The Museum Collection

Photograph of Ruined Traylor Daguerreotype of Poe

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Creator: W.W. Foster after Daguerreotype by William Pratt
Date: Before 1935
Format: Photograph
Dimensions: 5.5" x 4" image (8.75" x 6.5" overall)
Source: Gift of Mary G. Traylor
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Place of Publication:
Publish Date:


This is a copy of the last known photograph taken of Poe, the lost "Traylor" daguerreotype taken by William Abbott Pratt in Richmond in September 1849 at the same sitting as the well-known "Thompson" daguerreotype. Comparison of the two daguerreotypes reveals that, between the taking of the "Thompson" and the "Traylor," Poe tucked in his shirt, straightened his vest, and brushed the hair from his forehead, given him a neater appearance than in the first image.

Poe's last fiancee, Elmira Royster Shelton, acquired the original daguerreotype from Pratt, and Poe collector Robert Lee Traylor acquired it from her descendants. The plate was ruined in 1894 when he loaned it to the publishers Stone and Kimball for reproduction. A photograph of the ruined plate was published in The Independent in 1904. The whereabouts of the plate after Traylor's death in 1907 are unknown. His daughter, Mary Traylor, donated this photograph of the daguerreotype, produced by Richmond photographer W.W. Foster (1876-1935), to the Poe Museum.