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Random, Off-Topic Stub[edit]

The bottom of the Daguerreotype page has an anecdotal remark about a book of MLB stats published under the same name. I don't think it belongs there, and that a disambiguation page should be created to resolve the issue. Bryteline (talk) 21:04, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Deleted. No reason for that section to be here. AnimalExtender (talk) 11:27, 10 January 2009 (UTC)


The article Daguerreobase should definitely be incorporated into the Daguerreotype article. The former is a ramification of the more fundamental latter. On its own, there's no real need for the Daguerreobase article. Pinkville 16:32, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

Creating a page with detailed intructions re: process[edit]

Could the process be taken out and made into its own article to include detailed process instructions? And then more needs to be added about the history of the Daguerreotype. The very large amount of 'External Links' to American sites should be reduced and other external links added to refer to the way the subject is considered in other parts of the world. (unsigned comment added by on 21:08, 9 March 2007)

You might want to refer to this page: Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not
Excerpted here:
Instruction manuals. While Wikipedia has descriptions of people, places, and things, Wikipedia articles should not include instructions or advice (legal, medical, or otherwise), suggestions, or contain "how-to"s. This includes tutorials, walk-throughs, instruction manuals, video game guides, and recipes. Note that this does not apply to the Wikipedia: namespace, where "how-to"s relevant to editing Wikipedia itself are appropriate, such as Wikipedia:How to draw a diagram with Dia. If you're interested in a how-to style manual, you may want to look at our sister project Wikibooks.
I believe this issue might be liability with publishing instructions and how-to's. However, there is no problem with providing an external link to a page that does give directions.LiPollis 22:05, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

To establish a description of what a daguerreotype is, it is necessary to state the process. How else would you define it from a collodion image on a front surfaced mirror or a photomechanical reproduction printed on a silvered metal surface. The description of the process is not intended as a how to, practical instructions for that would reach into pages of description, as it is a complicated process to execute. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Casedimage (talkcontribs) 11:00, 25 November 2013 (UTC)


I can't for the life of me understand why this article has been repeatedly singled out for vandalism both minor and major, but it has. If others with an interest in this artcile would keep an eye out, I'd be in your debt.LiPollis 18:13, 4 April 2007 (UTC)


How does a "positive-only process" allow "no reproduction"?
Can't one just directly image the positive onto another plate? Would a better wording for this section be something like, "requiring no reproduction"? I suppose that the positive nature of the image makes contrast adjustment a little more difficult. More explanation is necessary here or a link to an appropriate explanation on another page. Muskr 01:10, 31 May 2007 (UTC)
The Daguerreotype image is on the surface of a solid silver plate. You can't then contact print the image onto light-sensitive paper, like you could with a glass negative, because the plate is opaque. The only way to reproduce a Daguerreotype is to photograph the plate with a camera, and use the resulting negative to produce positive prints.Mytvc15 (talk) 08:02, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Daguerreotypes were reversed images unless taken with a mirror or prism in the camera. They were sometimes copied by photographing the daguerrotypes with a camera to reverse them again so they ended up the right way round. There is no difference in using an enlarging apparatus that is simply a camera to produce a print from a negative and copying daguerrotypes using a camera. The statement that a daguerreotype cannot be reproduced or copied is nonsense - and as the tintpe not being able to be copied because that was a positive produced in the camera is not true either. Kodachrome and Ektachrome are positives produced in the camera and they are copied (duplicated) by rephotographing them. Sorry, I cannot access the text to edit it. RPSM (talk) 19:49, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

Copy daguerreotypes were and can be made but there is a noticeable drop in image quality when not taken from nature. The inferior quality made them a lesser commercial option in the 19th century and even today they are readily recognisable to daguerreotype dealers , collectors and contemporary daguerreotypists — Preceding unsigned comment added by Casedimage (talkcontribs) 09:32, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Louis J.M. Daguerre[edit]

Was he a chemist? That's news to me. Even his wiki-page states he had no scientific background, and makes no mention of being a chemist. I think its a stretch to call him a chemist based on this discovery/refinement alone.... 17:30, 10 January 2008 (UTC)Surfbruddah

External links[edit]

Per the policy WP:NOT, please do not add private commercial sales sites to the links. Wikipedia is not a business directory. DurovaCharge! 20:01, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
You removal of the link is baffling to me, it is a non profit community website for contemporary makers of the daguerreotype of which there are only 65 in the world, much less if you only count the mercurial process. It couldn't be more relevant to this page, it contains many resources which specifically relate to the daguerreortpe process, rather than a social history of photography.

