Daguerreian Society

Yesterday's post included an extract of text from "Doesticks: What He Says" 
describing the street-side display cases of the New York galleries. One 
occasionally encounters daguerreotypes wherein a face has been obliterated. Have 
you ever wondered why? Another passage in "Doesticks" gives us an explanation.
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From "Doesticks: What He Says" by Q. K. Philander Doesticks, P.B. [psedu. 
THOMPSON, Mortimer Neal] (New York: Edward Livermore, 1855)
[Wright 2, 2492] "First edition of the humorist's first book, preceded by two 

Chapter V "Seeking a fortune--Rail Road felicities"
paragraphs 5 and 6 (pp. 35-36)

Packed up my traps in a red box. Kissed all my friends who had clean faces, and 
bade a long farewell to the aspiring village (which had long since assumed the 
name of city, but had never grown large enough to fit the appellation, and for 
this reason always reminded me of a boy with his father's boots on,) where I had 
vegetated for several years; took a last look at its town-pump, its grocery, and 
its court-house square without any fence round it; feasted my eyes for the last 
time upon the dusty charms of the seminary girls who are perpetually going to 
the story-and-a-half post-office for letters which never come; rode to the 
railroad for the last time in the four-wheeled smoke-house, which, from early 
youth, had been impressed upon my ignorant simplicity as an omnibus; and taking 
my seat in the cars, left without many tears the town where I had treasured up 
such stores of classic knowledge under the consistent inattention of teachers 
who had been paid to neglect my education.
  Paid the man with the brass door-plate on him, sixteen dollars and a half for 
a dirty piece of past-board,--hung up my carpet-bag on a hook which immediately 
broke down, and let the aforesaid bag drop on the bonnet of a populous lady with 
a pair of twins, whom it completely demolished for the time--settled myself in 
my seat for a comfortable nap--was continually roused therefrom by the door-
plate man, who seemed to have a mania for inspecting the dirty pasteboard every 
fifteen minutes--got my mouth full of dust and cinders, which I converted into a 
mortar-bed in my stomach by drinking warm water from the spout of a water-pot 
(brought round by the boy who expect you to buy his greasy apples and ancient 
newspapers as a compensation for the temporary dilution)--changed cars about 
twenty times, and had the satisfaction of seeing my trunk pitched about by the 
vindictive baggage-men at every step, as if they were under obligation to knock 
it to pieces in the least possible space of time.  (When it arrived at the end 
of my journey the lock was broken, the hinges pulled off, and a large hole 
punched in the end, so that I found my clean shirts full of gravel, and that a 
piece of brick which had got in through the place where the lock had been, had 
been rubbed against a daguerreotype of my lady-love, thereby demolishing her 
left eye and scratching the top of her head off.)  Rode all night;. . .

* * * * * * *

While I'm here, I'll also mention a web site that is certainly worth a visit:

"Mathew Brady's National Portrait Gallery"
   A "virtual tour" mounted by the National Portrait Gallery, featuring several 
daguerreotypes. The site allows one to "wander" through the gallery and to click 
on images on the wall for close up views.  The URL is:

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

Return to: DagNews 1997

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