A Francis Henry Grice Half-Plate Daguerreotype Proposed to Be William Wines Phelps, Member of the Morman Council of Fifty, Printer, and Scribe.

As a poor man’s substitute for provenance for the right image below, the author offers this excerpt from Wilford Woodward’s 1845 letter to Phelps: “I will Endeaver to attend to your spectacles when I can have an opportunity. Write occosionlly give my love to Cla[r]k, ^W & L^ Richards [&] the Twelve & all who inqure after me. Mrs. Woodruff wishes to be remembeed to you all.”

Letter to William Wines Phelps, 29 October 1845 [LE – 965] (wilfordwoodruffpapers.org)

3 thoughts on “A Francis Henry Grice Half-Plate Daguerreotype Proposed to Be William Wines Phelps, Member of the Morman Council of Fifty, Printer, and Scribe.

  1. Rather likely at attribution. It appears that the scar on his forehead in Grice’s image disappeared by the later image. Is the Library of Congress paying any attention to your researches?

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  2. Hi Tom:
    The forehead scar is a parallel series of scratches on the image, I believe. Downloading the hi-res TIFF from the LOC makes this easier to ascertain. The number of people who have viewed these posts is small, probably under 50. OTOH, I have not submitted any of this to the LOC. Being the most amateur of photographers, I am leery of the measurement idea. The change in perspective with lens of different focal lengths is theoretically measurable. For a 35mm camera a 50mm focal length is good for full body photos and an 85mm for head portrait shots. But the measurements only could work with standardized (or at least known) focal lengths, distances, and angles of the poses (parallax effect). As your buddy Holmes would say “when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. ” Here I do make certain assumptions. The crucial one is that I assume most, and maybe all, of the LOC Grice dags were captured during his trip to Nauvoo in the summer of 1844. Most of the Mormon Missionaries scurried back to Nauvoo after the murder of the Smiths on June 27. I can place the names for whom I have proposed identities in Nauvoo by August. This Bayesian concept greatly increases the prior probability that my proposals might be correct and reduces my personal apophenia bias effect. But only a fool is positive!
    Best,
    Rod

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