Daguerreotype of Joseph Smith Wearing The Urim and Thummim: Caution, This Will Disturb You

By March 30, 2009

I’ve probably been one of the more positive and hopeful through this undying one-upmanship of Joseph Smith photo-finding that we’ve experienced in the last year.  With this latest edition to the fold of false Josephs, I just may be losing hope, and Ardis may just be proving prophetic yet again.

Check out this crank on Ebay.

The sheer absurdity of the idea is enough, but it gets better.  See the item description:

This photo comes from a album that had ‘Smith” ID’d photos in it…But it had other strange & curious cdv photos, like a group of 13 woman standing, seated & kneeling on the floor in front of one man? so I listed that photo and a couple of eBay members suggested it was a Mormon family…I listed a few cdv’s that, like this one looked to be copies of Daguerreotypes, they did well at auction & covered the cost of this album….But the comment about Mormons stuck, mostly because my mothers sister is on the Washington D. C. Church High Council, so I started to look into this & got the basic info of the web. I then listed a photo of a very intense old man from Vermont who was noted in the album as ‘diviner’. He had the coolest face, with a sunken 1 1/2″ triangle in his brow between his eyes, and he looked to be related to this photo, witch at the time, I beginning to believe was Joseph Smith, so I listed the old man as Joseph Smith father in a reserve auction. It got up into the low 30’s, but did not break reserve. The high bidder was a Mormon from CA and asked what I would sell it for? and I replied I would think about it, …pure eBay Blow off! : )  He then begins buying the most expensive photos from my store ($20-$45 ea)  and in 3 days racks up $500.00 +, so I gave in and sold him the photo…Now this photo I offer in this auction, gives me CHILLS when I looked at it & that ‘rod’ or ‘wand’ with its glowing orb! and that black indistinguishable ‘snake’ thing truly looks to be a “Urim and Thummim” if I ever saw one!!! So the reserve price is set on this strange, strange feature.

Secondly, all the photos in the album follow the Joseph Smith trail, some from Vermont (one is for sale right now my store, man with glasses, and I have been selling others at auction past 2 weeks) some really interesting ones from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri & Illinois…

I have studied all of the paintings drawings and ‘supposed photos’ of Joseph Smith on the web and photos of his descendants at various ages and have concluded this photograph IS HIGHLY PROBABLE (in view of all above) a photo of the Mormon founder Joseph Smith WEARING the “Urim and Thummim”!!!! (Personally, after 2 years of research, I believe it to be true, each must however decide for themselves)…I still own all of the ID photos & I do believe their is a Emma Smith, though very late in years? and I can supply copies of one’s won at auctions, ect. I also have a 1200dpi scan to send out to any who request it.

I think this speaks for itself.  It’s really sad to know that there is a Mormon out in California with more money than sense who is now the proud owner of a bunch of daguerreotypes with questionable identifications.  This probably didn’t merit its own post, but the exotic nature of this attempt and its especially absurd basis for identification merited some notice.

In other news, a friend alerted me to a recently created blog by an unnamed individual who claims to have, yes, a daguerreotype of Joseph Smith.  This one is a little different than others because the image he’s touting has been known for some time.  It’s the image from the Library of Congress that has been widely accepted as a daguerreotype of a painting of Joseph Smith.  The blogger claims that he has found in his grandmother’s possessions the original daguerreotype that the painting was based on. Apparently this individual has already talked with people at the Church History Dept. and examinations are ongoing.

And the search continues…

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. *blink*

    Good find, Jared. Or good catch. Next, I suppose, will be an ambrotype of Joseph actually sitting at the table translating the plates.

    Comment by Ben Pratt — March 31, 2009 @ 12:29 am

  2. Indeed, Ben, indeed.

    Comment by Jared T — March 31, 2009 @ 1:48 am

  3. What a fool. Anyone can see that those objects are not part of the U&T. They are, obviously, ghost orbs. Sheesh.

    Comment by SC Taysom — March 31, 2009 @ 7:22 am

  4. There was something wrong with the text of this post, so I’ve fixed it.

    Comment by Jared T — March 31, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  5. I think the status of the bidding sums it up quite well: “reserve has not been met.”

    Comment by Ben — March 31, 2009 @ 10:07 am

  6. This. Is. Awesome. This may have just replaced LDS Anarchists’ dag as my favorite JS image around.

    Comment by Christopher — March 31, 2009 @ 10:13 am

  7. “By their grammar ye shall know them.”

