Count John Quincy Adams among those who could be grumpy about having their picture taken.
In August 1843, the former president, then 76, sat for a photographer during a visit to upstate New York and pronounced the results “all hideous.” Unfortunately for him, a daguerreotype from that sitting surfaced at an antiques shop in 1970, priced at 50 cents, and currently sits in the National Portrait Gallery, where it laid claim to being the oldest surviving original photograph of an American president.
But now, an older — and more flattering — daguerreotype of Adams, America’s sixth president, has surfaced, and will be sold at auction at Sotheby’s in October.
The daguerreotype, which carries an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000, was taken in a Washington portrait studio in March 1843, when Adams was in the middle of his post-presidential career in Congress. He gave it as a gift to a fellow representative, whose descendants kept it in the family while apparently losing track of its significance.