Phineas Gage compared
Phineas Gage - further findings, evidents, challenges and opinions



Reply from Beverly Wilgus, Baltimore (MD), January 12, 2010:
The owner of the daguerreotype believed to be the only known image of Gage

“I do not think it is Gage. If the date is correct it would have been taken after the accident and there is no sign of a scar on his forehead and his hair does not show the "comb over" effect of our Gage portrait."

"Meet Phineas Gage"



Reply from Prof. Malcolm Macmillan, D.Sc.FASSA FAPS, January 12, 2010:
One of the leading experts on Phineas Gage

“I do not think there is enough similarity in the shape of the face, the nose, the mouth, and the hair for it to be Phineas.  As to whether your image is of a 'younger' Phineas, all is to go on is the part closure of the left eye and I don't know if the date of its full closure can be established.”

Prof. Malcolm Macmillan, D.Sc. FASSA FAPS,
Psychological Sciences,
University of Melbourne,
Victoria 3010 Australia.

Phineas Gage Information Page



Reply from Matthew L. Lena, Boston (MA) referring to figure B, January 14, 2010:
One of the leading experts on Phineas Gage

"[...] this object is a daguerreotype, and daguerreotypes are laterally (left-right) reversed. So while it seems at first that the subject's left eye is drooping, in fact it is the right eye that is affected.  And unfortunately "the right eye is the wrong eye" i.e. Gage's injuries were on his left, so this cannot possibly be a portrait of him."

Response and contra thesis: Considered that daguerreotypists sometimes interposed a reversing prism or mirror between the sitter and the lens to correct the reversed image, we never will have the absolute certainty, if fig. B has been corrected with the result that in fact it is the left eye that is affected.



Reply from Diane Filippi, Office Manager, The Daguerreian Society, December 21, 2009:

"The picture show much resemblance to Phineas Gage.  It certainly is uncanny.  It will be interesting to receive some feedback on this."

Reply from D. Orendi, picture editorship, Random House group of publishing houses Munich, May 2012:

"Thus, in my opinion, in the two pictures are represented tow different persons. Mouth, nose and brows are completely different. That cannot be the same person."



Paul Whippey on January 29, 2010, discovered a very important detail:

"It occurred to me that the lack of a "comb over" hairstyle in the daguerreotype [B] shows what looks like a defined line of missing hair on the upper right of his forehead. From your overlays, this feature seems to line up with the scar in the older portrait [A]. I'm sure this is another portrait of Gage. Its good work!"


The scar matches up in the two portraits (click to enlarge)forehead scar on life mask (photo by Dr. Anthony A. Walsh) (click to enlarge)



Reply from Prof. Dr. med. Dr. med. dent. Andreas Neff, February 9, 2010 (abstract translation):
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University Hospital Giessen and Marburg, Location Marburg

"Your hypothesis concerning the midface shortening is highly interesting and enticing and could in principle apply absolutely to your case, if there would not exist the skull of  Phineas which permits well to reconstruct the fracture mechanism [...]. On the available photographs I cannot recognize that the nose skeleton was included into the fracture range, at least not in the extent, which would be necessary to cause a so-called “Dish face” and a substantial loss of the outlines of the nose area, a factor that would make plausible the changes in the further healing process [...]."

However, the projections are not shot in the same angle. On the life mask in side view is noticeable that Mr. Gage had a clearly longer nose, than the strictly frontal exposure [on fig. A] let's suppose. In so far I would not reject your beautiful hypothesis please yet! On the 1850 life mask there is definitely no (posttraumatic) saddle nose visible (which confirms my guess about the non-inclusion of the nose into trauma), on the other hand there is by no means a small "snub-nose", as suggested by the Wilgus' photograph (mind in strict en face exposure).

Read two letters from Prof. Dr. med. Andreas Neff

February 17, 2010: Looks like the "smoking gun
" has arrived:
The second known photograph of Gage has been identified!

Prof. Andreas Neff was right:

[...] "the projections are not shot in the same angle and on the life mask in side view is noticeable that Mr. Gage had a clearly longer nose, than the strictly frontal exposure [on fig. A] let's suppose".

He confirmed my objection
"different lighting angles have produced different aspects". On this second known picture of P.G., purely optically seen, the small snub-nose has become quite longer. Nevertheless - I have to admit - the resemblance with Bell's portrait has diminished.

July 30, 2009 Phanx wrote on a weblog: "If there was a good picture of Gage in existence - and this looks like a celebrity picture, designed for wide distribution - it's surprising it never came up before. The people who 'found' it (where exactly?) are in the business of selling images.

Visit the "Meet Phineas Gage Shop" on CafePress for prints and buttons based on the Phineas Gage Daguerreotype.

Indeed, it is surprising that for 150 years no researcher succeeded in finding a photograph of this famous case (from the very first). Then, within less than a year, even two portraits have been miraculously uncovered. Gage's family descendants of course knew his story. In February 2010, Phyllis Gage Hartley (84, of Maplewood, New Jersey), a relative of Phineas Gage, wrote: "I grew up with the Phineas story." - Why should they have omitted to publish the long-awaited pictures?

Cabinet-card portrait From the Gage family of Texas photo collection (click to enlarge)Phineas Gage compared (click to enlarge)
Left: Cabinet-card portrait from the Gage family of Texas photo collection (19th-century photographic reproduction)
"This new image depicts the same subject as the daguerreotype identified in 2009, according to Gage researchers consulted by the Smithsonian Institution." (Wikipedia)

Lena & Macmillan (2010): "The image seen here is in the possession of Tara Gage Miller of Texas; an identical image is in the possession of Phyllis Gage Hartley of New Jersey. Unlike the Wilgus portrait, which is an original daguerreotype, the Miller-Hartley photos are 19th-century photographic reproductions of a single original, the original having been a daguerreotype or other laterally (left-right) reversing early-process photograph. (A second, compensating reversal has been applied here to show Gage as he appeared in life.) Gage's collar and tie are different in the Miller-Hartley image than in the Wilgus image (though he is wearing the same waistcoat); differences in clothing and photographic technique suggest the portraits were taken at different times and likely by different photographers."

Christopher Reeve
Uncanny partial similarity to the actor Christopher Reeve in his prime, minus an eye
Portraits compared with life mask (click to enlarge)
The chin and nose area on the left photograph looks more similar to the life mask (click to enhance)

Your opinion is important.

Please e-mail to Roberto Casagrande, Lugano (Switzerland)


See also my unique American daguerreotype

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This site was created
on January 13, 2010 and last updated on May 18, 2012

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