Daguerreian Society

This is the longest text I've ever posted as DagNews. It is, however, a 
tremendous text describing both the history of the discovery as well as 
the present "state of the art"; it is well worth the time required to 
read it. In its original presentation, the article occupies nearly the 
full page in four columns of very small type. While the text includes a 
few details that we now know to be in error, the article does represent 
one of the better contemporary sources of information.
   I am happy to make it available to you, in its entirety, for the 
first time since its original publication. I've also made it available 
as a Word document at:


If you do not have web access, but would like to receive the article as 
a Word document, drop me a note and I'll send it to you as an email 

The text will also soon be available in HTML format on The Daguerreian 
Society web site.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On this day (April 23) in the year 1853, the following article appeared 
in "The New-York Weekly Tribune" Vol. XII, No. 606 (Saturday, April 23, 
1853; page 7):


                  HISTORY OF THE INVENTION.

  The art of Photography--more popularly known as Daguerreotyping--is 
brought to so great a perfection in this country, and prosecuted on a 
scale of such magnitude, and the different manufactures connected with 
it are of such importance, especially in this City, that we propose 
giving a few details respecting them, and also a sketch of the origin 
and progress of this important discovery.
  Several designations distinguish this new art--it was originally 
called Photography, or writing by light; afterward, the art of 
Photogenic drawing, or drawing produced or occasioned by light; then 
Heliography, or writing by the sun--the latter term being that used by 
the experimenter who first succeeded in fixing the delineations of 
pictures produced by light--Mons. Daguerre, whose name has originated 
another and the most general title by which the art is known--
Daguerreotyping--a compliment to the discoverer which will hand his name 
down to the latest posterity.
  Although it was not until the year 1839, that Daguerre first succeeded 
in making a picture by the aid of the sunlight, upon a plate chemically 
prepared, still the idea that such an effect could be produced had been 
entertained as far back as early in the commencement of the Eighteenth 
Century; and memoirs on the influence of light in the crystalization of 
salts were published, by Petit in 1722, by Chaptal in 1788, and by Dize 
in 1789.  These and similar researches led to the experiments of Mr. 
Wedgwood, the porcelain manufacturer of Staffordshire, England, who, in 
1803, laid before the Royal Institution of London a memoir, entitled "An 
Account of a Method of Copying Paintings upon Glass, and of Making 
Profiles by the Agency of Light upon Nitrate of Silver; with 
Observations by Sir Humphrey Davy."  A solution of nitrate of silver, 
spread on white paper or leather, was the photographic material 
employed; but the experiments eventually failed, owing solely to the 
want of those chemical agencies which were afterwards employed as the 
fixing materials.  Bromine, Iodine, and Hyposulphite of Soda, were not 
then discovered, and, without them, Photography would still have 
remained where Wedgwood left it.
  No further investigations appear to have been made until 1814, when M. 
Niepce, of Chalons-sur-Saone, turned his attention to the chemical 
agency of light, his object being "to fix the images of the camera-
obscura;" and he discovered that by spreading bitumen on a glass or 
metal plate, and placing this in the camera, a dormant image was 
impressed on the plate in five or six hours.
  In 1824 Daguerre commenced his researches, employing, like Wedgwood, 
nitrate and chloride of silver, and in 1826, he and Niepce, becoming 
acquainted, pursued their inquiries together.  In 1829, Niepce, in a 
letter to Daguerre, says:
  "The discovery which I have made consists in producing spontaneously, 
by the action of the light, with gradations of tint, from black to 
white, the images received by the camera-obscura."
  But previous to this, in 1827, Niepce had exhibited engravings, copied 
by means of photography, many of which are still in existence, 
presenting the appearance of advanced sketches, produced by means of a 
