Add this to the list of “Things I wish I knew the location of today”:
I bought this circa 1961 image from the archives of the Baltimore Sun. It shows what appears to be an original daguerreotype or ambrotype of Mary Surratt. I’m guessing the photographer did not bring his equipment for this photo shoot since the image is being held up on a stand made out of a roll of tape and tacks. Unfortunately, there is no notation on the back to explain exactly when, where, and by whom the image was taken. Nevertheless, here is a close up of the seemingly original photograph of Mary Surratt:
There are only two known images of Mary Surratt (aside from her pictures on the gallows). The above picture represents the earlier of the two known images. This image was taken of Mary when she was probably in her late twenties or early thirties.
The other known image of Mary is described as Mary’s “fair, fat and forty” photo. The description was a quote from the New York Times in which the author covering the trial of the conspirators compared Mary to the Shakespeare character of Falstaff. In Shakespeare’s play, “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” the fat character of Falstaff is forced to disguise himself as a woman to avoid a confrontation with the husband of a woman he is trying to court. The ladies and servants pretend that Falstaff is the obese aunt of one of the maidens. The comparison made by the New York Times regarding Mary, therefore, is not a kind one. Nevertheless this picture was probably taken when Mary was around 40 years old.
I’d truly love to know where the original, earlier photograph is today. While we have modern images based on that one, over the years Mary has been “airbrushed” somewhat. The finer details of her face have been lost due to repeated duplication.
Granted these “airbrushed” photos make her appear prettier, but it doesn’t give a completely accurate view of her features.
For more images of Mary Surratt, visit the Mary Surratt Picture Gallery.