Joseph Smith’s Daguerreotype – An Appeal for Help

Joseph Smith Daguerreotype (Low-Res Color)

Uploaded Images

I present three resolutions of the same image for your viewing pleasure. Click the images or links below, which will open up a new page with a larger image, then click the larger image, wait for it to load, and then you can click the image again to make it even larger. The three resolutions to choose from are 200 dpi, 300 dpi and 600 dpi.

First the 200 dpi scan:

Joseph Smith Daguerrotype (BW scan) 200 dpi
Click Above Thumbnail (or this link) to View the 592 Kb (200 dpi) Image

Next, the 300 dpi scan:

Joseph Smith Daguerrotype (BW scan) 300 dpi

Click Above Thumbnail (or this link) to View the 1 Mb (300 dpi) Image

Finally, the 600 dpi scan:

Click This Link to View the 5 Mb (600 dpi) Image

Compare this image to a frontal view of Joseph Smith’s death mask. Also compare it to an angled view of the death mask.  Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

A color photograph of the daguerreotype is found in the book, Retratos Quase Inocentes. The actual daguerreotype is at the Paulista Museum of the University of Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Original Post Follows

Years ago I was working at a book distributor of Latin American art books as a cataloger. What this meant was that virtually every book that came in went through my hands first. Now, I know both English and Spanish, so that job wasn’t too hard, but occasionally, we’d get a book from Brazil, which, of course, was written in Portuguese.

One (fateful?) day, a curious book was placed in my hands. It was a Brazilian book about a museum exhibition of early daguerrotypes. (Daguerrotypes were an early type of photograph.) I flipped through the pages to get a feel for the book, which had, of course, lots of pictures, before I started writing my summary of its contents. I admit, the old pictures were interesting to look at and I may have taken more time than I should have, going through each and every page instead of skipping here and there, but it turned out to be just the thing I needed to do. I turned a page and suddenly was face-to-face with the strangest daguerrotype I had ever seen.

Unlike the other pictures, which were placed several to a page and had very short text descriptions, this particular daguerrotype was placed on the entire left-hand page and the author of the book used the entire opposite page to write about it. It was obvious that this daguerrotype was considered worthy of more notice than the others. And it did stand out, for it was colorized and set into a frame with a hinged cover, so that it could be closed and carried around and then flipped open to show to people. But the most startling aspect of it was that it appeared to be Joseph Smith himself.

I tried my best to read the Portuguese text (using my knowledge of Spanish) and determined that the daguerrotype was acquired from New York in 1844, but nothing else was known about it or its subject. The author of the book proceeded to analyze the pose, dress and face of the man and the exquisite sharpness and quality of the daguerrotype (it was the best preserved of all those in the book), plus the way it was framed, etc., and he came to the conclusion that the man must have thought he was something really special and had a commanding look about him. Perhaps he was a congressman or someone else in authority, etc.

I made (not very good) photocopies of the page on the company copier, took them home, and showed them to a family member, to see what she thought. She thought it did look like Smith. I then contacted Salt Lake City, calling them up, and told them what I had found and what I thought it might be. The lady I spoke to said that they were no longer acquiring that type of item and weren’t interested. She suggested I go through my local leadership. So, I took the photocopies I had made and showed them to my bishop, asking him who it looked like. He said it looked like one of the Smith brothers. I told him I thought it was Joseph and that it should be followed up, but that Salt Lake wanted nothing from me and said to go through the local leadership. He said to take the copies to his first counselor and he’d take care of it. I took the copies to the first counselor and left it at that. Months later I approached the first counselor and asked what happened. He didn’t recall the incident and didn’t have the copies! (The bishop had forgotten about it, too.) By this time, though, the book had been sold and I couldn’t make more copies (and I had not saved a copy for myself.)

Nevertheless, I had kept the name and info of the book in question, for I knew that the daguerrotype was sitting in someone’s collection somewhere in Brazil. I even tried contacting Brazilian saints to go and check out the exhibition and find out information about it, but could not make contact with anyone willing.

I shelved the whole thing, finally, figuring that if church headquarters and local leadership wasn’t interested in it, then that’s that. At least I had gotten a good look at the prophet, if it was, indeed, him.

Recently, though, I found out that it was being exhibited again in a Brazilian museum. However, I cannot contact the museum myself, as I do not know Portuguese. If, therefore, you want to help, and you know Portuguese, please translate the following email for me, which I will send along:

Subject: Inquiry about one of your exhibits

Body of Message: To the Director of the Museu Paulista da Universidade de São Paulo:

Hello! I’d like to make an inquiry about the Coleção Carlos Eugênio Marcondes de Moura (retratos fotográficos). I have read the book Retratos Quase Inocentes by Carlos Eugenio M. de Moura and I noticed that one of the daguerrotypes (early type of photograph) was of an unknown individual whose likeness very much resembles that of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) That I know of, there is no known daguerrotype of Joseph Smith, but you may have in your collection the only one of him. The daguerrotype in question came out of New York City around the year 1844, according to Carlos Eugenio’s book, and was colorized.

I am writing to you to alert you to this possibility, as, if it is indeed of Joseph Smith, you are sitting on a very rare artifact that the Mormon church would be extremely interested in. Please confirm that you do have the daguerrotype in question in your collection.

Thank you.

Addendum – Saturday, March 22, 2008

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a blog post entitled, Is this Joseph Smith?, which contains a quote by historian Will Bagley, who said, “Smith recorded having his picture taken in 1844.” Now, I wasn’t aware that Joseph Smith wrote down that he got his picture taken in 1844. I find the fact that the daguerreotype I saw came out of New York in 1844 to be awfully coincidental.