graver, and proving that he had already solved the problem, which had 
defeated all his predecessors, of making his copy insensible to the 
subsequent and blackening rays of the sun.
  In 1839, Niepce and Daguerre entered into a deed of partnership, in 
which document the several portions of the discovery are accorded to the 
respective parties to the contract, and it contains the remarkable 
assertion that the experiments of the latter had elicited a process 
which reproduced images with sixty or eight times the force of the 
previous mode.  It is necessary to observe the words of the contract--
"for the photographic copying of engravings,"--for not only did he fail 
in producing likenesses of living objects, (for, as well be presently 
shown, the first successful attempt in that sphere was made in this 
State,) but he was unsuccessful in his attempts at producing copies from 
nature.  In a landscape, for instance, a part of the picture was boldly 
portrayed while another portion would be poor and inefficient, and there 
would be between gaps entirely destroying the effect of the whole.  
Daguerre at length conceived a method which he called Niepce's plan 
completed, but, though an improvement, it was still far from efficient.  
Through a long course of observation, however, he at length saw the 
reason of his repeated failures, and by great perseverance and ingenuity 
finally so far overcame them as to bring his discovery to a practical 
state.  Niepce died in 1833, and his interest in the invention devolved 
to his son; but it was not until 1839 that Daguerre had perfected his 
process.  He then submitted it to the French Government, with a view to 
obtaining a compensation to enable him to make the result of his long 
labors public; and from a report made to the Chamber of Deputies, by the 
celebrated Arago, it appeared that the Commission of Inquiry were 
convinced of its capability to effect what its inventor claimed.  A 
resolution was ultimately passed granting to Daguerre a pension of 6,000 
francs ($1,200), and to Niepce, Jr., 4,000 fr. ($800) annually, but the 
former sum was finally increased to $10,000 fr. ($2,000.)
  But previous to the grant by the French Government, which also 
purchased the secret of Daguerre's process, in their own words, "for the 
glory of endowing the world of science and of art with one of the most 
surprising discoveries that honor their native land," Mr. Fox Talbot, of 
London, published "Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing," and 
still holds a contested claim, together with Mr. Wattles, of the United 
States, to a priority of the Invention over Daguerre; but if Talbot be 
indeed entitled to the credit of an inventor of this beautiful art, the 
productions of Daguerre evince so much more perfection, that the palm of 
superiority must be conceded to the latter.  The English invention is 
known by the name of the Calotype or Talbotype process, and differs from 
all others by the employment of paper instead of metal plates; but 
though many believe that, on account of its greater cheapness, it will 
finally supersede Daguerre's process, we doubt whether such will be the 
case.  The following in the contrary opinion of an eminent authority on 
the subject:
  "As perfectly as the manipulators of the Talbotype profess to 
delineate an image on paper, they do not succeed so well as to preclude 
the necessity of retouching various parts of the picture with the 
pencil.  All their art and care are incompetent to produce those well-
defined, truthful and exquisite lines brought out by the Daguerreotype 
process; while the more rapid manipulation and greater economy of the 
latter will always cause it to be preferred."
  Mr. Talbot also is the original introducer of the process substituting 
unglazed porcelain for paper.  The latest discovery in this art is 
called the Crystalotype, invented by Mr. Whipple, of Boston.  It is a 
method of taking scenes or likenesses upon glass and paper, so that with 
one picture thousands of copies may be made.  Its rapidity and cheapness 
will no doubt make it a popular method of illustration for books; it, 
however, still needs to be greatly improved, especially in its 
representations of natural objects, as houses, trees and landscapes.  It 
makes everything appear flat, and its landscapes are without an 

