Levi Strauss Daguerreotype

© Albert Kaplan 2011

Focusing on the ear in the third known image of Levi Strauss, one will see a pronounced Antihelix, which is further emphasized by a deep Fossa Triangularis.

Regrettably, the lighting and focus of the daguerreotype is poor; consequently, his eyebrows are faint, and the Pinna lacks contrast. Nevertheless, one can see, on the prints, a faint outline of a prominent Antihelix. It is more evident on the plate.

If the Levi Strauss Company or relatives of Levi Strauss, or any interested forensic scientist may wish to examine the daguerreotype, I will be pleased to take them to my bank, and to the vault in which it is kept.

We do not see an Irishman or a Mexican, or an Indian chief. We see a richly attired, plump, German Jewish merchant.

It seems to me that this is one of those rare instances, during the course of trying to identify illustrious 19th Century personalities from sparse points of reference, whereby the analyst considers the query, “If this is not Levi Strauss, who else could it be?”

Kaplan Collection Known Images

Levi Strauss’s Ear

Kaplan Collection Known Image


Post-Script Thoughts–October 28, 2017


Levi Strauss

The Levi Strauss daguerreotype is, I understand, the only known original photographic image of this gentleman, all others destroyed in the great San Francisco earthquake. Regrettably, it is poorly made. Here was a truly great subject deserving of a great daguerriean. Alas, the daguerreian was lacking.

Levi Strauss was not a military commander, nor a great scientist, or political leader. He was merely a merchant. And yet, when the news of his death reached the multitude of American working men, there was a pause, and silent tribute. It was as though a friend had died.

Today, Levi’s are ubiquitous not merely in the United States, but globally.

Surely his legacy has staying power, and I am now thinking that long into the future Levis will be with us.

Here we see him, Levi Strauss.