Is this David Denny?

(Click and click again to enlarge photo)

Dick Falkenbury, with portrait of what could be David Denny. (Clay Eals)
Seeking your help with a puzzling portrait
 By Clay Eals

Recently I met with Bremerton resident Dick Falkenbury, an activist and former cabbie who is best known for leading the failed Monorail campaign in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

He gave me a portrait that he picked up for $20 at a thrift store, and he thinks it might be of famous founder David Denny. It sits very loosely in a frame, as can be seen in the accompanying photo.

Dick merely wants me to find a good home for it. But he also is curious if there is a way to verify that it is of David Denny. All available photos of Denny show him with some form of facial hair, and this portrait does not. I’ve checked with experts at, the Museum of History & Industry and the Washington State Historical Society but found no definitive answers.

So to our blog audience, two questions:

  • Do you think it’s David Denny?
  • Where might be the best home for this?

If you have information or insights, please email me. Thanks!



3 thoughts on “Is this David Denny?”

  1. If it is David Denny, it belongs in the Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s Log House Museum in West Seattle.

  2. When I was studying historical aesthetics at the Fairhaven College of Applied Arts in the last century, I leaerned of a number of lost imaging arts, such as copying daguerrotypes with a “solar projector” which enlarged small images onto mounted surfaces whereupon crayons or tinting oils were used to “flesh out” the new image. Rather like a magic lantern, or what we used to call “overhead projectors” I have a couple of these reimagings of family members in my own collection, and the brittleness of the substrate is common. Highly likely that local Seattle studios concocted these things – few in 1903 Seattle could afford a color Autochrome. If it’s David Thomas Denny ((1832-1903) I would think it made when he was a very young man in Knox County Illinois before he set out for the West, age 19, son of a politician and appropriately spiffed up in period cravat and suit. His head does resemble a later portrait of him (with wife and child) with a underchin beard but unruly hair and eyebrows. So maybe, but one wonders how it washed up in Dick’s hands. I suspect that a Denny family descendant’s estate sale might have set this loose on the salt chuck. Good score, Dick! Yes, SWSHSLHM would be best location.

  3. From the pictures I have seen of David Denny, I think it’s highly unlikely. It looks to me like a drawing done from a photograph (fairly common back then–our family has a few in that style) and if so, it’s not a close likeness to Denny. Sadly, it doesn’t appear to have any provenance so unless better evidence shows up, I would suggest seeing if West Seattle Museum wants it or MOHAI.

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