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Joseph'S Retreating Forehead

What a "Retreating Forehead" Really Is

Benjamin Winchester, Salt Lake Tribune, 9/22/1889:

"His [Joseph's] pictures, which I see in windows and cabinets here [in Utah], flatter him very much. The photographs do not show the peculiar shape of his head, especially the retreating forehead which any observer of the man in life could not fail to notice. He was possessed with an inordinate degree of vanity and was quite susceptible to flattery." 

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Profile of Joseph Smith by Sutcliffe Maudsley 1842, with the Dibble Death mask superimposed 50% opacity. 

Winchester's above quote could not be in reference to Joseph Smith's death mask, as many stated it was created from tracing Joseph Smith's Profile shadow, a technique of shining a bright light source onto a wall with paper tacked to the wall to be traced. The forehead in Sutcliffe Maudsley's artwork matches the death mask so well, it is clear he did not smash his face in upon his death, when he fell from the second floor of Carthage jail. Clearly Winchester was NOT criticizing this artwork, but the many Cabinet Cards Charles Carter was selling of the forward facing painting, since 1885 (this quote was in 1889). 

Carter copied Joseph Smith III's 1879 photograph of the David Roger's painting, with the belief that this was a real photograph of Joseph Smith, whether Joseph Smith III had or showed him the real daguerreotype is a possibility, maybe it was too oxidized/blackened to do so, so the daguerreotype of the forward facing painting was done instead. Alas, Carter had many sketch the forward facing painting, and clearly that did NOT show the peculiar shape of his head, particularly the "retreating forehead". Retreating is synonymous with receding and when talking about a forwarding facing "picture" not showing Joseph Smith's retreating forehead, can only be interpreted as not showing a receded hairline. 

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"Copied from the original daguerreotype taken at the City of Nauvoo, in 1843, Copyright secured. Entered according to the Act of Congress in the Year 1885, by Charles W. Carter, in the office of the Library of Congress at Washington." 

Charles Carter's copy of JS III photograph of the forward facing painting of his Father Joseph Smith Jun.

The famous above pictured images of Joseph Smith (copied from the David Roger's painting) do not show the peculiar shape of Joseph Smith's head, nor his retreating forehead (per the above quote by Benjamin Winchester. Sorry guys, he was 38 when he died, he lost some of his hair!!

Joseph Smith noted losing his hair (permanently) on two different occasions, BEFORE he was even 30 years old. 

25–26 March 1832

"...I found myself going out of the door, in the hands of about <​a​> dozen men; some of whose hands were in my hair, and some hold of my shirt, drawers and limbs...he first I knew I was going out of the door in the hands of an infuriated Mob. I made a desperate struggle, as I was forced out, to extricate myself, but only cleared one leg, with which I made a pass at one man..."  

6 May–June 1832, Joseph Smith's Journal States:

"I...commenced vomiting most profusely; I raised large quantities of blood and poisonous matter, and so great were the muscular contortions of my system that my jaw was dislocated...although the effect of the poison had been so powerful, as to cause much of my the hair to become loosened from my head. " 

Truman G. Madsen stated he saw a receding hairline on Joseph Smith, in the late 70s:

"[Joseph Smith] bore all he could bear and was prematurely old at age thirty-eight.

The death mask applied by George Cannon, a convert from England, to the face of Joseph (as also one to Hyrum) after the Carthage assassination gives us the exact lineaments of the Prophet’s forehead, his hairline, which was in 1844 receding some, partly as a result of poisoning." TRUMAN G. MADSEN, "Joseph Smith Lecture 2: Joseph’s Personality and Character",  August 22, 1978. 

Light Distortion

This gentleman's collar is enlarged and enhanced in size on the left of his collar (our right) because of light distortion.

Now, why am I showing you the collar of 1840s Illinois Man, when this is a page about Joseph's receded hairline? I am showing you light distortion on something white/light. The right- our right... of the collar, seen above, appears to be THICKER and LARGER because light distortion! There appears to be splatters of light, or a flare coming off of the collar on our right, his left. Light distortion is seen in three other places in the photograph, something pinned to his left (our right) collar (probably a carnation flower), a pin on his right lapel AND... his white FOREHEAD (appears drastically wider on his left). Although I believe this worsen hair receding on his left is due to his hair being pulled out in 1832, and I believe this image is Joseph Smith Jun., I believe also it is enlarged more than it is in reality. Safe to say, images below show when I trace the outline of the Dibble death mask and superimpose that onto my Joseph everything fits perfectly if simply enlarged slightly, up till the area where there is light distortion, thus explained by the glare on his skin, which back in the day- was kept very light because of hats (even walking outside without one was seen as a sign of mental illness, in some stories I've read from the 1840s). A hat worn was just before this photo was taken, as this man as "hat hair", this protected their foreheads from the sun, and made their foreheads more pale and actually helped keep them from aging. 

Sketch of the outline of the Dibble death mask in green, seen on our right. 

Superimposed outline of the dibble death mask, superimposed onto my CDV, note- when expanded, to make up for camera distortion (image of the mask was taken too close, and I know it- cause I took it and couldn't find a ladder- bahaha), then we see the shape and outline match, nearly perfectly, the hairline is pushed forward on the left of the death mask, from injury, apparent on his forehead. 

1800s Photos of the Death Mask showed a Receding Hairline!

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Image above is the only version of the dibble death mask, Charles Carter glass negative of the Dibble Death Mask of Joseph Smith, that was taken before white, shiny plaster was added to the broken edges of Joseph's death mask; superimposed below, of the 2019 photographs taken by me, in person at the Church History Museum, you notice how the hairline and outline has changed significantly, and the older version better shows the receding hairline Joseph had, on June 28th, 1844. 

