Over the past few years, I've been collecting digital copies of "occupational" images that have appeared online. This post will be the first in an intermittant series highlighting these photographs of men and women with the tools of their trades.
This incredible 1840s daguerreotype shows a young workman holding a small smith's hammer. He wears an interesting brimless cap of the sort common in this decade, although more commonly such caps also featured brims. The U.S. Army adopted one such brimmed version in the 1839 model "forage cap." The vertical seam just visible on this worker's left breast indicates that the front of his shirt was a finer linen panel. This was a common feature nineteenth-century shirts, a technique used to conserve better fabric. When wearing this shirt with a vest and coat, only the breast area, made from a finer fabric, would be visible. Adding to the impromptu appearance of this photograph are the man's rolled sleeves, as if he had just stepped away from his workbench.