              THE STEREOSCOPE.

  But one of the most wonderful of all the discoveries connected with 
the Daguerrian art, is the Stereoscope, a name signifying the power to 
show pictures of natural objects, under the form of solids, precisely as 
they themselves appear standing out in isolated relief.  It was invented 
by Professor Wheatstone, of London, one of the claimants of the 
discovery of the magnetic telegraph, but who, nevertheless, regards the 
Stereoscope as his best title to fame.  By some means, however, its 
merits, if appreciated by a few, were overlooked by the public, and it 
was not until recently that a Stereoscope introduced by Sir David 
Brewster received that attention which its predecessors had failed to 
procure.  The following translation of a description by a French savan 
will clearly suggest its peculiar action:
  "You take two designs or pictures of an object taken turn by turn, 
with the right eye and the left, then adjust them side by side, 
perpendicularly before your eyes at the bottom of a little box, the 
image on the right being seen by the right eye, and that on the left by 
the left eye; between each eye and image you interpose a prism at such 
an angle or inclination as will force the two images from the right and 
left toward the center.  If you have correctly adjusted the angle of the 
two prisms, as also the distance from your eyes to the images, all the 
corresponding points of the two images will be seen so magically blended 
and commingled as to form one identical image, the looking at which 
produces at first a very singular physical sensation in the eyes, which 
very soon passes away, and you behold there the one image in the most 
perfect isolated relief, with all its advancing and retreating parts, as 
perfect as if the real object, without any intervening medium, was 
standing there before you.  To describe the magical and captivating 
effect of this spontaneous transformation of two images into one solid 
image and of three times the size, length, breadth and depth, would be a 
thing impossible.  The effects of the stereoscope are not confined to 
the representation of geometrical objects, such as pyramids, cones, &c.  
If in this marvelous apparatus, we look at two drawings of a bas-relief, 
a statue, or two portraits of a living person, or two views of a 
landscape, they will appear just as they are in nature.  We see the 
eyes, the lips, the nose, in short, all the striking features of the 
face and all the projecting parts of the body, coming forward clearly 
from the background with all their relative proportions.  The illusion 
is complete, and we see the person depicted standing there identically 
before us.  It is known that pictures of natural objects are reproduced 
on the plates of Daguerre, the paper of Talbot, and the albuminated 
glass of Niepce de Saint Victor, with the same absolute exactitude that 
their fleeting images are pictured on the retina of the eye.  When, 
therefore, we wish to obtain the image of a bas-relief, a statue, a 
landscape, or a living person, for the stereoscope, we have only to 
arrange before the object a binocular camera--that is, a camera 
furnished with object glasses of the same diameter and focal distance, 
and two plates of albuminated glass.  This camera looks for us, and sees 
the object placed before it. Like a complaisant artist, it paints for us 
the two images with superhuman skill and perfection, and we thus obtain 
with ease and facility everything essential for the stereoscope.  
Photography, which was before only a designer of beautiful pictures in 
gray tint, with the incomparable pencil which the stereoscope lends to 
her, has now become transformed into a superhuman painter and sculptor, 
armed with a pencil which would have driven Raphael and Michael Angelo 
to despair.  Photography, thus completed, and crowned by the 
stereoscope, is so vastly improved that the day must soon come when 
nearly all important photographic pictures of landscape, monuments, 
portraits, &c., will be produced double, that is, by couples, in order 
to their stereoscopic reproduction, in all the exact truth of living 
  Notwithstanding this highly eulogistic description of the stereoscope, 
an investigation will satisfy the reader that it fully merits all the 
praise bestowed on it excepting only with regard to portraits.  
Stereoscopic portraits are frightful, giving the individual the air of a 
corpse petrified and painted the color of life.  But for objects of 
still-life, nothing could be more charming.  Still, though so 
universally admired, the stereoscope meets with an unaccountable neglect 
on the part of the public, though this may be to some extent in 
consequence of the greater expense of pictures made by this process.


  But there is yet another difficulty to be overcome, which has hitherto 
baffled all the researches of the most untiring philosophers of this 
Continent and Europe, and one which, when perfected, will add tenfold 
value and beauty to the art of Photography.  We allude to the 
transferring of the natural colors of the subject to be taken--whether 
animate or lifeless.  It was fondly hoped, a few months since, that the 
United States would have had the honor of owning the discovery of this 
grand object as one of her citizens, in the person of Rev. Levi L. Hill, 
of Westkill, Greene Co., New-York; and in consequence of his 
representations a Committee of the Daguerrean trade in this City is said 
to have waited on him with a guarantee of $100,000 to make his secret 
public.  The offer was rejected, since which very free opinions as to 
the reality of the discovery having been made at all have been 
unceremoniously resorted to both in conversation and in that portion of 
the public prints more immediately interested in establishing the truth 
or falsity of Mr. Hill's claim.  It does not come within our present 
purpose to give an opinion, nor, indeed, are we sufficiently well 
informed on the matter.  On the one hand it is stated that a large sum 
has been offered to the discoverer by responsible men, more than 
sufficient, exclusive of moneys that have been subscribed for publishing 
his works, with the avowed purpose of assisting him pecuniarily to 
prosecute his labors; and on the other, it is urged that the 
certificates of highly intelligent and upright men--among others, that 
of Professor Morse--are sufficient guarantees of the existence of the 
discovery.  We also learn that Mr. Hill has, within a few weeks, 
exhibited his invention to a Committee of the United States Senate, with 
the view of obtaining a special patent, and that the report is favorable 
to his claims, though he acknowledges his discovery has not been 
perfected in its practical details.  In their own words:

