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Oldest Surviving Photograph of a U.S. President Has Surfaced: The 1843 daguerreotype of John Quincy Adams was discovered by a descendant of Vermont Rep. Horace Everett

August 18, 2017

This March 1843 portrait, taken in Washington, D.C., is the oldest known photo of a U.S. president. (Sotherby’s)

August 18, 2017, Smithsonian magazine — Smithsonian magazine’s Ben Panko reported today that someone will soon have the chance to own a 174-year-old piece of American history — the oldest-known original photograph of a U.S. president that surfaced and is set to go on sale this fall.

“An invaluable document, this daguerreotype [crystallizes] a remarkable moment in the history of photography and American politics,” the auction house Sotheby’s announced in a statement detailing the auction, which is planned for October 5.

Taken in March 1843 in Washington, D.C., the daguerreotype beats out another surviving photograph from just a few months later, when Adams sat for a portrait in New York that he later deemed “hideous,” reports Jennifer Schuessler of the New York Times. That image is now held by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery.

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