Call Number:

PH 1300

The original death mask's hairline matches the hairline in my 1860s Carte de Visite, Teghan Lucas and Maciej Henneberg found to likely be the Prophet Joseph Smith, and also of note are the profile paintings by Maudsley (showing a less bouffant hair, later years almost flat comb over) and the painting kept in Brigham Young's office, all showing a much more receded hairline than what the forward facing painting (including the Library of Congress and Carter Image) portray. 

The left side of Joseph Smith's Death mask shown above, shows a lot more hair than on his right, and when compared to the "Black Top Hat" painting of Joseph Smith, by Sutcliffe Maudsley right next to it, his hairline was worse in the artwork from life than the mask- from this angle. Possibly the blow to his head, from falling on his left side (per witnesses of the June 27th, 1844 murder of his brother Hyrum and himself), no where does it state Joseph fell on his face, but rolled onto his face. 

"He seemed to fall easy. He struck partly on his right shoulder and back, his neck and head reaching the ground a little before his feet.

He rolled instantly on his face....When President Smith had been set against the curb, and began to recover, from the effects of the fall, Col. Williams ordered four men to shoot him. Accordingly, four men took an eastern direction, about eight feet from the curb, Col. Williams stranding partly at their rear, and made ready to execute the order. While they were making preparations, and the muskets were raised to their faces, President Smith’s eyes rested upon them with a calm and quiet resignation. He betrayed no agitated feelings and the expression upon his countenance seemed to betoken his inly prayer to be: “O, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” William Daniels account of the events as they unfolded outside of the jail on June 27th, 1844. 

It seems clear that Joseph fell first on his head and rolled onto his face, however he did NOT fall onto his face when he fell out the window, and Willard Richards states Joseph Fell on his "left side" a dead man, so if this also is true, the left side of Joseph's head hit the ground first and likely wounded his scalp and skull, changing it's original shape and therefore hairline. Post mortem the wounds were treated and cotton balls were stuffed into the bullet wounds, however never is it stated that cotton was put into his nostrils. 

Above is my sketch of the skull buried as Hyrum Smith (six doctors believed was really Joseph Smith's), superimposed onto the Dibble Death Mask of Joseph Smith. Evidence this is Joseph's skull: only his left (our right) frontal bone edge is straight- not curved on both the skull and the mask, why?- the Skull shows that this odd shaping is due to broken bone on the side of his left head, to his temple, even jagged edges run down the side of his left front bone (our right), which ironically is where the hairline shows baldness on Joseph Smith's 3D death Mask, only showing stronger evidence that my CDV IS of Joseph Smith. The baldness (not male patterned, but likely due to the fact his hair was ripped out in 1832 and never grew back), on the side of his head- was on his left (our right) side of his head, compensated for by brushing his hair straight forward. 

"Black Top Hat, painting by Sutcliffe Maudsley, really shows the hair laying flat and a comb-over happening.

Most modern artwork of Joseph Smith, from "Lego Joseph", to the Broadway version, the Elvis Bouffant is- to us, Joseph Smith. When I saw 2009's popular movie, Twilight, and saw Edward's bouffant hair, I called it the Joseph Smith Hairstyle, we all believed that was "his hair", it wasn't until I saw my CDV that I began to see him differently and the truth is, WOMEN hardly make a peep about the hairline, whereas the men are the one's who take issue with it.


 Women who see my Carte de Visite, look at the eyes, they see a good looking guy, they notice the matching facial features and honestly- we see "it" faster, the likeness, the goodness and the gosh-darn hairline is something we "get over" FAST, just as we get over fast how MOST guys by age 38 have somewhat of a receding hairline, and TODAY do a Comb-forward, OR- they do shave it all off, but we know you're doing it because you lost your hair. So, I beg of you, accept the reality of Joseph Smith's hairline and stop lying to me about a fictional hairline a goofy, comedic David Roger's did of Joseph Smith, accept he was likely making Joseph laugh with a roar because he was showing him how artist do "photoshop" 1840s style... 

As I analyzed the Dibble Death Mask of Joseph Smith Jun., 3-D version, which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has provided to the public, I noticed that "wow, eureka!" moment, the 3D version showed his hairline missing on the left side of his face and of course the visible hairline on the right (his right- our left) the hairline when the outline is width is adjusted- really does match very well. 


Recently I did a  tracing superimpositions with a grid, to analyze whether 1840s Illinois Man's hairline came farther forward on the top left (our right)- more, just like on the death mask? I recorded my reaction, second video below, real-time I saw that it really, really does- come more forward on BOTH 1840s Illinois guy's left portion of the top hairline, as it does on the death mask (likely overgrowing his hair to brush it more forward, to cover where the mob ripped it out in 1832). the area that is "off" the left side (his left) of his forehead really is mostly due to the fact that he one- was beaten so badly with a pewter fife in the head, that he bashed the right and left sides of his skull out completely, likely causing enough damage that covering it with a heavy death mask proved useless in those areas of the head, and  that Joseph Smith fell head first- on his left side: 

"He seemed to fall easy. He struck partly on his right shoulder and back, his neck and head reaching the ground a little before his feet." (William Daniels testimony, Nauvoo Neighbor in its May 7 and May 14, 1845 issue).   

Interview with Lach Mackay and John Hammer, below, 10:49 mins in, John tells of his ancestor seeing the popular "images" of Joseph Smith in the 1880s  and them NOT showing his... "retreating forehead"... 
The "popular" images of Joseph were Carter's photographs of the forward facing painting. 

John Hammer's Ancestor felt the above image did NOT show Joseph's "retreating forehead"... receding hairline

Light Distortion, likely is making Illinois Man's left forehead appear wider... 

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