Relevant policy clauses:

Durova298 15:20, 11 August 2009 (UTC)


This seems a bit odd: " anonymous buyer paid 588,613 euros (792,000 USD) for an original 1839 camera made by Susse Frères (Susse brothers), Paris, at an auction in Vienna"

Even if we assume the oddness of the first figure is due to some kind of comission on top of the sale price, this doesn't make sense - it's very improbable it'd give a round figure in dollars at the end of it. The auction house itself quotes 576,000 including premium; the exchange rate in late May 2007 was around 1.345, which would make 576,000 EUR into ~775,000 USD.

I suspect the larger figure is a garbling by the Associated Press, who state "588,613 euros (792,000 dollars)" - my guess is that they got a bit confused doing the conversion into dollars, and ended up with the wrong "round" value, but I'm not sure how they inflated the price by about 2%. Since it seems safest to go with the information closest to source, I'm going to replace the figure in the article with the auctioneer's one - I just wanted to explain the working here, since the sources seem to support both! Shimgray | talk | 12:40, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

"The daguerreotype, along with the Tintype and Kodachrome ..."[edit]

"The daguerreotype, along with the Tintype, is a photographic image allowing no direct transfer of the image onto another light-sensitive medium, as opposed to glass plate or paper negatives."

along with Kodachrome Technicolor film and other postives produced in the camera (black and white reversal material)

No need to think that the neg-pos process is "normal" and the others "odd" RPSM (talk) 20:56, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

L’Atelier de l'artiste. An 1837 daguerreotype by Daguerre.

A daguerreotype (original French: daguerréotype) is an early type of photograph And Kodachrome is a late type of photograph?

developed by Jacques Daguerre, in which the image is exposed directly onto a mirror-polished surface of silver

Are other process exposed indirectly?

bearing a coating of silver halide particles deposited by iodine vapor.

The halides are iodine, bromine and chlorine. If they were all deposited by iodine vapor, all of them would be silver iodide crystals and none of the other two halides would be present.

In later developments bromine and chlorine vapors were also used, resulting in shorter exposure times.

This applies to the other silver processes - collodion wet plate and silver gelatine.

The daguerreotype is a negative image, but the mirrored surface of the metal plate reflects the image and makes it appear positive when the silvered surface has a dark ground reflected into it. Thus, daguerreotype is a direct photographic process without the capacity for duplication.

Thus nothing. Daguerretypes were copied in the camera. Today the digital copies show better quality than most other photographic processes.

If you see a positive image, it is postive. It is only negative when it looks negative. The image is an illusion. RPSM (talk) 20:34, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Question: First section, 6th paragraph[edit]

"When viewing the daguerreotype, a dak surface is reflected into the mirrored silver surface, and the reproduction of detail in sharp photographs is very good, partly because of the perfectly flat surface."

Should this be "a dark surface"? If not, what is a dak surface?

Quebec99 (talk) 21:08, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Interesting question. I googled "When viewing the daguerreotype, a dak surface is reflected" and got about 4 hits. I changed it to "dark" and got 2 more hits. Presumably all wikipedia mirrors (or parrots) and in 2 cases they apparently made that assumption and fixed it. So I'm going to change it, and maybe later check and see if any of the 4 also go from "dak" to "dark". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:16, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
It was supposed to be "dark". The "dak" was a bit of vandalism introduced on May 2 by this one-shot IP:[1]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:30, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
Is the first sentence in this supposed to be the first successful photographic process? It just says that it is the successful one, which I suppose I'd be hard pressed to dispute, but still. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:46, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

30ºC ≠ 90ºF[edit]

