David C. Collins

(1825 - 1909) American


David C. Collins and his brother Thomas P. Collins both worked as daguerreotypists and photographers. At times they operated a studio together in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but they often worked independently or with other partners. Well known for their work, the Collins brothers received many honors (including two silver medals) and photographed celebrity clients on occasion, including politician Lewis Cass and actor Edwin Forrest. Together, the Collins brothers produced a total of about 33,000 daguerreotype images. David is credited with making the first daguerreotype of a dog, dated 1842, now in the collection of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
David and Thomas were the sons of Cynthia Painter Collins (1791-1880) and Simeon Collins (1786-1866). Daguerreotype collector and scholar Rebecca Norris describes the Collins family as "a socially conscious and politically progressive 19th century family, active in both the abolitionist and women's rights movements" (Daguerreian Annual, 2006).
David suffered from mysterious health conditions that surfaced in July 1847, which led him to Virginia's Winchester Medical College in 1848 to seek a cure. It is possible that he received some medical training during his career. After his brother Thomas left Philadelphia, David maintained their daguerreotype studio but sought to make a distinction from his work with that of his brother. From October 22, 1849 to March 23, 1854, the Collins & Co studio took a total number of 14,411 photographs.
David married Theresa Oggelsby in 1856, and they had two children, William R. and Annie Teresa. After the birth of William, the family left Philadelphia for West Haven, Connecticut. David began producing ambrotypes after the move.
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