Addendum – Monday, March 24, 2008

I just got off the phone with Cecilia Oliveira of the Paulista Museum of the University of Sao Paulo. She spoke Spanish, thankfully, and I was able to tell her that I believed I could name the unknown man in one of the portraits found in the book Retratos Quase Inocentes. She told me to email her and explain everything, which I did. Apparently, the exhibit is no longer at the museum. I am sure, though, that she can easily locate the portrait. I’ll post a report of whatever I receive from her when I get it.

In case anyone wants to do their own investigative work, and especially if you know Portuguese, the number to the museum is + 55 + 11 + 6165 – 8000 (Country Code = 55, City Code = 11, Number = 6165 – 8000.) Their email address is

There is a one hour difference in time between New York and Sao Paolo. (When it is 9 a.m. in New York, it is 10 a.m. in Sao Paolo.) The museum is open from at 9 a.m. – 4: 45 p.m. Good luck.

Addendum – Monday, March 24, 2008

Okay, as I’m now in the mindset of tracking down this daguerrotype and showing it to the church, at least to those who visit this page, I’ve found the web site of Carlos Eugenio M. de Moura. He didn’t used to have a web site, but now he does. So, I just now dropped him an email and we’ll see if I get any response…

Addendum – Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mr. Moura was gracious enough to respond to my email. It turns out he speaks English. He has confirmed that the daguerrotype in question is, in fact, at the Museu Paulista – Universidade de São Paulo. He also gave me information on where and when he acquired it. He has also given me the name of the person at the museum in charge of the collection. I guess I’ll be making another phone call to Brazil tomorrow…

Addendum – Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Apparently, not all of the photocopies I made were lost. There was one copy that I showed (and apparently gave) to my mother. When I talked to her today about that picture I showed her years ago, she said that she still had it and proceeded to go to a file cabinet and produce the saved photocopy. It was filed under “Special Papers.”

I am now producing scanned images of the photocopy, which you can view at the top of this article. Hopefully, the museum will send me a color scan of the original. If and when I get it, I’ll upload it. Still, you should be able to tell a lot from what you see here.

One correction: upon looking over the photocopy today, I discovered that my recollection of the daguerreotype coming out of New York in 1844 was off by one year. It actually left New York in 1845.

Although I have something to go on to track down the history of the daguerrotype, thanks to Mr. Moura, without a provenance, the Church Historical Department probably won’t even look at it, according to some opinions. However, there may be a way around this. If you view the above images, and think it may be the missing picture of the Prophet, write, call, email or visit in person the Church Historical Department, historians, your bishop, stake president and everyone. If they are flooded with “demands” of making an inquiry and investigation about this particular image, which it might be easy to trace, they may assign someone to track it down and we can find out if it is, indeed, the Prophet.

Addendum – Friday, March 28, 2008

The Church Historical Archives – I arranged to have the 600 dpi scan emailed to the church historical archive on the 26th and this time the lady on the phone was interested in receiving the image. As yet, though, the archive has not emailed back a response.

Museu Paulista – Universidade de São Paulo – Cecilia Oliveira of the museum never responded to the emails that I sent her per her request. However, on the 27th (yesterday) I sent a detailed email to the contact person at the museum that Mr. Moura gave me, again asking for a color scan either to be sent to me or posted on the museum web site. Today I received an email response. They will be sending me a “reference copy of this portrait (low resolution), in the next week, and also the museum proceedings for having a copy and the rights for uses.”

Addendum – Monday, April 7, 2008

This afternoon I sent an email to the curator at the museum because I hadn’t received the promised low-res color scan. Tonight I received a response along with the expected image. Apparently, though, I have to email someone else to learn how to buy a high resolution image and also the rules for usage.

I also learned that the Moura Daguerreotype (which is what I will call it from now on) was purchased by the museum in 2003, along with Mr. Moura’s entire collection. It does not appear that the museum has done any inspection of the daguerreotype to determine if there is anything written on it, as they just thought of it as an anonymous daguerreotype portrait until I mentioned its similarity to J.S. Now they are very interested in learning its origins (understandably) and wish to be informed of any progress in this area.

Addendum – Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I sent an email yesterday inquiring about a high-res scan and rules of usage, but I still haven’t received a response, so I’m going to assume that permission was already granted to post the low-res color scan on a web site, which I’ve now done at the top of this post. As I wasn’t prohibited from doing so and as they understood that that was my intention, this is the assumption I’m going on. If it turns out I’m wrong, I’ll remove it.

Addendum – Monday, April 14, 2008

The museum is very keen on finding out the origins of the daguerreotype. They are going to analyze it and photograph it in high resolution to determine if there are any markings on it, whatsoever. They plan on providing me a scan of their photographs. (It may cost me some money, though.)

Mr. Moura has said that he acquired the daguerreotype from the Armory Show in New York City in 1966. He paid 5 or 10 dollars for it. He looked it over himself, but did not see any maker’s marks on it. By comparison with other daguerreotypes, and based on the hair style, collar, suit, etc., he put it at circa 1845. As he acquired it from New York City, it is listed as: New York, c. 1845. He also has confirmed that it is an original daguerreotype, not a copy.

Addendum – Friday, April 25, 2008

The museum sent me an email tonight. It is going to cost me some dough to get them to make a high resolution scan of the daguerreotype. The email was kind of in broken English, so I’m not really sure whether I need to send $75 USD or $50 USD, transferred to their bank account. It will be R$ 120.00. That much I know. I’m not ready to dish out that dough right now. If anyone wants to put forth the money, let me know and I’ll give you the museum contact information that I have and you can obtain a high-res image to post on the Internet. The permissions will be very restrictive: just putting it on a web site page, not in an article or in a book. If someone comes forth and does this, I’ll link to the image from this blog.

