Meet Phineas Gage... Or how flickr changed our life *New photograph of Gage published!

    Newer Older

    *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".

    josefnovak33, rachael8amen, and 191 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 20 more comments

    1. ICK9S [M. H. Stephens] 52 months ago | reply

      What an amazing find! I had read his amazing story many years ago. I recently heard of your shot via NPR. Thanks for sharing this great history!

    2. mcclouds 52 months ago | reply

      So interesting!

    3. .Dali. 52 months ago | reply

      I also read of your story and the daguerreotype on NPR this morning. Congratulations on your historic find and thank you for sharing it with the world.

    4. RCKM ©®™ 52 months ago | reply

      Saw your story on AOL news .. Congrats on being part of history .. I know you have to be so happy!!|htmlws-main-n|dl7|link6|

    5. ogal 52 months ago | reply

      Too bad your historical image can't be viewed large… such a waste to come all the way over here for a thumbnail size pic… let all know when we can see this LARGE

    6. xopherlance 52 months ago | reply

      Heard about this photo on KCRW yesterday and had to come check it out for myself! A great story of using the hive mind to solve a mystery.

    7. Libby Hall Dog Photo 52 months ago | reply

      It was because of this marvellous photograph that I discovered this equally marvellous collection on Flickr. The wonders of the Internet! Congratulations.

    8. sbraffes 52 months ago | reply

      In Rembrance of Things Past;( M Proust)- you have jogged
      my memory back to Queens College in 1964 when I took
      Psychology 101 (I read about Phoneas yhen) , which led to Psych 102 etc- then a career in School Pschology- However, now, even more than 150 years later the field of , physiological psychology/ neurology is still in its infancy-and diseases like autism, schizophrenia are not fully understood- if I had only remembered Psych 101 in 1964, I could have won the Lowe Pro camera bag-then again i never asked out the prettty Spanish girl sitting next to me in Psych 101- who got a PHD from Columbia) and lives in Weschester in a big house- anywayt , found this dialogue fascinating- use the camera bag in good health, and congratulations - I saw so many strange stories as a clinician that , I still write stories about them in retirement- and take street photos= PS, I already have a Lowe Pro camera bag anyway

    9. Mr.FoxTalbot 51 months ago | reply

      My most sincere compliments.
      I went to wikipedia to dinf out more about this guy and your photo is on the article!

    10. Photo_History - Here but not Happy 51 months ago | reply

      Thanks, Sandr.. It has been a very interesting voyage of discovery and it does not seem to be over yet.

    11. Robert Szabo 50 months ago | reply

      Great stuff here! Thanks for posting some amazing images,

    12. judyofthewoods 49 months ago | reply

      I wonder if this image could be Phineas Gage as well? There are some similarities apart from the eye.

    13. gardenwife 48 months ago | reply

      I just read the Smithsonian article in a back issue my mom had at her house. When I read you'd posted the image to Flickr, my curiosity was piqued! What a wonderful thing the internet is, yes? I enjoyed reading his story and putting a face with it.

    14. jack_mord 41 months ago | reply

      Hello! Do you know of any other tamping iron accidents like what happened to Gage? Look at this photo on my Flickr album:

    15. Janebirkin-oui! 38 months ago | reply

      Absolutely amazing story and an impotant find -both medically and historically! Realy well done indeed! There may well be more photos, paperwork etc out there in relation to this heroic man's unique horrifying story. I remember reading about this gentleman in a modern book back in the mid 1980's that refered to ''strange people'' and I believe it mentioned the account (incorrectly) that when the iron pike penetrated his head, he was knocked unconscious; only to re-awaken with the heavy rod still embedded in his head (rather than being thrown some distance away)! Incredibly, he was then able to pick himself up and stagger over to his work mates to help raise the alarm....

      I understand that although scientists and neurologists have indicated that his personality had changed due to the damaged part of his left lobe, clearly Phineaus Gage was an intelligent, well balanced, responsible young man and his self awareness of his own shocking predicament, must have contributed to his own, on-going psychological stress and emotional break down etc. As the years went by, it is thought he eventually grew accustomed to his ailment and status although sadly epilepsy got the better of him.

      I hope you would agree, that perhaps a film director/producer can turn this man's unique, factual story into a serious future Hollywood film! PCT.

    16. Photo_History - Here but not Happy 38 months ago | reply

      Janbirkin..., We think it is pretty special. As I state in an addendum another photograph (a later copy not the original daguerreotype) has been identified. There may well be others and we would be delighted to have them published. While we will never be experts on the science of brain injury, we have read a great deal on the subject. We also have had ongoing contact with some of the leading experts on Gage. We have come to believe that Malcolm Macmillan's theory that Gage made a social recovery.

    17. Janebirkin-oui! 38 months ago | reply

      Hi! Many thanks for your reply. I have a had a quick read and glance at Professor Malcolm Macmillans website on Phineaus Gage and I agree that Gage must have made some kind of social recovery and function, as the years went by after the injury. For my part, I am not associated with the field of medicine, but I believe generally people with severe injuries, such as poor Gage's, are still aware of themselves as an individual -whilst having been brain damaged- and as a consequence, are very vulnerable; and so need the love of family, friends and the community etc to help them slowly recover.

    18. sues passion 30 months ago | reply

      Great stuff
      I read an article in an American magazine at my dentist office
      and recognized the man right away
      In a psychology class that i had taken in school, the teacher showed us a film
      about him and the amazing event
      fascinating the human mind

    19. whymcycles 5 months ago | reply

      I drove to Cavendish, and hiked to the approximate site of Gage's accident..lot's of loose railroad spikes were about, so I have a reminder of his amazing moment in history...
      the other photo is in this article

    keyboard shortcuts: previous photo next photo L view in light box F favorite < scroll film strip left > scroll film strip right ? show all shortcuts