The Daguerreian Society

Two texts from Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, and Monthly American Review (Philadelphia) Vol. 6 (1840).

This periodical was edited by William E. Burton and Edgar A. Poe. These texts—attributed to Poe—are from a four-part series “A Chapter on Science and Art.”

Selected text from Vol. 6, No. 4 (April 1840) pp. 193-194. (This is the second installment of the series.)


    IMPROVEMENTS IN THE DAGUERREOTYPE.—Numerous improvements have been lately made in the beautiful art of photogeny. The baron Seguier has exhibited an instrument constructed by himself, with many ingenious modifications, having for their objects a diminution in size and weight, and a simplification, in other respects, of the entire apparatus. Several of the conditions which have been announced as required for the success of the process, may be dispensed with. It is probably, now, that the operations of the art may be rendered practicable in the open country—even those nice and delicate ones which, at present, seem to demand protection against too strong a light. An objective glass has been constructed by M. Cauche, with the view of redressing the image obtained in the Daguerreotype; this image is now presented reversed, a circumstance which has the bad effect of destroying all vraisemblance. The Abbé Mognat has been endeavoring, in conjunction with M. Soleil, (a name of quite á propos,) to introduce the light of oxy-hydrogen gas as the principle of illumination to the objects intended to be represented. M. Bayard is said to have fully succeeded in taking impressions on paper. Mr. Fox Talbot, in England, has also done this.
    In America, we have by no means been idle. It has been here ascertained that instead of the costly combination of glasses employed by M. Daguerre, a single Meniscus glass produces an exact and brilliant result. We have also found that we can do without the dilute nitric acid in photogeny, as well as in lithography. The process is thus greatly simplified; for the use of the acid has heretofore been considered one of the nicest points in the preparation of the plate. When unequally applied, the golden color is not uniform. Now, it is only necessary to finish the polish of the plate with dry rotten stone, well levigated and washed, using dry cotton to rub it with afterwards. We make the iodine-box, too, much shallower than does M. Daguerre. With his box, from fifteen to thirty minutes exposure of the plate was required before the proper color was produced. Four inches will be deep enough; and there should be a tray, an inch deep, fitting into the bottom of the box. Upon this tray the iodine is to be spread, and then covered with a double thickness of fine gauze, tacked to the upper edge of the tray—supports being fastened in each corner of the box, at such height as will admit of the plate being lowered to within an inch of the gauze.

Selected text from Vol. 6, No. 7 (May 1840) page 246. (This is the third installment of the series.)


    IMPROVEMENTS IN THE DAGUERREOTYPE.—Mr. A. S. Wolcott, of New York, has nearly revolutionized the whole process of Daguerre and brought the photogenic art to high perfection. The inventor, it is well know, could not succeed in taking likenesses from the life, and, in fact, but few objects were perfectly represented by him, unless positively white, and in broad daylight. By means of a concave mirror, in place of the ordinary lens, Mr. W. has succeeded in taking miniatures from the living subject, with absolute exactness, and in a very short space of time.

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

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