The Daguerreian Society


From The Daguerreian Journal (New York) Vol. 1, No. 2 (15 November 1850) pp. 49-50.


Daguerreotyping in New York

   There is probably no city in the United States, where the Daguerrian Art is more highly appreciated, and successfully practiced than in New York. We are not in the least surprised, that the public looked upon the first number of our Journal with a curious sensation. That an art, yet in its infancy, can sustain a regular publication, devoted to its interests, is a matter of no mean magnitude. Few indeed, there are, who are aware of the extent, in a pecuniary point of view, that the Photographic Art is carried on in our city. We have endeavored to give as correctly as possible, full statistics of that branch partaining only to the art of taking Daguerreotype likenesses.
   It will be in place here to tender out thanks to the Artists generally, who were so kind in favoring our project, by freely and confidently aiding us to gain the following facts.
   We find 71 rooms in this city, devoted solely to this art; independent of the many stores and manufactories engaged in making and selling the materials. In these rooms there are in all 127 operators, including the proprietors and persons engaged in the Galleries, also 11 ladies and 46 boys. We find that the amount of rent paid by these artists to be $25,550 per year. Let us allow $10 per week for the 127 operators; this certainly is a very low estimate, we find the amount $1,270 per week, or calculating 52 weeks per year, the result is $66,040. For the 11 ladies engaged, we estimate $5 per week, making $2,860 per year. The boys 46, at $1 per week, $2,392. Thus we find the total amount necessary to defray the above expenses to be $96,842, per annum. It is seen by the above, that we make no estimate of the materials used (such as plates, cases, and chemicals,) by these artists in taking likenesses, and we forbear to make any estimate of this last, as many artists are now taking pictures at such reduced rates.
   Were it not for the enterprising few engaged, our art would sink into deep insignificance. Thanks to the noble and generous who are striving to promote the interest of the Daguerreian Art, by keeping pictures up to such prices as will demand respect. We may almost look in vain to see our art elevated to its deservedly high eminence, until the public shall be enabled to discriminate between a fifty cent and a three dollar Daguerreotype. We look upon a person visiting a Daguerreian Artist's Room for the purpose of obtaining a cheap picture, as one who thinks little of the art, and less of his friends. Often it is the case, that a gentleman calls upon an artist, and wants a likeness,—from his appearance the artist is led to suppose him a member of the first society; and this may really be the case. Well, the artist steps forward, shows his many specimens and asks, what size will you have? The person thus addressed, looks in the glass, surveys himself, and with all the dignity imaginable, exclaims,—Ah! Oh! a small size, common,—it's only for a friend. The artist turns about to his business, thinking to himself,—Only for a friend,—What a compliment for a friend,—Ha! I wonder who your friends are.

(End of text. Please refer to our textnote regarding this text.)

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