What is the correct temperature to use to develop a daguerreotype? Is it 30ºC (86ºF) or 90ºF (32.22ºC)? They sure are not equal. (talk) 08:43, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

Amalgam controversy[edit]

Although the Daguerreotype image has long been regarded as a silver-mercury amalgam, with the disappearance of the image when sufficiently heated traditionally offered as evidence, there is considerable debate about this among researchers today (no time to spare for tracking down the refs, which is why I am writing here rather than editing). A compelling piece of evidence offered in opposition, and available since 1840, is the reality of Becquerel development, in which the image is developed by exposure to strong red light rather than mercury fumes. Used by many present-day Daguerreotypists for obvious safety reasons, it was known but almost never used during the heyday of the process. The point is, no mercury, so no amalgam, yet a visually similar result. Some believe that the mercury fumes must be regarded as a catalyst rather than an ingredient of the image, only causing the microscopic drop-like silver image elements to coalesce or grow out of the surface and not being an essential part of them. This controversy needs to be reflected in the article, which presently provides only several repetitions of the received wisdom on the matter. AVarchaeologist (talk) 00:29, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

P.S. Most of this article is a major mess. Is there no one out there to whip it into shape? The lead, in particular, needs to be overhauled to provide a quick explanation of what a Daguerreotype is, and especially of how to distinguish one from other cased images (a visual supplement showing one reflecting light and dark surfaces might be helpful), for that is the information the average user will be needing. As it is, they must wade through asphaltum and lavender oil and then pass through Chevalier and Petzval lenses, possibly emerging from the small end hardly any the wiser, or more able to tell the old paper snapshot that someone swapped into the pretty little case from an actual Daguerreotype. I am sure that there are several editors more qualified than I am on this subject, and I am trying to save myself for more arcane photographic topics about which I have some apparently much less common specialist knowledge. The Daguerreotype marked the birth of practical photography and it would be hard to overestimate the importance of this article in the category of photographic history. AVarchaeologist (talk) 01:23, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

(See the following section for more regarding the amalgam question) AVarchaeologist (talk) 17:58, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

I will agree, the article is a mess.842U (talk) 22:18, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

References (links)[edit]

Here is a reference that says the light parts of the image are silver amalgam, and the dark parts silver iodide: [2] and that the image was a negative and a positive at the same time, depending on which way you angled the plate. And here:

A Thumbnail History of the Daguerreotype (Kenneth E Nelson) RPSM (talk) 16:20, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

As this appears to be in response to the "Amalgam controversy" section I started above: indeed, the highlight areas of a Daguerreotype are almost inevitably described as a silver-mercury amalgam. That establishes the conventional wisdom, but it does nothing to establish scientific fact. It is surprising and disappointing that the website of the highly respectable Daguerreian Society is aiding and abetting the propagation of this traditional bit of received truth in the light of current knowledge. See [3] for some honest-to-gosh science about the structure of the image according to present-day understanding. And, to repeat, there is the powerful 160-year-old evidence provided by Becquerel development, which uses no mercury and so obviously cannot create an amalgam, yet produces visually similar results. As to the dark parts being silver iodide (or "iodine silver" as the ill-informed author of the first reference cited puts it), that might be said of a Daguerreotype which has been developed but not "fixed" with hypo (sodium thiosulfate) in the usual way, but the whole purpose of "fixing" is to remove any remaining silver iodide or other light-sensitive silver salts so as to render the surface of the finished image insensitive to light. There is no silver iodide remaining on any normally processed Daguerreotype. The dark areas are represented by smooth silver and only appear dark when a relatively dark surface is reflected in them. When a relatively bright surface, such as a sheet of white paper, is being reflected instead, the image appears as a negative because the frosty highlight areas reflect less light to the eye than the specular smooth areas. The image is very much like a scuff on a piece of chrome-plated car hardware: the scuff can appear either light or dark depending on the background and the lighting conditions. A brief in-person inspection of any reasonably untarnished Daguerreotype should make this plain. Misinformation about early photographic technology abounds online, and most egregiously on sites primarily devoted to some other subject (e.g., Nathaniel Hawthorne in the first-cited example). Print sources are certainly not immune to error, but a specialized book such as the last-cited one, or even a substantial chapter on Daguerreotypes in a general book on the history of photography, is likely to be a far more reliable source than a typical website with nth generation and variously garbled "information". AVarchaeologist (talk) 17:19, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

