These beautiful Victorian portraits are a type of early photograph called daguerreotypes. Invented by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre in the 1830s the photographic image is imprinted onto a silvered copper plate, making each portrait unique.
The photos created using this method are sharp and show a beautiful focus and clarity compared to early photos using photographic paper. Sadly though daguerreotypes are very fragile and the vast majority of these type of early photos have been lost. The collection that these pictures were taken from were all covered by glass or kept in protective cases to help preserve them. During the time these photos would have been taken, between 1840 and 1960, only the privileged could afford to have their portrait taken. These portraits were all taken by Boston-based photographic studio Southworth & Hawes.
Above: Albert Sands Southworth, c. 1848.