Addendum – Monday, June 23, 2008

As I’m now ready to pay for a high-res scan of the dag, I emailed the museum last week and also telephoned, but no one responded to my email, nor was I able to get anyone who spoke English or Spanish on the phone.  I will continue to resend the email until I finally get a response.

Addendum – Thursday, June 26, 2008

Yesterday I received an email from the museum contact.  She stated that she has been on vacation (and still is) and hasn’t been checking her emails.  As I had made some requests concerning the high resolution scan, she indicated that she didn’t know the answer to those questions, but would ask those who did know and forward their responses to me.  I’ll post more info as I get it.

Next Joseph Smith article: Romans 13: 1-7 and Joseph Smith

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist



  1. You could always type up whatever you wanted to say, then go to google and in the language tools section translate it from English to Portugese. That is if no one is willing to translate it for you. I used to do that with Chinese all the time. It isn’t perfect, but it is better than nothing.

  2. I expect that I’ll have to do just. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Okay, I waited a whole month and received no response. (I expected as much.) So, today, I took your advice and Google-translated it and sent it off in an email. If I get a response, I’ll post it here.

  4. The daguerrotype you saw wouldn’t happen to be this one, would it?

    Also the famous JS picture at is thought to have been from a daguerrotype in the possession of JS III.

  5. No, neither of those images is the daguerrotype that I saw. The images you linked were frontal pictures, with the subject looking straight at the camera, but what I saw was an angled shot, with the subject looking to the right of the camera. This afforded better 3-d field perception of the contours of the face and although the nose was prominent, it was not the feature that caught my eye the most. It was the subject’s eyes that commanded attention. He was also seated, so that much of the body could be seen. The daguerrotypes you linked are of poor quality, too, whereas the one I saw was of excellent quality, very sharp and detailed and very well preserved. The image is in the book Retratos Quase Inocentes by Carlos Eugenio M. de Moura, if anyone wants to track it down and take a look at it. The original is also, undoubtedly, in the Paulista Museum of the University of Sao Paolo, Brazil. I haven’t heard back from them. I may have to just telephone them long distance but since I don’t know Portuguese, I’m not sure that I’ll get too far, unless someone there knows English. If I come across a person who is bilingual in English and Portuguese, I’ll make that call and have them translate for me, but as yet, I don’t know of anyone who fits this description.

    At any rate, thank you for your comments and research.

  6. My son is fluent in English and Portuguese. Do you still need help with this? Where do you live? He lives in Utah.


  7. Yes, I still need help translating. I did a machine translation, but they are not very good and I got no response from anyone at the museum. I’ll email you personally. Thanks for the offer.

  8. I’d be really curious to see the photocopies you made, would you be able to post those, or send them to me via email? Thanks!

  9. I gave all the copies to the bishop’s counselor and never saw them again. When I asked him about them later, he didn’t recall ever receiving them. But if you want to dish out dough to get the actual book and see the pic for yourself, I linked to a bookseller who carries it. (See the fifth comment on this thread.)

  10. […] This Joseph Smith? Part II Over on LDS Anarchy (love that name), there is a daguerrotype that does indeed look like it could be Joseph Smith. […]

  11. […] Another photo of Joseph Smith? LDS Anarchist has images of another another purported daguerrotype of Joseph Smith. It looks quite different from the other one. […]

  12. […] you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!New Proposed Photocopy of Daguerreotype of Joseph SmithConsidering all the […]

  13. Have you compared the picture to his death mask?

  14. Yep, quantumsaint. To me it matches the death mask more closely than any other proposed image I’ve yet seen. I probably ought to get a picture of the death mask and put that up as a comparison, huh?

  15. You also need to get a copy of descriptive text in Portuguese you said was on the facing page:

    “Unlike the other pictures, which were placed several to a page and had very short text descriptions, this particular daguerrotype was placed on the entire left-hand page and the author of the book used the entire opposite page to write about it. It was obvious that this daguerrotype was considered worthy of more notice than the others. And it did stand out, for it was colorized and set into a frame with a hinged cover, so that it could be closed and carried around and then flipped open to show to people. But the most startling aspect of it was that it appeared to be Joseph Smith himself.

    I tried my best to read the Portuguese text (using my knowledge of Spanish) and determined that the daguerrotype was acquired from New York in 1844, but nothing else was known about it or its subject. The author of the book proceeded to analyze the pose, dress and face of the man and the exquisite sharpness and quality of the daguerrotype (it was the best preserved of all those in the book), plus the way it was framed, etc., and he came to the conclusion that the man must have thought he was something really special and had a commanding look about him. Perhaps he was a congressman or someone else in authority, etc.”

  16. chief517, I am mainly concerned with obtaining a high resolution scan of the colorized daguerreotype reproduction found in the book. That is a hard enough task to work on. The text was written by one of the four authors that worked on the book and was, as best I could tell, mostly pure speculation, as they didn’t know who the subject was. The only important parts of the text were the earliest date and location of the acquisition of the daguerreotype.

    The photocopy that my mother has in her possession was mainly of the reproduced image. The page that contained the text was cut off vertically, so I only have the right side of the text. I’m not sure how cut off, speculative text can help, but I’ll post here the text that is viewable on this photocopy:

    |sos olhares que nunca se encontrarao. Por
    |adosamente o dadguerreotip, por mais que
    |s, nao encontro angulo em que se cruzem
    |viajar e sonhar juntos, intensamente, aven-
    |cara essa solidao, de amos os lados, que

    |ce e agora um garoto cabcludo que danca
    |lia, Zona Norte. O corpo ondula diante da
    |. Na penumbra, teu olhar amoroso passeia
    |nos teus olhos e viaja de novo pelas ondas
    |as que a roupa desenha. Meu olhar danca
    |teu corpo, mas nao consegue romper o teu
    |eu parceiro de espelho, olhos de espelho, a
    |oite passa, teu encanto nao se quebra. E a
    |e nao podia t ever. Agora toma um porre
    |avo pinga lagrmias adocicadas que escor-
    |amam-se pelo chao pisoteado e molham

    |macaquinho surge, inopinadamente. Arre-
    |ntiagudo desafia. O gesto foi instantaneo.
    |n vao. Aproveita-se balburdia inconse-
    |, ele exibe a caixinha, abre-a e desmancha-
    |Preciso e serio, lentamente a fecha. Agora,
    |ernas com o teu minicaixao e deixa leves
    |balhado. Saimos, cansados e desalentados,
    |ombros curvados, em fila Indiana camba-
    |ao ao lago envolto na neblina, e nem per-
    |de olhos de princesa ma procura o legue