Were there gutta percha daguerreotype cases?[edit]

[4] There is a note in the history that Daguerreotype cases were NEVER gutta percha. Will investigate. [5]RPSM (talk) 13:57, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

A good point. Very probably, the common description of the material as "gutta percha" is another instance of erroneous conventional wisdom that needs to be demolished. The authoritative print source appears to be Union Cases: A Collector's Guide to the Art of America's First Plastics, a book to which I do not have access, but the claim accords with statements I now dimly recall seeing in print years ago. Perhaps the word "thermoplastic" could be used as a cheat to encompass both gutta percha and shellac-based compounds pending further (non-original) research? AVarchaeologist (talk) 10:15, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

"Union" cases which were late in the daguerreian period were made of thermoplastic resin - shellac and sawdust heated and pressed into a mold. Indeed these vases were never made of Gutta Percha which is a rubber like substance, the notion of it comes from mis-information on ebay. See Paul Berg's book on the history of daguerreotype cases. Most daguerreotype cases were wooden structures covered in leather , but also embossed paper, shell, velvet, even painted wood. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Casedimage (talkcontribs) 09:19, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the confirmation. Naturally, cases other than Union cases are self-evidently neither gutta percha nor a shellac-based thermoplastic. The common error can't be blamed on eBay, though—it has been around for many decades longer. Vintage gutta percha is a dark brownish or blackish hard material resembling the very hard rubber of an old plate or cut film developing tank (at least, old specimens of gutta percha are quite hard now—perhaps it was more pliable when new?) rather than anything the word "rubber" is likely to bring to mind, so the error is not as foolish as it may seem. AVarchaeologist (talk) 06:37, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

Something wrong with Page rendering[edit]

Footnote section-Advertisement Image-Further reading section shows a bad rendering.

Any body to correct it ??

I've seen it recently in few other pages also. (May be wiki dev team did made some changes)

Seen it in Google Chrome 13.0.782 & Firefox 6.0

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:17, 19 August 2011 (UTC) 


Repetitive introduction. Lots of material is redundant — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:46, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Agree RPSM (talk) 11:55, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
I will see if I have time to make a drastic edit of the whole article so the same information is not repeatedly paraphrased the whole time. RPSM (talk) 11:55, 20 December 2011 (UTC)

The first photograph[edit]

I have added to the links section a link to the first photograph, now at the University of Austin. Daguerre did not make it. RPSM (talk) 16:23, 22 December 2011 (UTC)

Section "Daguerrotype Process" must go[edit]


To establish a description of what a daguerreotype is, it is necessary to state the process. How else would you define it from a collodion image on a front surfaced mirror or a photomechanical reproduction printed on a silvered metal surface. The description of the process is not intended as a how to, practical instructions for that would reach into pages of description, as it is a complicated process to execute. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Casedimage (talkcontribs) 11:01, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

What the hell?[edit]

Why would somebody complain about the "Daguerreotype process" section, and put their complaints in the article text, without just making the revisions themselves? Makes no sense. Somebody needs to tell that guy that's not how Wikipedia works. Sadly, I'm not a daguerreotype expert or I'd fix it myself. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:45, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

Daguerreotypes - nudes and pornography[edit]

Very soon after the daguerrotype process was invented it was used for studies of the female figure, as well as for pornography.Daguerreotype nudes, and police. How to mention this in the article without giving undue offence? RPSM (talk) 14:43, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Useful links[edit]

Pioneers of Photography RPSM (talk) 19:06, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

For a Daguerreotypist permanently located the independent iron head-rest, B fig. 19, is the most preferable, principally on account of its solidity. It is entirely of iron, is supported by a tripod (a) of the same metal and can be elevated by means of a rod (b) passing through the body of the tripod, to a height sufficient for a person, standing, to rest against.