  "The Committee have formed the opinion that the specimens exhibited to 
them have afforded sufficient proofs that the inventor has solved the 
problem of photographic colorature.  The Committee had in their hands 
the plates, unprotected by glass or any other covering, and saw them 
freely rubbed and otherwise tested, confirming in their minds the fact 
of the invention and the durability of the pictures."

  We devoutly hope that the committee may not prove to be mistaken, for 
such a discovery would be another great American triumph in Daguerrean 
art, superior even to that of the application of the science to the 
delineation of the human countenance, which Daguerre failed in 
accomplishing, but in which Morse, Draper, Chilton and other have 
succeeded--a fact acknowledged with pleasure by Daguerre himself.
  It certainly is very desirable to establish an early claim to the 
discovery of photographic coloring, as many scientific men in Europe 
are, it is well known, engaged in the pursuit of the same object; 
indeed, a method of transferring colors by the aid of sun-light has 
already been discovered by a Frenchman, though he has not yet succeeded 
in fixing them permanently--exposure to the light causing them to vanish 
in a few days.  Mr. James Campbell, of Dayton, Ohio, has also been 
experimenting with the same object; and though not attended with full 
success, his researches have led to the development of many properties 
in various chemicals, under certain conditions, which they were not 
before known to possess; and the additional knowledge thus contributed 
will doubtless conduce to the more rapid discovery of the great aim in 
view.  It will be remembered that we gave a lengthened description of 
this gentleman's experiments in The Tribune of the 4th of March last.


  But, great as are the claims of Photography in our notice, from the 
unswerving minuteness with which it acts, it has still more exalted 
demands on our attention from its utility in advancing the cause of 
knowledge in its most sublime and difficult paths.  Those whose 
admiration of the art has terminated with the expression of joy and 
surprise at the wonderful fidelity of the portrait of some cherished 
friend, are probably unprepared to learn that the cause of astronomy has 
been advanced by the agency of the same simple means.  Yet such is the 
fact, as the following translation from a foreign paper will show:
  "Dr. Bond, of Harvard University, thought that although it were 
impossible to render the moon,--so pale and distant--more luminous, he 
could make the feeble light she possess useful for photography, if he 
could make a gigantic camera-obscura of the magnificent telescope which 
he had at his disposal.  The object-glass of the telescope is 15 inches 
in diameter, and the image of an object formed at its focus is 25 times 
more brilliant than the image of the same object reproduced by a lens of 
three inches.  Mr. Bond placed a plate of iodised silver in the dark 
tube of the telescope, so that the sensible surface of this plate 
corresponded to the focus of the great achromatic object-glass, and he 
caused the telescope, thus prepared, to follow the movement of the moon 
in space, by means of one of those ingenious mechanisms that are 
employed for this effect in observatories.  The result was a veritable 
triumph.  Three excellent proofs, reproducing the least details of the 
moon, were presented at the last meeting of the English Association for 
the progress of science.  The most interesting is a sort of portrait of 
the moon in profile, if we can say so, of the dimension nearly of half a 
dollar piece.  This position of the moon was chosen, because the 
elongated shadows that project from the inequalities of the surface, are 
seen most advantageously.  When we look at the lunar atmosphere, half in 
light and half in shade, the sun shines on it in a transverse direction 
to that in which we are looking.  For example, when we have this 
hemisphere face to face, the sun strikes it from right to left, and the 
shadows are spread out in all their extent before our eyes, and how 
marvelous are these shadows observed with a telescope in certain 
circumstances!  Fringes of darkness casting themselves off behind the 
peaks and summits of silver, rounded waves of shadow, filling up 
cavities in the form of hollow cups as abysses in the midst of this 
strange surface; triangles of jet, shooting forth like twigs from under 
luminous spots, brilliant as diamonds--this is what the telescope 
displayed.  In the photographic image produced by Dr. Bond, all these 
details are revealed to the eye.  Everything there is so completely and 
so faithfully reproduced, that by the aid of a magnifying glass we 
perceive new object, minute details, that had escaped the sight.  The 
revelations of the microscope in this proof are as strange and numerous 
as the revelations of the telescope in the moon itself.  It is probably 
that when the most sensible photogenic surfaces have been found, and we 
can employ object glasses as large as the great reflector of Harvard 
University, some proof representing groups of stars can be obtained.  
Dr. Bond had already succeeded in producing, even on a plate of iodised 
silver, a distinct image of the two constituents of the star Ester.  It 
is impossible to calculate the services that photography is called to 
render to astronomy.  Photographic charts of the stars, frequently 
renewed, would certainly give to astronomers the means of discovering 
all the bodies wandering in space and yet unknown; and we do not doubt 
that the number of them may be considerable, and worthy of serious 
attention, when we remember that the number of the planets has grown 
from 4 to 30 in the space of six years."
  Our space forbids our enumerating many other of the appliances of this 
art which suggest themselves--but the one quoted will, of itself, 
suffice to show that the use to which it is most generally devoted is by 
no means the sole or the most valuable for which it offers itself.  And 
though it is brought in this City to so great perfection, its admirers 
believe that its resources and uses are but very imperfectly developed--
that it may be looked upon, indeed, as in its infancy!


