Daguerreian Society

On this day (October 7) in the year 1874, this reminiscence appeared in 
the "Juniata Sentinel Republican" (Pennsylvania):
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

How the Dog Got His Likeness Taken--As the story we are about to tell 
may seem incredible to some of our readers, we will preface it by 
stating that its literal truth is vouched for by a well-known lady of 
Lowell, Mass., Mrs C. A. Richardson, a sister-in-law of President 
Grant's Secretary of the Treasury.
  Caesar was a fine Newfoundland dog of great intelligence, owned by 
Mrs R.  One morning she took the dog, with some of the children of her 
family, to a daguerreotype-room, with the view of having a picture 
taken of the group.
  For nearly an hour Mrs R. tried to place Caesar in a posture suitable 
for the purpose of getting a likeness; but, when she thought he was all 
right, he would slowly get up, shake his huge body, and, of course, 
spoil the picture.
  Annoyed at his conduct, Mrs R. opened the door, and, in a stern 
voice, said to Caesar: 'Go home, sir!  You have displeased me very 
much: you shall not stay with us any longer.'  Hereupon Caesar slunk 
away with a crestfallen look; and Mrs R. made no further attempt to put 
him in the picture.  But the next day, much to her surprise, Caesar 
came home with a box tied round his neck.  What could it mean?  He 
seemed to be greatly pleased, and wagged his tail expressively while 
waiting for the opening of the box.
  His mistress was still more surprised when she found that it 
contained a fine daguerreotype of Caesar himself.
  At her earliest convenience she called on Mr S., the daguerreotypist, 
to inquire how he had succeeded in enticing the dog into his room, and 
keeping him quiet.  Mr S. said, that on the morning following the 
failure, he heard a noise in the entry as if some one was thumping on 
the door.
  On opening it he found Caesar standing there with wistful and eager 
face.  Mr S. tried to drive him away; but the dog insisted on entering; 
then walked to the old place directly in front of the instrument, and 
sat quietly down, as much to say: 'Now, sir, I am ready to make amends 
for my undignified behaviour of yesterday.'
  Seeing at once what the dog wanted, Mr S. took the hint, placed his 
instrument aright; and the result was a very fine picture.
  As soon as he saw that Mr S. had done with him, Caesar rose and 
stretched himself, with the satisfaction of one who had wiped out a 
disgrace by making reparation.  He then waited for the daguerreotype 
which Mr S. tied around his neck, and trotted home with it to his 
  After the specimen of his sagacity, Caesar was more a favourite than 
ever.  He died many years ago, but the daguerreotype likeness which he 
obtained is still treasured in his mistress's family, and we are glad 
to be able to record this story in our pages as a tribute to his 

(Cited, with introductory comments by Jay Ruby, in "History of 
Photography" 10:1 [January-March 1986] 81.)
Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

Return to: DagNews 1997

galleries society info what's new feedback
resources homepage search

Copyright 1996, The Daguerreian Society -