s punishment…

After checking Craig’s Daguerreian Registry Beach was not list but Blanchard P. Paige was.  I checked part of Laurie Baty’s unpublished research of Nineteenth Century Washington, D. C. Photographers, and found an entry that said that he they worked at Plumbe’s studio.

[1] Alexander Hay Ritchie, Engraver, genre, portrait, and figure painter.