The collection includes 22 daguerreotype portraits of Henry Fitz Jr (1808-63) and his family. Fitz, a New York city telescope maker, was among the first to conduct experiments with the daguerreotype process. His knowledge helped to develop the first patented American camera and the first photographic portrait studio in the US.
While single images from this period exist, most are anonymous and undated. By contrast, the Fitz archive can be dated to the short period between around January 1840 and the autumn of 1842.
The archive was recently discovered in an unheated shed near Peconic, Long Island. The photographs had descended through the family of Fitz’s son George Wells Fitz (1860-1934) and includes several extra portraits of Fitz, his wife and sister, and other images presumed to be members of his family. The archive stayed in George’s workshop and office in a shed behind the family home for nearly eight decades. The images were rediscovered in early 2020 in preparation of the sale of the property.
The collection will be offered with an estimate of $150,000-300,000 at Hindman Auctions on November 15.