Daguerreotype head rest

Early photographic processes (for reference)[edit]

Omaha native americans - delegation - 1850 including a copy daguerreotype: for use later in article[edit]


1848 Cincinnati Waterfront Panorama Daguerreotype series showing sharp detail and long tonal range (for use later)[edit]

"THIS WEBSITE is a digitalized version of articles published in Nebraska History vol. 78(3), 116-121 ( and The Daguerreian Annual 1997, 146-158 ( revised. The articles have not been digitized by either of these publications." (above web address)


The nanotechnology of the daguerreotype - including view of Cincinnati Waterfront Panorama (daguerreotype):-

Dates when daguerreotypes were produced (heyday 1845 - 1855, but still produced in the 1860s):-

RPSM (talk) 14:13, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Note on exposure times for daguerreotypes[edit]

Report (of the Commission of the Chamber of Deputies (the Commission was appointed by the King and was a joint commission, composed of members of the Chamber of Peers, headed by Gay-Lussac, and members of the Chamber of Deputies, headed by Arago. Arago, an astronomer, and Deputy of the East-Pyrénées, presented his report in the French Chamber of Deputies on July 3, 1839. The bill was to grant to M. Daguerre an annual and life pension of 6,000 francs and, second, the the son of M. Niépce, an annual life pension of 4,000 frqancs for the assignment to teh State of their process for the fixation of images obtained in the camera obscura. (to be continued) RPSM (talk) 02:09, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

I have copied the section "Demise" here. Far too many serious errors and false information to be retained in the article[edit]

==Demise== (deleted section - reproduced here and criticism) The intricate, complex, labor-intensive daguerreotype process itself helped contribute to the rapid move to the ambrotype and tintype. The proliferation of these simpler and much less expensive photographic processes made the costly daguerreotypes less appealing to the average person (although it remained very popular in astronomical observatories until the invention of glass plate cameras). According to Mace (1999), the rigidity of these images stems more from the seriousness of the activity than a long exposure time, which he says was actually only a few seconds (Early Photographs, p. 21). The daguerreotype's lack of a negative image from which multiple positive "prints" could be made was a limitation also shared by the tintype, but was not a factor in the daguerreotype's demise until the introduction of the wet plate photographic process. The fact that some of those to use the process suffered severe health problems or even death from mercury poisoning after inhaling toxic vapors created during the heating process also contributed to its falling out of favor with photographers.[1] Unlike film and paper photography, however, a properly sealed daguerreotype can potentially last indefinitely.

The daguerreotype's popularity was not threatened until photography was used to make imitation daguerreotypes on glass positives called ambrotypes, meaning "imperishable picture" (Newhall, 107).[2]

I make visible criticism embedded into the text:

The calotype was introduced in the early 1840s, the daguerreotype fell from being the most popular form of photography in the mid 1850's. The negative positive process that came to prominence after the daguerreotype's supremacy was the wet plate negative and albumen print. To say the daguerreotype's demise was brought on by the calotype is misleading and obviously false. The calotype never had widespread popularity across the globe as the daguerreotype did. Newhall [2] estimated that in America alone there were 40 million daguerreotypes made in the daguerreian period, some daguerreotypists suffered ill health form chemical exposure but not the majority or "many".\>

After years of reading on dageurreotypy and other early photographic processes I don't think it can be said that the inability to reproduce the image due to the absence of a negative was the "perhaps most importantly" factor in the daguerreotype's demise, as stated in the previous version of this article. The main evidence being that neither tintypes nor ambrotypes had negatives and could not be reproduced either, yet they supplanted dageurreotypy! By the end of the 19th century, the Calotype/Albumen print process had replaced all previous contenders, none of which used a negative/positive process --- James Arbogahst --> The daguerreotype's popularity was not threatened until photography was used to make imitation daguerreotypes on glass positives called ambrotypes, meaning "imperishable picture" (Newhall, 107).[2]

There was no demise of the daguerreotype as there was of, for example, the Kodak Dye Transfer Process which stopped when Kodak stopped making the Matrix film for it. Materials to make daguerreotypes have always been available, many workers, commercial and hobbyists worked with several early processes and not all were recorded or documented and, of course, the daguerreotype is being produced today, including as a medium for holograms. The term "demise" is inappropriate.