  The Daguerrean Galleries of the City are among the primary objects of 
interest to visitors, and the collections here presented are 
incomparably superior to any to be found in a European Metropolis, 
without exception.  Many of them, too, are adorned with portraits of the 
most eminent of our citizens, statesmen, jurists, soldiers physicians, 
and men of letters, whilst in others, fac-similes of well-known scenes 
are to be found.  Among so many first-rate artists as are established in 
this City, it would be invidious to mention one or two to the exclusion 
of the rest--it will, therefore, suffice to say, that at the Great 
Exhibition of 1851, three medals of the first class were awarded to as 
many American competitors, whose superiority in that friendly struggle 
was incontestable in this department.  Indeed, with the exception of 
Claudet, whose valuable discoveries more than his artistic excellence 
procured him the award of a Council Medal, our artists were not only 
superior, but on the whole, unapproachable, whether from the competition 
of English, French or German.  The reason of this may be found in the 
greater cheapness of Daguerreotype pictures here over those of Europe, 
caused equally by the more universal demand in this country, and by the 
profession, there being held in check by vexatious and costly patents, 
(which, we think, ought never to have been granted, the original idea 
having been purchased for the world by the French Government) which 
confine it within a limited circle of practitioners, and those, in all 
probability, less lovers of the art than follower of it as a means of 
livelihood, while here the number employed, and their constant practice, 
cause an improvement, either in the manipulation, or in some chemical 
process, to be of frequent occurrence.  We may say, in a word, that in 
Europe there are more learned works written, and here the best pictures 
made; there they speculate and experiment, while we work; they are 
unrivaled in theory, we at the highest present point of the art in 
practice; though we freely admit that the rapid improvement made has 
been much aided by the chemical experiments of European philosophers.
  Few visitors to these Galleries have any idea of the importance of the 
trades and manufactures connected with the Photographic art--a few 
statistics will probably be found interesting.
  In the cities of New-York and Brooklyn, there are upward of 100 
Daguerrean establishments, giving direct employment to about 250 men, 
women and boys, though the number who derive support from the art in the 
United States, in all its branches, is variously estimated at from 
13,000 to 17,080, including those working in the manufactories.  For 
some years a great proportion of Daguerreotype goods were imported from 
Europe, principally from France; those made here being considered by 
operators as much inferior, especially the plates.  A great improvement 
has, however, of late taken place in our production of these articles, 
and it will be seen by the number of persons employed, as given above, 
that this is now quite an important branch of domestic industry, there 
being in this City alone six large establishments for the making, 
importation and sale of Photographic goods, the amount of cash invested 
being about $300,00, and the annual sale of materials, $1,000,000.
  It is estimated that there cannot be less than 3,000,000 
daguerreotypes taken annually in the United States; Boston, Philadelphia 
and Baltimore being extensively engaged in the trade, but not equally 
with New-York.
  The interests of the science are represented in the Press by two 
publications--The Photographic Art Journal (monthly) and Humphrey's 
Journal, (semi-monthly,) having a joint circulation of 5,000 copies.  We 
learn that the editor of the former (Mr. Snelling) has in press, A 
Dictionary of the Photographic Art, containing every kind of information 
at all bearing on the subject in his editorial capacity, we are certain 
that the book will be invaluable to every member of the profession, as 
well as to those who may desire more detailed information than our 
limits enable us to give.
  While on the Continent the price of a daguerreotype portrait prohibits 
