Meet Phineas Gage... Or how flickr changed our life *New photograph of Gage published!
*Another photograph of Phineas! February, 2010 - Our boy is back in the news! In July 2009, soon after we announced our identification of the daguerreotype of Phineas we learned that a descendant of Gage had a different image of him that had come down in her family. We were able to visit her in Texas and study her photograph. We felt that it was at least two generations removed from a daguerreotype portrait of Gage. It appeared to be a later copy of an earlier cabinet card copy of a daguerreotype. Since then she has been given the actual cabinet card which we hope to see soon. After our image was featured in the September Smithsonian Magazine they were contacted by a woman who is descended from a different branch of the Gage family. She also has the same original cabinet card. Although Gage wears the same waistcoat, other details in the photograph are different. We think it was made at a different time and likely by a different photographer. The photograph is reproduced in the letters section of the March issue of the Smithsonian Magazine but is not reproduced on the web site. It has been posted on the Phineas Gage page on Wikipedia. We will soon post a page on our web site Meet Phineas Gage to celebrate the discovery.
December 2009 - The January issue of the Smithsonian Magazine has an article on our Gage daguerreotype.
We have had requests for prints of the Gage daguerreotype from teachers and history buffs. We are not able to answer all the requests so we have launched the "Meet Phinias Gage Shop" on CafePress with prints, buttons, post cards, and a magnet of the Gage daguerreotype.
Thank you, Michael Spurlock for looking at an image that has been looked at by many, many people and seeing the possibilities that no one else saw! Thank you also for the comment you posted in December, 2008. It continues to be an exciting journey.
* Note that I have added a statement at the end of this description about usage.
The daguerreotype above is making a return visit to flickr after an absence of more than six months. It was first posted in December 2007 when I was a new flickr user. The title then was "Daguerreotype - One Eyed Man with Harpoon" which was what we thought it was when we acquired it over 30 years ago. There was some discussion with members of the Whaling group about the identification of the rod he is holding. It was decided that it was not likely a harpoon. What was it?
In December 2008 there was a post that sent us off in a new direction. A flickr member posted a comment "maybe you found a photo of Phineas Gage? If so, it would be the only one known." A quick Google introduced us to the bizarre life of Phineas Gage and we were hooked.
Over the last six months we have read, researched, made road trips, and contacts we never dreamed of. We have been to the Warren Anatomical Museum at the Harvard Medical School in Boston to see Gage's life mask, skull, and tamping iron. We have been to Cavendish, VT where Gage met with his fateful accident. We have corresponded and collaborated with the world's leading authority on Gage. Amazingly we have also written an article that will be published in the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences in August, 2009. We also have posted a web site Meet Phineas Gage.
If you do not know the story of Gage, his accident, and his place in medical history, we suggest to Google his name or check out the links page on our site.
We are amazed at the ability of the internet to share information. If we had not posted this image on flickr for a sharp eyed member to see, we would still be calling this "The Whaler" holding a harpoon. Thanks to flickr and to Michael Spurlock.
For several years we have had an informal business supplying images in our collection to publishers, film, and television producers for a modest fee. We often grant permission for educational and non-profit usage asking only for a credit line and, perhaps, a copy of the publication if it interests us. Check out our web page called "The Past Tense of Picture".