The reference quoted (Newhall) is not really an expert account of photographic processes, more a sort of blog about collecting daguerreotypes (the affordable ones) and has the following amusing review at Amazon:

One word is worth a thousand pictures: Awful, 21 Jun 1997 By A Customer This review is from: Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs (Paperback) The title would lead you to believe that those photos you found in the family bible may more easily be identified after reading this book. Think again. There is only one chapter, Chapter Three, that even comes close to delivering on its promise, i.e., "Dating Photographs: Clues to Identification." But even then, this chapter, like the others, is crammed with such drivel as "..a photo taken in America in 1885 cannot possibly be that of an ancestor who did not arrive until 1900." What? And another: "When you present photographs to relatives for identification purposes, you will be confronted with one of two situations. Your relatives either will or will not recognize the faces in the photos." No, I am not kidding. This is really the advice that is offered. The book is padded out with chapters such as "The First Step: Identifying the Family" and "Public Sources of Information." In a word, Awful. RPSM (talk) 10:31, 7 July 2013 (UTC)


  1. ^ Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs, p. 126. 1991. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  2. ^ a b c Cite error: The named reference Newhall was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

Lots of waffle in the article is plain wrong[edit]

The daguerreotype had a short life of twenty years in Europe, while in the US the process was used up until 1900. As proof are these daguerreotypes recently discovered taken in Gurley, Alabama in the 1890s (although dating these is done by Gurley Lion's club without any reference to a historian.)

As a result, a large portion of the article can be erased that is a) conjecture and b) wrong. RPSM (talk) 20:23, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Consider the source, please. Is the Gurley Lions Club likely to be a reliable source for expert information about daguerreotypes? Although it is often impossible to be certain from a reproduction whether a particular image is or is not a daguerreotype, in this case there is no room for reasonable doubt. The text makes it clear that the images are on metal rather than paper, but the paper mats seen framing several of them make it equally clear that the metal is iron (a useful tip for inquiring Gurley Lions: iron is attracted by a magnet, copper and silver are not) and that they are in fact tintypes. Compare, for example, the typical paper tintype mat framing the image currently at the top of the WP tintype article. In continental Europe, daguerreotypes were framed with a fairly thick passepartout cardboard mat under glass, but such alien practices were nearly unheard-of in the US, where gilt brass metal mats were standard. Because a daguerreotype's surface is easily and permanently marred by the slightest friction, they were not handed over to the client "raw" without a protective cover glass, and certainly not shoved into a slip-in paper or cardboard mat. I am the editor responsible for most (all?) of the text and cits about daguerreotypes made between the 1860s and the late 20th century revival. It seems very probable that someone somewhere made at least one daguerreotype in any given calendar year since the 1830s. But perhaps I should have made it plainer that even examples from as late as the mid-1860s are very rare. Examples from the 1870s and 1880s are practically unknown. Apart from a couple of astronomical images, I have never seen one reproduced. Were it not for decent documentation in print, such as the items now cited in the article, it would be very easy to dismiss any making of daguerreotypes between the 1860s and the 1950s as a myth. AVarchaeologist (talk) 01:18, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

The Antwerp Photography Museum has an article on daguerreotypy that states:

Even before Daguerre’s manual was translated and the first camera’s and supplies¨were made available in Paris, many set out to produce an image using ‘self-made’ cameras and chemical concoctions. The spread of this revolutionary medium was relatively rapid. By 1839 or early 1840, the process had already been introduced in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany. Samuel Morse, the inventor of the Morse Code, introduced the medium in the United States in 1839. The daguerreotype was greeted with much enthusiasm and enjoyed a longer life (up to 1900) than in Europe.