    Comment by kevinf — March 31, 2009 @ 1:32 pm

  8. We see a lot of this sort of thing in the antiquarian business, although seldom so outrageous. As I have commented before, if only these folks would visit the East, they would suddenly understand what vast hoards of old photographs exist here everywhere – my point being that the likelihood of any one image being whom you want it to be, is next to zero, without proper association, identification and (Ardis, this one’s for you!) provenance.

    That photograph of the youngish man seated next to all those young ladies is almost certainly a teacher and his class. It could not possibly be a Mormon polygamist, given the similar ages of all the people.

    The great Oz has spoken.

    Comment by Rick Grunder — March 31, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

  9. Hello,

    I Demand that you removed in 24 hours my copyright text on this blog. If not I will have Attn.’s serve your server a lawsuit for unfair use of my copyright text @ $50,000.00 for Punitive use of copyright materials.


    Comment by G-- — March 31, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  10. “Serve your server.” Wasn’t that a Nirvana song?

    Comment by SC Taysom — March 31, 2009 @ 5:01 pm

  11. So, #9, are you going to explain how you arrived at the conclusion that this is a photographic image of me?

    Comment by The Real Joseph — March 31, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

  12. G–, you’re gonna sue us for free advertising?? Perhaps instead you should let us in on whatever profit you make, since we probably just expanded your audience of potential buyers 10-20 fold.

    Comment by Christopher — March 31, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

  13. G–, I’m gonna sue you for a billion dollars for intimidating a scholar! Nyah! (It’s clear that G– has never been closer to the majesty of the law than a bail bondsman’s shop.)

    What a hoot! But Jared, I don’t think The Estimable G–, defendant in my billion dollar lawsuit, counts as one of the thousand dunderheads. He’s in a class (or a cell) entirely of his own.

    C’mon, G–, you fool, you tool, you jewel in the crown of dunderheadedness, show us your next treasure! You must have a working model (a *patented* working model, no doubt) of the sword of Laban! No?

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 31, 2009 @ 5:48 pm

  14. I really can’t decide which is my favorite bit of The Unique G– (defendant in the famous billion dollar lawsuit) Dunderheadedness — this:

    A unknown woman, photographed in Cleveland, OH by J. F. Ryder. She is wearing a strange cross at her waist & her hands seem to send a message

    or the image of the 40-year-old Emma Smith (it was taken 1844ish) but looking all of 14.

    Hmm, I can’t decide. G–, help me out — I value your opinion so highly — which is my favorite?

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 31, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

  15. The comments of this blog towards myself, (and others I would think is fair to guess) are a total disrespect of the Master Christ & his 2 commandments as given on the sermon of the mount.

    It’s time to for all of you to see what your really doing & up to here in this blog.


    Comment by G-- — March 31, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

  16. G– just added the following to his *copyrighted* description of the photo on ebay:

    On a side note; I have 47 old photo albums that hold my smith photos of over 400+. I just received a note on eBay of a blog treating me with much disrespect. I have asked you church to attend to the matter, but I am not going continue looking through these albums for the elderly photo of her I have today in light of this, maybe tomorrow I will resume the search, but I strongly recommend you download the photos to your computer before the continued Un-Christian abuse continues & I decide to remove the listing.

    Uh oh, he’s asked the church to take care of us.

    Comment by Christopher — March 31, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

  17. G–, here’s my advice. Lighten up. If you know anything about LDS history, and especially about the preponderance of purported Joseph Smith daguerreotypes that exist, I think you’d be a little less sure of the fact that your photo is who you think it is.

    In case you read this, I am genuinely interested in exactly who it was you contacted when you say that you’ve asked “our church to attend to the matter”?

    Comment by Christopher — March 31, 2009 @ 6:28 pm

  18. highlight of my day.

    Comment by Ben — March 31, 2009 @ 6:37 pm

  19. I’d say we were being punk’d and ask where Ashton is, but I served a mission and did a bit of random door knocking, so I know there really are people that crazy, bless their hearts.

    Comment by Owen — March 31, 2009 @ 7:04 pm

  20. He said this in his description about the so called Urim and Thummin in the portrait:

    and that black indistinguishable ‘snake’ thing truly looks to be a “Urim and Thummim” if I ever saw one

    How many has he seen? And where has he seen them? In badly exposed photographs?

    Comment by Catherine — March 31, 2009 @ 7:20 pm

  21. Good heavens, you brainy LDS historians, lay off on the poor, misguided peddler. I’m pretty sure this poor fellow has had quite enough. 🙂

    Comment by Mary-Celeste — March 31, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

  22. Aw, don’t be a dunderhead-ess, Sis. Parshall. YOU can’t be a Danite. You’re just a gurrrrl! Nyah, nyah yerself.


    Comment by Rick Grunder — March 31, 2009 @ 8:20 pm

  23. Yeah, I know. I plead temporary insanity from hyperventilation at laughing so hard when I saw his listing. But it really isn’t fair to keep poking at him when he can have no defense. I’m through.

