Daguerreian Society

On this day (December 8) in the year 1842, the following advertisement 
appeared in the "Essex County Washingtonian (Salem and Lynn, Mass.; Vol. 1, 
No. 39):

(Note from Gary: After sending this post, I received a few responses
in regards to the advertisement. The responses are appended to the
end of this file.)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

               P L U M B E ' S
Constituting the oldest and most extensive establishment of
the kind in the world, and containing nearly
a thousand pictures!
        A D M I T T A N C E   F R E E.
  The Proprietor, Professor of Pho-
tography, has the pleasure an-
nouncing, he has just succeeded in dis-
covering an improvement in the
Art, of such vast importance, as to
throw completely into the shade,
all the specimens of it heretofore
  By a process confined exclusive-
ly to this Establishment, and
secured by Letters Patent, the inval-
uable desideratum of producing COLOR'D PHOTOGRAPHS
has been happily attained.  Possessing the sole privilege of
taking colored Daguerreotypes, the Patentee has reduced
his terms to THREE DOLLARS for two Portraits, that all
may now avail themselves of this now pre-eminently beauti-
ful mode of obtaining likenesses.
  'PLUMBE'S PATENT Daguerreotype Apparatus, Pa-
tent Rights, Instruction, &c., supplied on reasonable
  'Plumbe's Patent ElectoGilding and Plating Establish-
ment, attached to the Daguerrian Gallery, Court street,
  The Patentee will dispose of Rights, Apparatus and In-
struction, for his new mode of Gilding, Silvering, &c., which
can be supplied to metallic articles of every description--
and is so superior in all respects, as wholly to supercede the
methods hitherto known.
  Prompt attention to paid letters--and to those only.
  Boston, dec 8

A note: The advertisement is accompanied by a wood-engraving of a man 
looking at an open daguerreotype and is reproduced on the web site of  The 
Daguerreian Society at:
* * * * * * * * * *
The responses follow...

Charlie Schreiner wrote:

  I've just started doing some research on daguerreotype patents and 
coincidently your Dec 8 included the above.  I've ordered copies of all the 
patents relating to daguerreotypes from a listing of patents issued by the 
U.S. Patent Office from 1790 to 1873. There are about 50 or so and Plumbe's 
name isn't there. It is possible that Plumbe purchased the rights from 
another person or the inventor could've been an associate or employee. My 
list shows a patent issued for coloring daguerreotypes May 28, 1842 to B.R. 
Stevens & L. Morse of Lowell, Mass.. Another issued on Oct. 22,1842 to D. 
Davis, Jr. of Boston Mass.  These are the first two (and the only in 1842) 
patents in the U.S. having to do with dags.
  Irving [Pobboravsky] and I have planned to do some experimenting over the 
winter. It occured to me that there might be some overlooked nuggets in   
patent material that would solve all our problems...what got me going on 
this in the first place.  In seeing this advertisement, it came to mind to 
compare the claim in the ad to the actual patent, then try to duplicate the 
results.  In your files, do you have other such ads boasting patented 
apparatus or processes?
   Also, if you are interested, the patent and its date of issue could be 
added to tidbits in DagNews.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
Bill Becker wrote:

Charlie's surmise is correct.  In Newhall's 'Daguerreotype in America,'
Third Revised  Edition (Dover), p. 40:

"Plumbe rapidly expanded his operations.  He bought from Daniel Davis
his patent for a way to color daguerreotypes by electroplating selected
areas of the silver surface with various metals, and peddled it to
daguerreotypists in New England.  Lucius H. Cathan wrote Southworth from
Townshend, Vermont:  'Mr. Plumbe has filled the country people's heads
full, with the idea of his 'colored photography,'  as I have seen but 
few  of them, I could  discover nothing so 'wonderful' or astonishing in

In his bio of Plumbe in the appendix, Newhall gives the patent number as
"2.826" (probably a typo) and says Plumbe bought it from D. Davis Jr. in

I saw one of these in Atlanta, and couldn't agree more with Cathan.  I
believe  Cliff has one of the better examples, but even that falls far
short of "color."  

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
Len Olarsch wrote:

Hi Gary, With regard to Charlie Schreiner's question, I have a daguerreotype
with the words " Plumbe's Patent Oct 22, 1842" on the bottom of a paper mat
with chestnut design. Plumbe bought the rights to the patent from Daniel
Davis jr. It was only the second photography patent issued in the U.S. and
purported to put color into a daguerreotype by electrolysis. Judging from my
daguerreotype and the literature on this process, the color produced was not
that astounding. I hope this is helpful.

Posted for your enjoyment.      Gary W. Ewer       

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