Bust-length, full face portrait of Mr. John T.(? or W.?) Pilling, with dark curly hair and moustache, wearing a dark blue coat with black velvet collar, gold buttons on coat, white shirt and high white collar and white stock tied in a bow. The frame claims that the portrait is of Edgar Allan Poe, but this was proved to be spurious when an inscription was found on the back of the portrait reading "Mr. John T. [or perhaps W.?] Pilling, Frankford, May 24th 1834." The attribution to Anna Claypoole Peale is also questionable.
It is likely that the sitter is related to the factory owner Samuel Pilling who in about 1820 built one of the first mills for the block printing of calico in Frankford, a mill-town near Philadelphia. There are a number of references to John Pilling in 19th-century publications suggesting that he was a wealthy textile manufacturer in Newark, Delaware. This John Pilling seems to have married for the first time in 1851, at around the age of twenty-one, but this would not match with the date written on the back of the miniature, unless perhaps this indicates a date of birth, rather than the date at which the portrait was completed.