    What do you suppose it is about all these hopelessly weird Joseph dags that triggers this reaction? I mean, people are always writing bad history and proposing wacky theories, and I seldom get the giggles from them. What is it about this particular issue?

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 31, 2009 @ 8:21 pm

  24. This might be the best thread since the “BYU Religion Made Me, Yada yada yada” from last year.

    Comment by SC Taysom — March 31, 2009 @ 8:21 pm

  25. Pffffft! Take THAT, Rick! You can’t make up your mind whether I’m a prophetess or a dunderheadess. 🙂

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 31, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

  26. On a sort of related note, I came across a French auction yesterday for three images that are advertised as a Mormon family, here. I wrote to the contact address to ask, very simply and politely, what evidence there was to suggest that these people were Mormons.

    The reply came this morning:

    Dear Sir,

    We cannot assure that, but different experts saw the daguerreotypes and they all think they are probably images of Mormons; one of the reasons could be the women headgear.

    It will be interesting for us to know your opinion.

    Don?t hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions.


    I wasn’t entirely familiar with distinctive Mormon headgear, but, hey, you learn something every day.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 31, 2009 @ 8:32 pm

  27. Ardis,

    I wore headgear everynight to bed when I was 8 to correct my overbite, but other than my wearing it roughly coinciding with the year I was baptized, I don’t think there was anything uniquely Mormon about it.

    Comment by Christopher — March 31, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

  28. Oh yeah, and I’m not a woman. Of course, you’re not a “sir,” either.

    Comment by Christopher — March 31, 2009 @ 8:37 pm

  29. I stand (er, sit) appropriately chastised, o Prophetess P. You said this would happen, and you were so right.

    Since I take it for granted that grad students don’t have thousands of $$$ to fling to the Eastern winds, I don’t expect that anyone will think me self-serving or trying to promote any sale – if I share, for the sheer joy of it, an actual legitimate Smith family photo which I did buy on eBay a few years ago . . .

    David Hyrum Smith photograph

    Comment by Rick Grunder — March 31, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  30. Outstanding picture and description, Rick. I’ve always loved your catalog entries and your generous sharing of images that most of us will never see as originals.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — March 31, 2009 @ 9:01 pm

  31. Come out anytime, Ardis, and we’ll do the historical sites and look at old pictures together. The guest room is still here – if you don’t mind a hide-a-bed surrounded by tons of old Mormon reference books . . .

    Comment by Rick Grunder — March 31, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  32. But Rick, are you sure us Westerners could handle seeing all those old daguerreotypes growing on trees over there as they do? 🙂

    Comment by Jared T — March 31, 2009 @ 9:14 pm

  33. Indeed, Jared (#34), moderation is advised while the Daguelillies are in bloom. It’s like rich food. I suggest only one dag before breakfast for the first two weeks, perhaps another just before dinner; but no more until your system becomes fortified against the excitement.

    When I was a kid (on the dairy farm in Boise, Idaho), it occurred to me suddenly one day that maybe there were old books which a person could have. So I went to the Boise Book Shop on Main St., and came home with an acidic-page, yellowing novel from the mid-second half of the nineteenth century called The Frozen Pirate. It has to start somewhere, eh?

    Does anyone out there in Mormonland have a *real* daguerreotype of the Nauvoo Temple kicking around in the bureau drawer? I think it would pay for a top-notch college education or two, at least.

    Comment by Rick Grunder — March 31, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

  34. Well, Mr. So and So just took the listing down, so I hope you got to save a copy of the page while you could.

    That was quite an adventure, thanks JI.

    Comment by Overtherainbow — April 1, 2009 @ 1:15 am

  35. I have asked you church to attend to the matter

    Maybe there are Danites still today? Watch out, Jared (and J, the owner of the server).

    Comment by David G. — April 1, 2009 @ 6:00 am

  36. That’s too bad. I’m the one who had a bid in for $9.32 — I wanted to present the CDV to Jared as a souvenir of good times.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — April 1, 2009 @ 7:13 am

  37. All right, I think this has played out well enough.

    The moral of the story is, you can’t always help what someone puts up on ebay, but you sure as hell can consider the logic of what is being claimed and avoid draining money into sketchy items.

    Comments, closed.

    Comment by Jared T — April 1, 2009 @ 8:37 am


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