Rare portrait of Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins found in the Archives at the Perkins School for the Blind- now restored

Thomas Handasyd Perkins, circa 1850. Seated profile portrait in black and white. Image courtesy of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

Thomas Handasyd Perkins, circa 1850. Seated profile portrait in black and white. Image courtesy of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

October 31, 2014

This rare portrait of Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins (1764-1854), was recently uncovered in the Perkins Archives. Col. Perkins was a notable Boston Brahmin, China Trade merchant, and member of the first board of trustees of the New England Institution for the Education of the Blind (now Perkins). By 1833 the school had moved into Col. Perkins' mansion on Pearl Street in downtown Boston. In 1839 Perkins allowed the school to sell his home in order to purchase the former Mt. Washington Hotel in South Boston. In honor of this generosity the School was renamed.

Cased daguerreotype of Thomas Handasyd Perkins hinged in center and held in hands for scale. Case lined with red velvet. Open, the case measures 6 x 10 inches.

Cased daguerreotype of Thomas Handasyd Perkins hinged in center and held in hands for scale. Case lined with red velvet. Open, the case measures 6 x 10 inches.

The daguerreotype plate, covered by glass, is cased in leather with a brass mat, glazing, and a red velvet cushion lining the inside cover. It measures about 6 x 5 inches. In October, 2014 the object was sent to the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) for treatment. The daguerreotype was given a bath, alcohol rinse, and fitted with new glass.

Before and after images are displayed below. The before image sports an array of spots that were identified as "weeping deterioration" on the glass. In the after image, more detail in the hair and face is visible in addition to an outline of Perkins' torso and clothes that were almost entirely obscured beforehand.

Cased daguerreotype of Thomas Handasyd Perkins, circa 1850, before conservation treatment. Image courtesy of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

Cased daguerreotype of Thomas Handasyd Perkins, circa 1850, before conservation treatment. Image courtesy of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

Cased daguerreotype of Thomas Handasyd Perkins, circa 1850, after conservation treatment. Image courtesy of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

Cased daguerreotype of Thomas Handasyd Perkins, circa 1850, after conservation treatment. Image courtesy of the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).