its possession, except among the wealthier classes, the cost in this 
country ranges so as to suit the pockets of the most humble, there being 
an establishment in New York professing to produce likenesses as low as 
25 cents a piece, while as much as fifty dollars, or even more are 
willingly given in other instances for a single portrait.  Of course, in 
the latter case, the highest artistic excellence is arrived at, and a 
considerable portion of the expense is entailed by the handsome frame in 
which the picture is placed.
  The method adopted at the present day to procure a photographic 
picture, differs materially from that of Daguerre's: many improvements, 
both in the camera and the chemical combinations having been introduced.  
Daguerre originally employed a single lens; our principal operators use 
the achromatic lens, one of which is of a magnitude till lately 
unattainable by the best opticians.  By a camera made by Harrison, the 
operator is enabled to take a portrait nearly life-size, on plates 14 by 
17 inches, the lens alone being 6 1/2 inches in diameter; the cost of 
the apparatus was $400.  We are told this is the largest perfect lens 
ever made; yet the manufacturer expects shortly to produce another, 
which well be 9 1/2 inches in diameter.  The opticians of Munich, though 
renowned for their skill, have never yet succeeded in making a lens 
without flaw, of the size at present in use here.  The price of a 
camera, of the kind in ordinary use, varies with its quality; some being 
sold as low as $15, and ranging up to $150.  The process of procuring 
portraits varies in some slight respects in different establishments, 
but we believe the following is the method adopted by our best 
operators:  a plate, composed of copper and silver, in the proportion of 
one sixteenth of the latter and the remainder of the former, the silver 
being on the surface, is brought to a high state of polish by the use of 
rottenstone, rouge, &c.  It is then galvanized, thus receiving a fine 
coat of pure galvanic silver, when it is repolished, and then submitted 
to a primary coating of the fumes of dry iodine, and also of bromine or 
other accelerating compound.  Having been carefully shielded from the 
light, it is then placed in a camera of achromatic lens, through which 
the reflected rays of the sun upon the sitter are transferred to the 
plate, when chrystalisation takes place.  No impression, however, will 
be visible until the plate be submitted to the heated fumes of mercury, 
when the picture stands boldly forth, a Daguerreotype being nothing more 
than an amalgamation of mercury and silver.  The application of a wash 
of hyposulphite de soda neutralises and removes the remaining chemicals, 
after which comes the most important part of the process--that of 
securing the impression upon the plate, which was discovered by Fizeau, 
in 1845, till which time daguerreotype impression were merely 
transitory.  It may be described as enameling or gilding.  The plate is 
covered with a solution, consisting of chloride of gold, hyposulphite de 
soda, and water, which worked upon by the agency of heat, fixes the 
colors of the picture beyond the possibility of their fading.  To 
establish this fact, we have the authority of the eminent Faraday, who 
declares that a daguerreotype properly gilded by this process can never 
be naturally erased, and could only be removed by the application of 
acids or some other agent.  The time usually occupied in what is 
generally called, "taking a likeness," is from fifteen to twenty seconds 
and upwards, yet we witnessed a few days since, in the laboratory of Mr. 
Williamson, of Brooklyn, a new method by which a perfect picture was 
taken, by the aid of a galvanic batter, in one second; but as the 
process is unprotected by patent, we are not at liberty to explain it 
more fully.
  In addition to what we will call the Daguerreotype proper, just 
described, are numerous other processes which have been more or less 
successful and popular; the principal being the Daguerreotype on Ivory, 
the Crayon Daguerreotype, the Cameo Daguerreotype, the Daguerreotype in 
Oil, the Talbotype or Calotype, the Crystalotype, &c.