    On the right hand page (the page that contains the daguerrotype reproduction) are written the following words:

    Foto 55 — Anonimo — Daguerreotipo — Daguerreotipista nao identificado — Procedencia: Nova Iorque. 1845c.

    Also, some more corrections: as seven years have passed since I last saw this photocopy, inevitably some errors in memory have occurred. The image, it turns out, is on the right side page, while the text is on the opposite page (the left side page.) Also, as anyone who looks at the scans can see, the subject is not sitting down, but is shown from the waist up. It is funny how the mind changes details as time goes on. I must have gotten this image mixed up with another daguerreotype that I saw of a man sitting down at a table, as I still recall such a daguerreotype. At any rate, I am glad to see how well my memory has held up in seven years, as it does, indeed, look just as much like the Prophet as I recalled it looking.

  17. So, has anyone mentioned yet that there is no mentioning of Joseph Smith having had a photograph? The esteemed Bagley is in error on that. Hence, no “lost” image.

  18. Yep, I would put up a death mask pic and do a side by side.

  19. Per your request, quantumsaint, I’ve put two links to front and side views of the death mask at the top of this post.

    Jared T., you’ll have to take that up with Bagley himself.

  20. Jared T., you’ll have to take that up with Bagley himself.

    Wait, so you’re just taking Bagley’s word for it because it helps your case? BTW, I showed your daguerreotype to Richard Holzapfel, who arguably knows more than anyone about early photos and daguerreotypes of early Church leaders, and his response was not very favorable to the notion that you’ve found a photo of JS.

  21. For more on the notion that there is a “lost” daguerreotype out there, please see Alex Smith’s comment here.

  22. Christopher, you need to keep in mind that you are talking to a bona fide anarchist. This LDS Anarchy blog isn’t a practical joke. I am both LDS and an anarchist. So, if you know anything at all about anarchists, you shouldn’t expect me to follow every established rule.

    When I first saw the image seven years ago, I was under the impression that there was no photograph of Joseph ever taken. Yet, what faced me was the greatest likeness of Joseph I had ever seen. I suppose I could have just forgotten about it and said, “well, everyone tells me there is no known photo of Joseph, so, even though this looks like him, it can’t be him” and just left it at that. But instead, I contacted the archives and others and tried to bring it to their attention, without success.

    When I re-broke the story last October on this blog with this post, I was still under the impression that there was no known photograph of Joseph ever taken. But, as an anarchist, who cares?! No known photograph simply means no one knows of a photograph ever being taken. It doesn’t mean that there wasn’t ever a photograph taken.

    It was just last week that I learned that Bagley said a daguerreotype was taken. I’m not basing anything on Bagley. Bagley’s statement, whether true or false, is just another piece of this puzzle to take into consideration.

    We have a body of facts of things we know and don’t know, which paint a picture that each one must interpret for themselves. Many of these facts can be confirmed. For example, my story can easily be confirmed as true. I’ve put contact information on this web page to show that I’m not making this up.

    I don’t have a “case.” It doesn’t matter what I believe or you believe. What I want to know is if this is Joseph Smith. That requires experts to dig in and start investigative work, which they won’t, or up until now, haven’t been willing to do. So, as an anarchist, I’m taking this to the people. I’m showing the people what I’ve found. There may be private people or groups out there who take an interest and do something about it, to make the determination as to who this actually is. Someone needed to start a fire up people’s you-know-what and I am perfectly willing to be the one to do that.

    As there is no proof that this is not a photograph of Joseph and as there is no proof that a daguerreotype of Joseph was never taken, and as this daguerreotype looks uncannily like Joseph’s description, we have every cause to follow up on this, even without a full provenance. There is enough here to warrant an investigative look, at the very least.

    Btw, I don’t know who Holzapfel is. Actually, before last week, I had never heard of Bagley, either. Should I be impressed by the names of these men?

  23. Wow.

  24. I thought that would impress you.

  25. Hello,
    I am from Brazil and I live in Salt Lake City and work in the Translation Department for the LDS Church. I have a personal desire to help. My wife works for United and I can go to Brazil and check it out.
    Please let me know if I can help.

  26. Thank you for the offer, Fabio. I appreciate it. So far, I’ve discovered that the owner of the daguerreotype and the contact at the museum both speak English, so it isn’t necessary to translate anything at this point. I think the best thing to do is wait for the color image to be released next week, along with any other information that the museum gives on the origins. Mr. de Moura actually already told me when and where and who he acquired the daguerreotype from, as well as how much it cost him. When I get further information next week, I’ll release the information that I have and those who want to help trace the image can do so. As we are now a global church, we don’t need to fly anyone down to Brazil or to New York or to Illinois. It may be as simple as alerting members in the area that someone is needed to go to such and such a seller and make inquiries about the daguerreotype. If members are needed to actually go to the museum in Brazil, you may be able to help in explaining to them in Portuguese what is needed.