RPSM (talk) 04:35, 10 July 2013 (UTC)

See comments inserted above. Although not absolutely extinct, exceedingly rare after the mid-1860s. Reliably dated later 19th century examples are virtually unknown today. AVarchaeologist (talk) 01:18, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
P.S. A very explicit statement about the extreme rarity of very late examples has now been added to the article. AVarchaeologist (talk) 13:08, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

This must be wrong[edit]

In 1829 French artist and chemist Louis Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, contributing a cutting edge camera design, partnered with Niépce, a leader in photochemistry, to further develop their technologies.

1) Daguerre was not a chemist, he was a trompe l'oeil theatrical scene painter (at least as far as trompe-l'oeil painting is stock- in-trade of theatrical stage painters).

2) Daguerre's camera was not cutting edge.

3) Daguerre never designed a camera.

4) Niépce was not a leader in photochemistry - perhaps a forerunner or early experimenter of one phenomenon. he invented an internal combustion engine and heliography, but photochemistry had not yet been developed.

5) The first patent in the world for a photographic camera was grantted in the US to Wolcott for his mirror camera. It was also known as Beard's camera because Beard, originally a coal merchant, took out patent rights for it in England. For a short time - up until the introduction of the Petzval lens, it was the leading technology used to obtain a brighter picture in the camera. RPSM (talk) 00:10, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

I would agree that the quoted sentence goes over the top by framing things in modern terms that could easily leave the reader with a mistaken impression, but although it ought to be rewritten (or deleted if redundant) it is in essence factually correct. The problem seems to be mainly one of early 19th century vs early 21st century meanings. Daguerre was already a chemist before his partnership with Niépce in that he was experimenting with various phosphorescent substances that lent some persistence to camera images, and that would have qualified him as "a chemist" by the standards of the time, which did not require a university degree or paid employment in the field to merit the description. The "cutting edge" camera was due mostly to Chevalier, but IIRC it was optically superior to the camera Niépce had been using and "cutting edge" in the sense that there was probably nothing better out there at the time. Although there was no discrete science of photochemistry in the 1830s, it would be hard to deny that the experiments of both Niépce ("a leader" during the 1820s by default at least) and Daguerre were within the field that would later be given that name. AVarchaeologist (talk) 16:14, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

The Daguerreotype in Europe and America after 1860 Grant B Romer[edit]

The above article appears to state that production of daguerreotypes persisted later that 1860 but I don't have access to the full article.

The Daguerreotypist in Europe and America after 1860

The illustration at the top of the article is a self-portrait made in the 1890s in the Met and in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts are three more portraits of the same man and one of his son - all daguerreotypes made in the 1890s.

The article was made available on line 1 October 2013 - re looking for solid evidence of the daguerreotype persisting post 1860 RPSM (talk) 03:45, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for adding that link. I have long been aware of the article but have never had any access to it. The first page is better than nothing, and it is gratifying to finally see one of the late Hawes dags mentioned in the 1896 article I added as a cit a couple of years ago. I've just added Romer's article as a cit and toned down the rather overwrought disclaimer that I recently tagged on (see "Lots of waffle..." section above).
I must say, though, that Romer is guilty of a bit of reckless wording which implies, at least within the context of that one available page, that the process was in some sense "commonly used" in the US after its general abandonment in the 1860s. We are still talking about an extremely tiny fraction of one percent of later photographs. I would be surprised if even one in a hundred thousand of the countless millions of photos made in the US between 1870 and 1900 was a daguerreotype. One in a million is probably more like it. If it were otherwise, then there would be more surviving examples.
For a sense of the daguerreotype's widespread marginalization in the US by the end of 1861, see this contemporary article [7]. Despite the rosy hopes it expresses that the daguerreotype might regain its former standing, in fact it simply continued to lose ground and the 19th century literature after that date is usually just retrospective.
User Casedimage, who could do us all a favor by editing more actively, noted in one of the sections above that it would be difficult by a description of its appearance alone to differentiate between a daguerreotype and, for example, "a collodion image on a front surfaced mirror". Those words served to remind me of the possibility that some of the very late daguerreotypes, such as the ones mentioned in the 1929 article, may in fact have been pseudo-daguerreotypes: by creating what is essentially a tintype on a sheet of metal polished to a mirror finish rather than blackened, an imitation good enough for novelty purposes could be produced, complete with the characteristic negative-positive ambiguity. AVarchaeologist (talk) 14:03, 5 January 2014 (UTC)
P.S. As it turns out, images of the circa 1890 Hawes self-portrait shown on the first page of Romer's article, and another apparently from the same session, have been available at Wikimedia Commons since late 2009: [8] [9]. Another web gleaning is that the purveyor of a ready-made gelatin emulsion for latter-day tintype-making also promotes its use for just the sort of faux daugerreotypes imagined above. AVarchaeologist (talk) 22:08, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Draft for lead to try and give a simple direct explanation of what Daguerre invented[edit]

