Portrait of a Boy with Gold-Mining Toys
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James May Ford
American, California, 1854
Hand-colored daguerreotype
4 11/16 x 3 1/2 in.

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This sweet-faced little boy, barely higher than the table he rests on, gazes at the camera. Families who had relocated to California during the Gold Rush often commissioned photographic portraits like this one to send to relatives back home. The photographer and the boy's family sought to capture the flavor of life in the West by showing the diminutive boy dressed in a Western outfit of loose, open blouse and boots. In front of him on the hexagon-patterned carpet, a pile of wooden toys represents tools of the '49ers: pick, shovel, wheelbarrow, and rifle.