    I don’t think that any scholars or academics in the church will be interested in tracing the origins of the image. Any leaders who are interested will probably refer the information to the church archives, which will not do anything because we don’t (yet) have a provenance. Academics, wanna-be scholars and people who worship such individuals have so far just been sarcastic and mocking and I expect them to keep up the act. That’s perfectly fine with me. Academics have a vested interest in not giving their opinion on something they see as shaky as best. They may lose face in the academic community, lose their job, etc. This daguerreotype obviously looks like Joseph, more so than any of the others and anyone can see it. If there ever was a daguerreotype taken of Joseph, this is the most likely candidate. Both from its appearance and from its (as yet) limited provenance and from other information. It would be foolish to not investigate this particular image, yet that seems to be the attitude of academics and those who worship them. I expect that it will be through the efforts of individuals like you and me, who offer their services free of charge, in the interest of discovering who this man in the picture is. So I again thank you for your offer.

  27. Thanks for your comments, and please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

  28. I agree LDS Anarchist, this is a very compelling image, keep up the inquiry, I think it very well could be genuine.

  29. Cool stuff. What was that you said about not seeing some photocopy for 7 years? And what kind of bishop did you have? LoL.

  30. We know a little bit about the anatomy of Joseph and would be happy to use that research to test this image, in doing so there are a few things that will help that evaluation. Can an original of the Daguerreotype be found or a good enough image be found that will show the whole image including any stamping which will show makers mark and such? We have always been under the thoughts that if there is one photo of Joseph there can be more and probable are. If you want our help I am sure that my team would like to assist. The image that I have seen on line has too many reprinting artifacts to clearly see some of the details that I would like to see to test the anatomy of Joseph. But open minds should always be at the heart of all research.

  31. Christopher, you need to keep in mind that you are talking to a bona fide anarchist. This LDS Anarchy blog isn’t a practical joke. I am both LDS and an anarchist. So, if you know anything at all about anarchists, you shouldn’t expect me to follow every established rule.

    Um … okay. I don’t think anything I said could be interpreted as challenging the sincerity of your devotion to anarchy, though. I don’t expect you to follow “ever established rule.” But I would expect any thoughtful person to allow common sense to play into his or her decisions. Anarchists do believe in common sense, don’t they?

    Btw, I don’t know who Holzapfel is. Actually, before last week, I had never heard of Bagley, either. Should I be impressed by the names of these men?

    In the case of examining 19th century daguerreotypes, you shouldn’t be impressed with Bagley, but you should pay attention to Holzapfel, yes. He’s an expert in both 19th -century Mormon history, and a foremost scholar of daguerreotypes.

    Academics, wanna-be scholars and people who worship such individuals have so far just been sarcastic and mocking and I expect them to keep up the act. That’s perfectly fine with me. Academics have a vested interest in not giving their opinion on something they see as shaky as best. They may lose face in the academic community, lose their job, etc.

    Your ignorance of academics and scholars in this statement is astounding. Scholars live for making these sort of finds. They constantly put their reputation on the line to publish some new information or interpretation of the past. That is what historians do.

    This daguerreotype obviously looks like Joseph, more so than any of the others and anyone can see it. If there ever was a daguerreotype taken of Joseph, this is the most likely candidate.

    No, it doesn’t “obviously look like Joseph.” Because we have no other photographs of JS, it is impossible to say that your discovery obviously looks like Joseph. We have paintings and portraits of JS, but even those vary in their depiction of JS. Does your discovery look like it could be Joseph? Sure. But so do many, many other daguerreotypes that individuals have found in similar fashion to how you found yours.

  32. Jonathan, my recollection was that I had given every photocopy I made to the bishop’s counselor, which he misplaced. Last week I discovered that I was in error.

    Stracy, you and your group are welcome to analyze the daguerreotype. The daguerreotype is in a musuem in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Carlos Eugenio M. de Moura is the owner. You can consult the book Retratos Quase Inocentes to see a color reproduction of it. The contact info is found above on this page.

    Christopher, I’m glad to learn that Holzapfel is a daguerreotype expert. As the esteemed Holzapfel has not analyzed the daguerreotype in question, which is sitting in a museum in Brazil, but has only looked at a gray-scale scan of a poorly xeroxed black and white photocopy of a color, printed reproduction of the actual daguerreotype, your assessment that “his response was not very favorable to the notion that you’ve found a photo of JS” doesn’t tell me a whole heck of a lot.

    The Moura Daguerreotype or Brazilian Daguerreotype or New York Daguerreotype or Anarchist Daguerreotype (I wonder what designation people will attach to it?) is the closest match to the death mask of any painting or photograph yet presented (unless the painting is of the death mask!) The death mask obviously looks like Joseph Smith, Jun. The Moura Dag obviously looks like the death mask, therefore, the Moura Dag obviously looks like Joseph Smith, Jun. It is not impossible to say this, as I’ve already said it, therefore, have I done the impossible? Nay, but what you considered impossible is within the realm of possibility, as it has already occurred.

    At any rate, thank you all for your comments and visit.

  33. I just have to say Anarchist, you handle all this so well. I don’t take criticism well, but you do. I’m excited at the possibility this could be Joseph and I’m keeping an eye on this site. Good Luck, you’ve got me on your side!!!

  34. I have doubts that this is Joseph Smith. I just think it is unlikely that any such picture would have gone hidden off to Brazil.

    But if you have the time and means, Why not explore it. It certainly is a better candidate than that picture at the CoC HQ that was originally getting the attention.

    By the way, are you absolutely certain you are an anarchist or are you more of an iconoclast. Note that successful living in an anarchy requires guns and a great deal of intimidation over others.

  35. Wow, that actually looks like Joseph! How would I know? I don’t, really. But look at the book “In Search of Joseph,” by Shannon M. Tracy (KenningHouse, 1995), which attempts to reconstruct Joseph’s image from the death mask along with photos of JS’s skull. It’s pretty darn convincing, and the result looks strikingly like the daguerreotype presented here on this blog.

