The 
Daguerreian Society


On this day (June 4) in the year 1839, the following article appeared 
in the "New-York American" Vol. 21, No. 7311, (front page.)  The bulk 
of the article outlines Talbot's process; I will give the opening 
paragraphs only.
- - - - - - - -


        [ From a late Foreign Journal ]
                  THE NEW ART.

   Half as many places contended for the honor of giving birth to 
Homer, are now contending for that of the invention or discovery of the 
new art of producing drawings, or pictures, or both; and certainly the 
discovery of a productive energy in nature heretofore unknown.

      No common object to the sight displays;
      but what with pleasure heav'n itself surveys.

For now miracles have ceased, such discoveries and inventions (or 
revelations, if the phrase may be permitted) are the means by which 
Providence discloses new roads to social happiness.
   We scarcely yet know how to denominate this new art of producing 
pictures.  M. Daguerre, the highly-talented Parisian dioramist, wished, 
and probably still wishes--to confer on it his own name, by academical 
authority; meanwhile, our own countryman, Mr. Talbot, (less ambitions,) 
has given to it--or given to that branch of it which he has explored, 
and explained to the Royal Society of London--the more scientific name 
of "Photogenic Drawing;" and the German practitioners call it 
Heliography.  But America, also, has made some pretensions to the 
discovery, and we may possibly soon hear of a transatlantic 
appellation.  Since, however, sunlight seems to be essential to its 
successful practice, we conceive the Sun has, at least, as good a right 
to insist upon the important "We," as he, who of old blew the organ 
bellows, and upon the same principle.
   Who has the best right to be esteemed the original inventor or 
discoverer? is a question we shall not discuss at present, further that 
to say, that a letter, published in the Literary Gazette, claims that 
distinction for a M. Niepsce, since deceased, but formerly the co-
experimentalist of Mr. Daguerre.  This gentleman seems to have the most 
satisfactory claims; but all parties must be heard--perhaps probed--and 
it may possibly then appear, that the new art may have been invented in 
more places than one; and so nearly at the same time, that more than 
one may, with justice, lay claim to the honor of originality.
   In many respects, but in one more particularly, which has always 
been held to be of a great academical difficulty--we mean the art of 
"fore-shortening"--Nature will become a severe school mistress.  No 
anatomical or unacademical fore-shortenings will occur to the 
heliographist; since we know, well, that Nature puts every thing 
correctly in perspective, "and no mistake."
  Wherefore, for the present, and for the gratification of those of our 
readers who may also wish to expermentalize, we make publicly known, 
that with the concurrence of our ingenious philosophical countryman, 
Mr. Talbot, Messrs. Ackerman & Co. are preparing an easily portable 
apparatus, that will enable persons of accurate observation to produce 
photogenic drawings.  Of which apparatus we submit the following 
description and directions for use:

. . .remaining paragraphs not transcribe.

The article gives, at the very end, the source for this account as:  --
[The Probe.]


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Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     
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06-04-99


Return to: DagNews 1999

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