James Smithson Carte de Visite, London, England, ca. 1826

The National Institute for the Promotion of Science acquired James Smithson’s personal effects, displaying them in the National Gallery of the Patent Office beginning in 1842. There, John Varden, the collection’s keeper, apparently helped himself to a supply of Smithson’s calling cards. Varden gave this one to Caleb Bentley, a Quaker silversmith, shopkeeper, and postmaster of Brookeville, Maryland—and a contributor to Varden’s Washington Museum. Varden’s gift to Bentley went unrecorded until 1892, when the card came back to the Smithsonian with an inscription that noted its diversion.
Bequest of James Smithson, 1829
Object Name
calling card
date made
ca 1826
associated person
Smithson, James
overall: 3 1/8 in x 1 in; 7.9375 cm x 2.54 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Government, Politics, and Reform
Souvenir Nation
See more items in
Political History: Political History, General History Collection
Souvenir Nation
Souvenir Nation
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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