  36. As I haven’t, yet, received the promised color scan from the museum, I’ve sent off another email today. Hopefully, I’ll get a response. I’d like to be the first one to post a color scan, as there is another individual whose interest has piqued in this and who has ordered the book Retratos Quase Inocentes using the interlibrary loan program. That was a week ago and he said it takes about two weeks to get a book. I expect that once he sees the color reproduction, he’ll scan and post it. So, we’ll see who gets the first color image out there in front of the citizens of Cyberlandia.

    Heather, thanks for the support.

    Charles, yes, I am an anarchist, not an iconoclast. See the Anarchism/Anarchy category of this blog to learn more.

    Jack, I wasn’t aware that there were photographs taken of Joseph Smith’s skull. Now I’m really interested in seeing Tracy’s work.

  37. So glad to hear they finally sent you the image. Btw, after my comment here in November I also pursued it, also with no replies from the museum. I kept sending follow-ups and then, tiring of getting no reply (I am a Professor and dept chair) I finally copied about 10 people from the museum’s sponsor university, including the Provost and state Governor, and lo and behold got a reply and then the image, identical to yours. I’m not convinced it’s Joseph but of course it may very well be. Anyway, thanks for doing this for all of us and I hope it does become known as the Anarchist Daguerreotype!

  38. Have you investigated whether Joseph was in New York in 1845?

  39. Joseph died in 1844.

  40. That was my next point. If he had been in the state then, I don’t suppose he would have shown up quite as dapper on film. So I take it the likelihood of it being a picture of the prophet rests on the inaccuracy of the date associated with it?

  41. Contact John Hajicek, who holds himself out as an expert in images of Joseph Smith at

  42. Joseph Smith, thanks for the tip. I was actually already aware of John Hajicek and his fantastic collection but I’m holding off on contacting him until the museum sends me a high resolution color image of the dag. As yet, I’ve received nothing. It may be that they are still examining it in minute detail. I don’t want to bother them repeatedly, especially if they are still in the examination stage. I’ll probably call them up next week and ask them what the hold up is.

  43. Hi LDS Anarchist. What is your magnum opus argument for anarchy? Is it in one of your posts? I would like to read it and ask you some questions if you don’t mind. I didn’ t see a contact link so I thought I’d contact you here. Thanks.

  44. Joseph, there are 22 articles filed under the Anarchism/Anarchy category. Take your pick. They all give additional information why anarchy and Mormonism go hand in hand. If you want more than what I’ve written, try visiting The Mormon Worker ( and reading their Mormon anarchy articles, which are also online. My articles, though, focus mostly on what the scriptures say.

  45. At 11am Mountain time this morning on KUER Salt Lake ( – you can listen there the show is “Radio West”) the topic is the likeness of Joseph Smith. It starts in 45 minutes. I emailed them the link to this page.

  46. Dear LDS Anarchist: Could you contact me off-list please? Thanks!

  47. Jack, I’ve sent you an encrypted email. The password is:


  48. I was able to obtain a copy of the book Retratos Quaso Inocentes through Interlibrary Loan. The Joseph Smith daguerreotype is on page 187. It’s the last image in the book, and a very striking one, too. I’ve scanned in the image, but what’s really needed is a high-resolution scan from the original daguerreotype. I’m grateful to LDS Anarchist for trying to procure that image.

  49. One of the best starting places would be to actually investigate how to date early daguerreotypes. All of the comparisons to other images and death masks etc are futile, if the physical characteristics of the daguerreotype indicate that it could not have been made before 1845. Many factors enter into this determination. Plate marks and appearance, the type of mat used to protect the image, style of case,etc are just a few of the considerations. Even from a cursory viewing of your propsed image of Joseph Smith, does not have any attributes normally seen on images prior to 1845-46.
    In the field of experts capable of dating early daguerreotypes, you need to contact Dennis Waters ( He is one of the foremost collectors, dealers, and authors on early American daguerreotype. If you visit his site, you will find an excellent article on dating early dags. I would recommend this as a place to start.

  50. Ray, thanks for the tip. I am in the process of obtaining a high resolution scan of the Moura daguerreotype, which I hope to reveal very, very soon. When I do, I will be sure to contact Dennis Waters. Carlos Moura already placed the dag in question circa 1845 by consulting daguerreotype books, etc. Mr. Moura’s collection (which has been sold to the museum in Brazil) was tremendous, so I take it that his assessment of circa 1845 is probably reliable.

  51. I came across a new blog today, read every one of its posts, and now it’s got me thinking… Maybe the reason why this particular daguerreotype of Joseph Smith is coming to light at this time is so that the LDS people will be able to recognize the Prophet when he comes back again?

  52. Dear Sir;

    Wow, good job. Did you get the hig-res scan?

  53. No, I didn’t. I’ve sent several emails to them. I’m ready to send payment and fill out whatever paperwork they want, but no one has responded to me. I’ve already set up a new blog dedicated to this high res scan, too, if I ever get it…

  54. Wouldn’t it be likely that he would have had his picture taken, because he was running for office?

  55. I had not thought of that, but that makes sense. Perhaps this is a dag of Joseph that was carried or sent east by someone announcing his presidency, and was subsequently lost in New York City to be found later but not identified. Mr. Moura’s description of the dag in his book Retratos Quase Inocentes indicated (according to my memory and understanding of the Portuguese text) that Moura thought it was of some dignitary, a congressman, etc., or at least someone who thought of himself as politically important.

  56. My dad speaks portuguese fluently and would like to help in any way that he can. He also has a friend who is from Brazil that lives in our home town who is willing to use his influence to help out. Is there anything that we can do?

