Fine Books: Photography’s Gilded Age

In the Summer 2020 issue of Fine Books magazine, I have a story on daguerreotypes from the Gold Rush:

The 1848 discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill—a sawmill in Coloma, California—inspired thousands of people to uproot their lives and travel west to seek their fortunes. They arrived from across the country and abroad, from Chile, Mexico, France, China, and Australia. They believed they were part of something exceptional and many posed for portraits in the new medium of photography to commemorate this moment. These images are a contrast to the refined dress and gentility usually seen in 19th-century daguerreotypes. The miners had unruly beards, wore tattered work shirts, and proudly displayed their pickaxes; the lucky ones showed off gold nuggets and flakes, which were sometimes hand-gilded on the photographic plates to add a visual dazzle representing their success.

The story is only in print and you can pick up a copy through the Fine Books site.