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My Likeness Taken: Daguerreian Portraits in America, 1840-1860 Hardcover – January 1, 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joan Severa is a retired from her position as curator of custome at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Her book "Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900(Kent State Universiy Press, 1995) received the prestigious Davenport Award from the Custome Society of America adn Several other rspected awards.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Kent State University Press; 1St Edition edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873388372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873388375
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.1 x 11.3 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: #1,615,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Henry Berry on July 4, 2006
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 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
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 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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...but the text is not...Ms.Severa claims to be an"expert"on 19th century fashion.She may well have the credentials to back this up but after reading her text and captions in this volume I have my doubts...
First of all unlike now, communication in the 19th century was not instantaneous..Ms.Severa admits this..A"Godey's ladies book"arriving in some newly settled area may well be a year or more old,and fashions featured in it may well have been out of date at least as far as places like New York or Washington D.C. were concerned.Second,not everyone who sat for a picture wore up-to-date fashions,or even recent fashions..Most dags,and most cabinet card and other 19th century photographs do not feature fashion plates but instead feature average people....and most average people both men and women did not have the ability to keep current fashion-wise.I cannot believe that Ms.Severa is not aware of this fact.Thus when she ENDLESSLY describes the various frills and curves and do-dads that decorate a particular dress in a particular Dag and thereby dates it it is a best guess at best...and,heck,I can make just as good a best guess as Ms.Severa...
Many photographs from the 19th century are dated,just as many from the 20th century are..Seeing Uncle Harry sitting on a front porch in his old "Fonzie"teeshirt does not mean that the picture was snapped when"Happy Days"was still a current hit on the T.V.,and yet given the way an"expert"like Ms.Severa determines dating in this book this would be the conclusion that she would draw from Uncle Harry's photograph.
Given that the sub-title of this volume is"Daguerrian portraits in America"one would think that the focus would indeed be on the portraits themselves...Alas this is not the case.
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