  57. Well, he can attempt calling or emailing the museum and finding out what exactly needs to be done to purchase a high resolution image of daguerrotype. The contact info is found above in the post. I’m ready to purchase, but they never sent me all the information needed to make a transfer, the papers necessary, the exact person to talk to, etc. That would be helpful.

  58. This certainly cements my understanding of the truth! One would consider that the local Church mission headquarters to the Museo Paulista at the Universidade de Sao Paulo would coordinate with the tours of the museum; so, to teach prospective members of the Church and newly joined members to the Church about the prophet of the Restoration of Israel. For that matter, Elder’s Quorums, Relief Societies, Young-Adult Programs, Single-Adult Programs, and other Church Auxillaries should be visiting the museum so to gain a testimony of the great truth in lights and perfection. You’ve got to “Love the Spirit!”

  59. Praisae the Lord, Jesus Christ………..Amen.

  60. It seems to me that the Museum has simply ignored you.

    Maybe they got too busy to do the work or maybe they decided to do things differently on their own.

    Or maybe they just don’t care.

    Hard to believe that though.

  61. Yeah.

  62. When was the last time you called or wrote to the Museum? When was their last response?

    If I had any other reason to go to Brazil, I would make a stop there for you.

  63. Charles, it’s been over a year now. I have not continued calling and emailing them. I figure that this blog post is adequate to get the word out to the general LDS pop. If anyone is interested, they can take up where I left off. I’ve posted the low-res scan pic on this blog, as well as the museum contact info and a link to a web site that allows you to purchase the book that shows the dag. That’s enough for me. I do not plan on investing any more time or energy into this. But thanks for the good intentions on your part, as well as the visit.

  64. I missed the link to the web site that would allow me to purchase the book that shows the dag…can you tell me what it is? Sorry to be a bit thick

  65. Brian, here is the link to purchase Retratos Quase Inocentes.

  66. […] October of 2007, another daguerreotype was widely circulated through the website LDS Anarchy (and through one of my videos). While this one certainly looks a lot like Joseph Smith, there […]

  67. Jesus Christ was crucified and every icon of him has been coveted ever since and that is not whorshipping Him in truth and spirit that is the opposite. There are icons of Joseph Smith, he was murdered and people have been looking for icons of him ever since, did you ever think that is akin to idol worship? Read D&C sec.93 and know what you worship, you worshilp the word of God , eternal principal, if Jesus Christ did not represent eternal principles would you worship him? search the scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life, and as a man thinketh so he is. How do you ever expect to be come Gods yourselves if you run around looking for icons?

  68. That’s really neat. It would be cool if it was a picture of him. What a wonderful find & a treasure to not only his posterity, but others getting the opportunity to see it as well. Hopefully you can find it again. Can you enlarge the color pic, or is that not possible?

  69. That is the size they sent it to me. I was never able to get a high res pic from them.

  70. I just read this quote:

    “If the man in that daguerrotype is not Joseph Smith, there is an amazing resemblance to what we all suppose him to look like. Show that photo to 10,000 long-time LDS, and 10,000 will say it is Joseph Smith.” Steve Pogue

    Those are my sentiments exactly. This has got me thinking… Perhaps 10,000 LDS SHOULD see this image. Perhaps I ought to include this picture in my mass mailing campaign? Perhaps, even, I ought to put it right there on the envelope?

  71. There is a principle of the amount of proof the Lord wills people to have. We see this in the conversations Moroni mentioned regarding what was included in the Book of Mormon.
    As his children in this telestial world we are prone to feel more proof is better. But the Lord really understands enough and no more.
    If making a choice to follow a precept or a prophet doesn’t require faith then it does not accomplish the goal or our progressing so we can live in the Celestial world. The truth always carries with it the witness of the spirit of Christ. This is explained by Jesus in Ether 4.
    I think what you have brought forth is enough or exactly as much as the Lord wants brought forth. For all those who would ever be willing to follow Joseph it will be enough.
    LDSA the Spirit moves me to thank you in behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ. I feel overcome with emotion to even be honored to speak in His name. But He says , “well done thou good and faithful servant.” I bear this witness in the Name of Jesus Christ.

  72. It seems to me that to obtain a highest resolution image from the original daguerrotype photograph shall take considerable money? Although, more imporatantly, it shall need the commitment from the Smith Family members of their Reorganized LDS Church, known as the Community of Christ Church. If they were interested then a union may seem probable to succeed; but, they submitted another image which may or may not have been validly produced by Mr. Lucien Foster. Then again, there may have been more than one image taken by Mr. Foster when he came to Nauvoo, IL One for the Smith Family and one for a potential presidential campaign!
    The original web site was found at
    Observe the paste below, copied from a modified web site,

    “Photograph Found A 20 Year Perspective”

    On the 27th of April, 1844, three months before the Prophet’s martyrdom, a daguerreotypist named Lucien R. Foster came to Nauvoo. He had been President of the New York Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1841 until his arrival in Nauvoo. While in New York, Brother Foster learned the art of daguerreotypy, probably from Samuel F. B. Morse, who was teaching the trade to interested people at the University of the City of New York. When Lucien Foster came to Nauvoo, he brought the necessary equipment with him to set up a daguerreotype gallery. He hoped to make use of the extreme population boom in that area, while at the same time live among the Saints. Two days after his arrival, he went to meet the Prophet Joseph and presented him with a gift. The Prophet records:

    Monday, 29. – At home; received a visit from L. R. Foster of New York, who gave me a gold pencil case, sent me by Brother Theodore Curtis, who is now in New York; and the first words I wrote with it were, “God bless the man!”

