Joseph Saxton

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Joseph Saxton (ca. 1850)
An 1839 daguerreotype of Central High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania taken by Joseph Saxton is alleged to be the oldest photograph taken in the U.S.

Joseph Saxton (March 22, 1799 – October 26, 1873) was an American inventor, watchmaker, machinist, and photographer from Pennsylvania. Saxton is considered to be the first known American photographer for allegedly taking the oldest known photograph in the U.S.

Early life[edit]

Joseph Saxton was born in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.



Joseph Saxton went to Philadelphia in 1817 and while there invented a machine for cutting the teeth of marine chronometer wheels, and an escapement and compensating pendulum for clocks, and constructed a clock for the steeple of Independence Hall. In 1839, Saxton was alleged to have taken the first daguerreotype in America making it to be the oldest known photograph taken in the U.S. Robert Cornelius designed the photographic plate of the image.


Joseph Saxton went to London, England in 1828 and resided there nine years, enjoying the acquaintance of Faraday. On his return to Philadelphia he superintended the making of machinery for the United States Mint and afterward had charge of the construction of standard weights and measures, accurate sets of which were furnished to national and State governments. Among his ingenious contrivances may be mentioned a mirror comparator for comparing standards of length and a new form of dividing engine; a self-registering tide gauge, and an immersed hydrometer.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Joseph Saxton Papers from the Smithsonian Institution Archives
  • Portrait of Joseph Saxton from the Lick Observatory Records Digital Archive, UC Santa Cruz Library's Digital Collections
  • Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
Government offices
Preceded by
Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler
Superintendent of Weights and Measures
Succeeded by