Daguerreotype of Philadelphia Central High School, September 25, 1839.
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A blurry photograph of the Philadelphia Central High school.

Credit: Courtesy: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Only months after Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre made public his invention of a photochemical process for capturing images on silver plates, several Philadelphians set out to replicate Daguerre’s process. On September 25, 1839, Joseph Saxton, a mechanic and instrument maker at the United States Mint, created this daguerreotype of Philadelphia’s Central High School with a camera made from a magnifying glass and a cigar box. This image is believed to be the nation's oldest surviving daguerreotype.

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