    What did these two men discuss during their interview? There can be no doubt that Joseph Smith knew Foster well. His long sojourn as Branch President of New York and his future plans to capture the life of the Mormons in photo must have been part of their conversation. Perhaps the Prophet saw the camera as a new means of spreading the Gospel. Maybe they discussed the possibly of changing the nation’s misconceptions about the Mormon community through this new medium. Who is to say? Perhaps Wadsworth stated it best: “One cannot imagine that Joseph Smith, with his active, curious mind, would not be intrigued by the new magic of daguerreotypy, and as a result be among the first in Nauvoo to pose for his likeness.”

    It has been noted that Joseph Smith did not mention sitting for a daguerreotype in his journals. On the same day as his interview with Brother Foster, the Prophet was engaged in a bitter legal battle with the same apostates who would later murder him. Besides this, there are numerous stories, incidents, and events from the life of the Prophet that are not recorded in his journals. One glaring omission is the Prophet’s interview with Martin Van Buren, President of the United States. We learn of that infamous meeting through other sources, i.e., letters, speeches etc., but strangely not from Joseph’s journals. The year 1844 also filled the Prophet’s mind with his campaign for President. The Prophet must have had a great deal of faith in Foster because he chose him to be a member of the central committee involved in his presidential nomination and the management of his national campaign. He was the youngest of the men given that honor.

    Of the various men assembled to get the Prophet elected president was W. W. Phelps. The Prophet chose Phelps’s due to his knowledge of the press and talent for writing. Why would the Prophet choose Foster? Could it be that Lucien’s photographic talent was considered in the committee’s national publicity plan? Again Wadsworth speculates:

    It is difficult to imagine Smith not inquiring about the photographer’s newly-acquired trade and how it might aid in the upcoming campaign. At the time of the political convention, Foster was probably setting up his gallery on Main Street, fitted, no doubt, with a skylight or other window light to admit illumination for portraiture. Such a portrait from life of the new candidate would be of great value in making engravings for posters, newspaper stories, and articles during the campaign… Is it not likely that during all this political furor in Nauvoo that Foster took the Mormon prophet into his newly furbished Main Street gallery and captured his likeness on one or more daguerreotype plates? The coming campaign cried for such a portrait.

  73. Pardon my omission of the chapter title which headed the paste/copy above, within the previous comment: “Daguerreotypy & Lucien Foster in Nauvoo.”

    Praise unto the Holy Ghost!

  74. Thomas, if this is, indeed, a daguerrotype of Joseph Smith, I would say that that scenario is the most probable. He must have sat with Foster in 1844, who possibly intended to use it for Joseph’s political campaign. After the martydom, it must have been brought to New York (by Foster, or sent there by another person), and was subsequently misplaced and lost until Mr. Moura acquired it at the Armory Show in 1966, taking it with him to Brazil and then selling it to the museum, which then exhibited it. They published a book of the exhibit which found its way to a fine art book dealer in America, where my eyes saw it as i worked there.

    The portuguese description in the exhibition book even seemed to indicate that the man in the image was a politician:

    The author of the book proceeded to analyze the pose, dress and face of the man and the exquisite sharpness and quality of the daguerrotype (it was the best preserved of all those in the book), plus the way it was framed, etc., and he came to the conclusion that the man must have thought he was something really special and had a commanding look about him. Perhaps he was a congressman or someone else in authority, etc.

  75. dyc4557, thank you for your kind words and testimony.

  76. Has there been any progress in this effort?
    Perhaps I have missed it, but have you mentioned the name of the book?

  77. Book found, oops.

  78. I’m not following you zdaniel. So what’s the status? Was the scan ever acquired? If not, I noticed one good brother volunteered to fly to Brazil. I’m sure somebody standing in their offices would not be ignored.

  79. […] The story of how the finder acquired this image is interesting, mentioning how the Brazilian book he found it in only said that it came out of New York in 1845. When was the last time Joseph was in New York? Why would it be in New York? The photocopy is from a book. The original daguerreotype is in the Museu Paulista – Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil). […]

  80. I am a Mormon and I feel the Spirit when I look at that image; it pierces my soul. I KNOW that this is an image of the Prophet Joseph Smith regardless of whether or not it has been corroborated by independent research. I find it interesting that the Church, which is generally not iconoclastic is not interested in finding out if this is indeed an image of Joseph Smith. Thank you for your work and keep up the great research!

  81. Why has this important discovery slipped into the past? Has everyone given up? We need to get a high resolution scan of this daguerreotype. What is currently being done about it? The only high resolution image on this post is a scan of a photo copy of the page from the obok…

  82. […] daguerreotype of a man who looked like Joseph Smith was widely circulated through the website LDS Anarchy. While this man certainly looks a lot like Joseph Smith, there is little to no research to back it […]

  83. Here’s a picture of the death mask photos and the daguerreotype side by side, for comparison. I probably ought to have put this up years ago, but better late than never…

  84. I’ve placed the side-by-side comparison image at the top of the post, along with the web site of the museum and a link to Retratos Quase Inocentes, in case anyone wants to purchase the book or contact the museum.

    Also, I believe I remember reading somewhere that Mr. Moura has passed on. According to this Wikipedia entry, he was born in 1933, but it doesn’t list his death date, so either I’m wrong on that, or that entry needs to be updated. He’d be nearing 80 years old by now if he’s still alive. R.I.P., either way, Carlos.

    Here is what he looked like in his younger years and here is what he looked like in his older years, for those who are interested in the man who found this daguerreotype. Since he purchased the dag at the Armory Show in New York City in 1966, he must have been around 33 years old at the time.

  85. For your perusal…

  86. honestly i think the one from retratos quase inocentes is the most like what i expected. the others look more like crazy people

  87. The photo appears to be a fairly early photo of Joseph Smith III to me. We have a better idea what he actually looked like. That was the way he typically groomed his hair, rather than his father’s somewhat unique grooming style. He looked more like his father when he was younger, changing more as he got older.

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s