Daguerre Medal: Souvenir of the Semi-Centennial of Photography

ArtistC.L. Chapelle

CountryUnited States


EphemeraAdvertising Matter



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Advertising, Medals, Men of Mark, Photography


Support Dimensions: recto (left) and verso (right): diameter: 4.8 cm

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Photography by Frenchman Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre in 1889, this medal of the French inventor was engraved by C.L. Chapelle and cast and distributed by the American photographic journal The Photographic Times as a souvenir. It was distributed during the Tenth Annual Convention of the Photographer’s Association of America held at Mechanic’s Hall in Boston, MA from August 6-10, 1889.


Under Convention Notes, the following appeared in The Photographic Times and American Photographer for the August 16, 1889 issue:

Did you get the Daguerre Medal as a souvenir of the Semi-Centennial of Photography, which was presented by The Photographic Times?  It seemed to be the most highly prized souvenir at the Convention. The head of Daguerre-after an original Daguerreotype of the great inventor, in excellent relief, was praised on all sides. It was a bronze medal of the size of our cut, with lettering and design as shown in it.  (1.)


Philadelphia’s American Journal of Photography commented on the medal as well:


The visitors at the Tenth Convention at Boston who failed to receive the beautiful Daguerre medal distributed so freely by the Photographic Times of New York City certainly missed the choicest souvenir given by anyone.
It is a large bronze medal, executed in a most excellent manner, showing on one side a head of Daquerre in bold relief, and on the reverse the inscription, “Souvenir of the Semi-Centennial of Photography, August, 1889.” 


Weighing 41.1 grams, the medal includes the following engraved on recto: Presented by The Photographic Times N-Y. as well as the dates 1839 and 1889 on either side of a nicely done bust of Daguerre. A hole was typically punched (as it was for this example) at the noon position in order for the recipient to be able to string a chain through it for display. The medal verso includes the following engraving: Souvenir of the Semi Centennial of Photography August 1889

Condition: believed to be original patina but with abrasions and wear to both sides and Daquerre bust. Another online reference to this rare medal indicates it is made from a white metal, with the medal signed C.L. CHAPPELLE SC at truncation of bust. SC may indicate Chappelle was employed as an engraver/artisan with the parent company of the Photographic Times, the Scovill Manufacturing Company.

1. p. 309: halftone facsimile of front and back of medal included with notice.
2. American Journal of Photography: Philadelphia: August, 1889: p. 293-94

Daguerre Medal: Souvenir of the Semi-Centennial of Photography