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My Likeness Taken: Daguerreian Portraits In America Hardcover – March 15, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joan Severa is retired from her position as curator of costume at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Her book Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900 (Kent State University Press, 1995) received the prestigious Davenport Award from the Costume Society of America and several other respected awards.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 301 pages
  • Publisher: Kent State Univ Pr; 1St Edition edition (March 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873388372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873388375
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,488,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Severa examines daguereotypes of American women and some children and men for what can be learned about American fashion in the 1840s and '50s. Severa is a former curator of costume at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. That she examines over 250 and has something different to point out about American fashion with each one attests to the variety and bountifulness of the fashion during the short period of the two decades--which is what the author wanted to demonstrate by the daguerreotypes. Women in the earlier 1800s had more fashion choices than they did in the middle and latter nineteenth century. "In the 1840s the visible model [for women's fashion] was taken, as it had been for centuries, from royalty." Designers in Paris and other fashion centers quickly picked up on the fashions displayed by queens, princesses, and duchesses in their marriage ceremonies, crownings, and other public appearances. And these trend-setting fashions were quickly picked up by American women in turn. Most of the women in the daguerreotypes are well-to-do, able to keep up with the latest and the finest fashion of the era. In addition to noting and naming parts of the fashions visible in the numerous daguerreotypes, Severa makes comments on such points as materials and unseen features cut off by the frames which most readers would not be aware of. "The dress is of rich silk, with fitted sleeves, fan front bodice, and full bouffant skirt" is part of her description of the dress of one young woman. The author's enthusiasm for the subject and succinct, informative annotations along with the pictures of actual historical persons make this an especially enjoyable survey of this short but exceptionally rich period of American fashion.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A wonderful resurce for those interested in 19th century American costume and early photography, following the author's earlier work "Dressed for the Photographer". The amount of fine detail given and breadth of knowledge displayed is awe inspiring.
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Format: Hardcover
A fine collection of likenesses taken from 1840 to 1860, printed on high quality paper with good descriptions about each photograph. And, if there are multiple folks in the picture, Ms. Severa will write about each. The photos are as clear as can be. If I had one complaint, however, I would have liked to see less blank on the pages and larger pictures. But, this would have most likely driven the price up.
But, I do like the fact that there are more males in this book than in her previous book. This helps me greatly when working on my period wardrobe for my reenacting excursions.
For a book of this caliber, the price is excellent.
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Format: Hardcover
My Likeness Taken has all the makings of a great book. The research, writing, and image selection are of the highest quality. If not for the problem outlined below, I'd give it five stars.

Quite simply, a good portion of the photographs are out of focus. You might say "These are daguerreotypes, are you sure that it's not the photographs themselves that are out of focus?"

I am sure - on the worst instances, it's quite obvious that both the case and the image are equally fuzzy - if it was just that the dag was blurry, the case for it should still be in sharp focus.

By my count, about 13% of the images are obviously out of focus, while another 17% appear to not be as sharp as they should be - all told, 30% of the imagery in the book.

This simply isn't acceptable in this day and age - especially in something produced by a major university press.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very poor production quality. Many of the scans were of poor quality, just out of focus or incredibly low resolution artifacted images. The quality of scans was just unacceptable, if a good resolution scan of the daguerreotype was not available then it needed to be left out of the book. Just about every image from the Naylor collection had an unacceptably bad scan (if I remember correctly).

Additionally many of the descriptions were clearly wrong or mismatched with the image presented (one in particular described a woman wearing glasses, no glasses anywhere in sight). This book needed a lot more editing and better production.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow, this book is packed with excellent period photos, and the descriptions that accompany them are accurate and very interesting. I found the author's observations to be very insightful and quite helpful when it came to really analyzing the picture. You may look at a picture and not really 'see' the picture, and this book does an excellent job of training your eye to pick up the details that define the era. If you are interested in fashion history, and dating photos then this book is a must, and very well worth the money.
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My Likeness Taken: Daguerreian Portraits In America
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