  The Daguerreotype on Ivory, introduced by Mr. Brady, we believe, 
consists in the substitution of the material from which it derives its 
name in the place of a metal plate, and the photographic image is then 
transferred to a painter in oil colors.  This process, which owes its 
beauty as much to the skill of the artist as to the fidelity of the 
Daguerreotype, is very much admired.  The Daguerreotype in Oil is 
precisely the same as the above, with the exception of an ordinarily 
prepared metal plate being used in the place of ivory.
  The Crayon Daguerreotype is the invention of Mr. J. A. Whipple, of 
Boston, and is patented by him.  The manner of obtaining it is very 
simple.  Over a hoop is stretched a piece of white paper, half of which 
is removed, leaving the remaining half in the form of a crescent.  This 
is hung in a frame upon pivots, and placed between the sitter and camera 
in such a manner that the lower portion of the image is cut off from the 
spectrum.  During the exposition of the plate the screen is made to 
oscillate backward and forward. Instead of the ordinary back-ground, a 
white one is used.  This is a most beautiful style of Daguerreotype.
  The Cameo Daguerreotype is almost the reverse of the Crayon, being 
simply the head in light and the other parts dark and indistinct, the 
portrait being prominent as in a cameo-cut picture.  When well executed, 
it presents a very tasteful appearance.
  The multiplicity of visitors that are anticipated at the coming 
Exhibition are being actively provided for by our leading Daguerreian 
artists, whose handsome galleries abundantly prove that hitherto they 
have not sought the smiles of the public in vain.  In addition to the 
temptation of elegantly furnished rooms, provided with papers and 
illustrated works to while away the tedium of inevitable delays, a 
different disposition of the skylight is attempted in one establishment, 
an improved camera in another, and entirely new process in a third, and 
so on.  Among other experiments, one of our principal operators has 
tried the effect of a sky-light of blue-glass, under the impression that 
a picture would be thereby improved; but, owing to the variety of tints 
in the glass itself, the plan has been found impractical, and 
accordingly abandoned.  Nevertheless, if in a few cases unsuccessful, it 
is such attempts as these that have been the means of bringing the 
Daguerrean art in this country to a perfection of which we may justly be 
proud, and we trust that the enterprise and activity we have lately 
witnessed in this branch of industry will this year meet again with an 
abundant public patronage.
  We anticipate that the Exhibition will add fresh laurels to those 
which already grace our Daguerrean triumphs, as we learn that a large 
space has been reserved for our leading artists, and we may in all 
confidence look forward to a display superior even to that in Hyde Park, 
as we have two years' longer experience to guide us.
  We cannot do better than close our article with the words of a foreign 
writer, an enthusiastic admirer of the Photographic art:
  "Aided by the Stereoscope, what may we not expect to see realized?  
Every scene hallowed to our memories by its associations with human 
progress, in all its varied phases, may be revived before our eyes in 
all the truthfulness of nature.  From the East we may copy the temples 
and the tombs which tell the story of a strange but poetic creed.  
Assyria and Egypt may disclose their treasures to those who cannot 
travel to survey them, in such a form that all doubt of their 
authenticity must vanish.  The harmonious elegance of the remain of 
Greece and examples of Roman art may thus be easily collected and 
preserved; and every time-honored fane of Europe may be brought home and 
made to minister to our pleasure--instructing and refining our tastes, 
and teaching all the mysteries of the beautiful, behind which, as under 
the shelter of a zephyr-woven veil, we may survey all that is good and 
gaze upon the outshadowing of the Divine."

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

Return to: DagNews 1997

homepage society info search
resources galleries

Copyright 1996, The Daguerreian Society -