The Daguerreian Society


Two items for today. . .

On this day (June 14) in the year 1851, the following advertisement 
appeared in the "Daily National Intelligencer" (Vol. XXIX., No. 11,915):
 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 SUPERIOR DAGUERREOTYPES!--First Pre-
 mium!--J.H. WHITEHURST as extended the field
 of his operations over more ground than any daguerreo-
 typist in the country.  His galleries may be found on Penn-
 sylvania avenue, between 4 1/2 and 6th streets, No. 207 Balti-
 more street, Baltimore; corner Broadway and Leonard street,
 Now York; No. 77, Main street, Richmond; Sycamore street,
 Petersburg; Main street, Norfolk; and Main street, Lynch-
 burg, Virginia.
   His beautiful and highly-finished electro daguerreotypes are
 an extraordinary improvement, ensuring faithful and highly-
 finished likenesses in a few seconds.
   The rotary back-ground, invented by J. H. Whitehurst,
 gives an airy and living appearance to the picture.
   He is the patentee of the Morteotype, the art of embedding
 daguerreotype likenesses in tombstones, so as to make them
 resist the ravages of time and weather.
   Whitehurst's establishments now distribute more than thirty
 thousand pictures annually, and have never given dissatisfac-
 tion!  This is certainly a flattering proof of the superiority of
 his likenesses.
   J.H.W. calls the attention of the public generally to his
 elegantly furnished gallery over Lane and Tucker's new store,
 where a free exhibition of pictures will be given.
   Notwithstanding the unusual competition in daguerreotypes
 at the recent Fair of the Maryland Institute, he was awarded
 the first medal by the judges.
   Likenesses of every description copied, and post mortem
 cases attended to.                                    dec 5--ly

 * * * * * * * * * * *

The following article appeared in June 1890 issue of "The International 
Annual of Anthony's Photographic Bulletin"

HAWTHORNE ON THE DAGUERREOTYPE.
By W. I. Lincoln Adams, Editor Photographic Times, N.Y.

   The present movement in America to honor the memory of Daguerre, by 
erecting in Washington a fitting monument, is reviving an interest in 
all that appertains to the process which he discovered.
   I wonder if all the readers of The International Annual have noticed 
the interesting remarks on the subject, which America's great romance 
writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, has made, in his characteristic way, in the 
sixth chapter of that fascinating book, "The House of the Seven Gables."
   The young daguerreotypist, Holgrave, is working in the garden of the 
old Pycheon mansion; and Phoebe, the gentle New England maiden, has met 
him there, in caring for her favorite fowls and plants.
   Holgrave declares his profession to Phoebe, to be that of a 
daguerreotypist, to which she replies:
   "I don't much like pictures of that sort.  They are so hard and 
stern, besides drawing away from the eye, and trying to escape 
altogether.  They are conscious of looking very unamiable, I suppose, 
and therefore hate to be seen."
   "If you will permit me," said the artist, looking at Phoebe, "I 
should like to try whether the daguerreotype can bring out disagreeable 
traits on a perfectly amiable face.  But there certainly is truth in 
what you have said.  Most of my likenesses do look unamiable; but the 
very sufficient reason, I fancy, is because the originals are so.  There 
is a wonderful insight in heaven's broad and simple sunshine.  While we 
give it credit for depicting only the merest surface, it actually brings 
out the secret character with a truth that no painter would ever venture 
upon, even could he detect it.  There is, at least, no flattery in my 
humble line of art.  Now, here is a likeness which I have taken over and 
over again, and still with no better result.  Yet the original wears to 
common eyes a very different expression.  It would gratify me to have 
your judgment on this character."
   "To be sure," she said, "you have found some way of copying the 
portrait without its black velvet cap and gray beard, and have given him 
a modern coat and satin cravat instead of his cloak and band."
   "You would have seen other differences had you looked a little 
longer," said Holgrave.  "I can assure you that this is a modern face, 
and one which you will very probably meet.  Now, the remarkable point 
is, that the original wears to the world's eye--and, for aught I know, 
to his most intimate friends--an exceedingly pleasant countenance, 
indicative of benevolence, openness of heart, sunny good humor, and 
other traces of worthy qualities of that cast.  The sun, as you see, 
tells quite another story, and will not be coaxed out of it after half a 
dozen patient attempts on my part.  Here we have the man sly, subtle, 
hard, imperious, and, withal, cold as ice.  Look at that eye.  Would you 
like to be at its mercy?  At the mouth.  Could it ever smile?  And yet, 
if you could only see the benign smile of the original!"
   Thus it is, that the daguerreotype, not only, but also our modern 
silver photograph, reveals the inner character of a man.  It is as if 
the sun could penetrate beneath the surface and depict the spirit there 
which is not always discernible by the human eye.  Many photographers 
have undoubtedly observed this fact in their portraits, but who, save 
the great romancer, has describe it so vividly?

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Posted for your enjoyment.      Gary W. Ewer       
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06-14-96


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