I am putting this past you for you to ok. Under "Invention":-

The invention of the daguerreotype - the earlest photographic process to be commonly used the world over - consisted of finding a way to make a permanent record of the virtual image produced in a camera obscura (what today, we call a photographic camera). In other words to make a picture of anything that could be seen on the viewing screen of a dark box fitted with a lens. The picture was formed on a silvered metal plate, the image sitting directly on the metal surface being comprised of microscopic silver particles.

When the operator was skilful, and the plate correctly exposed and in focus, very sharp detail something something ... RPSM (talk) 03:41, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

I'm suffering from some presumably short-term burnout in connection with this article and not up for the task of helping to whip it into better shape right now, except to suggest that what it most needs at this point (excluding the bulldozer approach, which is sometimes the only practical way to deal with such a tangled mess) is organization of all the scattered bits and pieces and the purging of duplications, tangents, and sweeping epic narration (e.g., "Since the late Renaissance ... influenced Western art ... the advent of Modernism ..." etc). AVarchaeologist (talk) 06:20, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

An odd misconception[edit]

The article has now been rid of the following fallacy:

"A reduction in camera size and the size of the image always results in more light reaching the image plane and consequently reduced exposure times."

I've seen a similar statement somewhere online in connection with Talbot's early experiments: that he had the insight to realize a smaller camera would produce a brighter image and reduce the exposure time, hence his famous little "mousetrap" cameras. As I recall, it was on a photography-specialist site, which made such a fundamental error truly shocking.

Photography 101: the exposure time required depends on the lighting conditions, the sensitivity of the medium, and the lens aperture expressed as its working focal length divided by its diameter (or the diameter of its entrance pupil if a diaphragm is used), a number known as its f-number (or the f-stop, if referring to the diaphragm). A two-inch-diameter lens with an eight-inch focal length and a one-inch-diameter lens with a four-inch focal length are both f/4. The required exposure will be the same, safely ignoring the trivial additional absorption of light by the greater thickness of glass in the larger lens. Scaling a camera and lens up or down changes the size of the image but has only that negligible effect on its brightness.

The relevant advantage of using a smaller camera with a smaller image is that it makes a very "fast" lens with a low f-number more physically practical. For an extreme example, imagine the typical highly corrected multi-element f/1.8 or f/1.4 "normal" 50 mm focal length lens of a late 20th century 35 mm SLR camera scaled up to produce an eight-inch-high image instead of a one-inch-high image. It would require 8x8x8=512 times as much optical-quality glass and manufacturing such a lens would be a daunting project akin to making several large refracting telescope lenses. It would be impractically heavy and unwieldy and cost as much as a house. AVarchaeologist (talk) 06:20, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Late and modern use[edit]

Although the daguerreotype process is usually said to have died out completely in the early 1860s, documentary evidence indicates that some very slight use of it persisted more or less continuously throughout the following 150 years of its supposed extinction.[1] A few first-generation daguerreotypists refused to entirely abandon their beautiful old medium when they started making the new, cheaper, easier to view but comparatively drab ambrotypes and tintypes.[2] Historically-minded photographers of subsequent generations, often fascinated by daguerreotypes, sometimes experimented with making their own or even revived the process commercially as a "retro" portraiture option for their clients.[3][4] These eccentric late uses were extremely unusual and surviving examples reliably dated to between the 1860s and the 1960s are now exceedingly rare.[5]

The above section should go entirely. 1) Southworth and Hawes's studion closed in 1863, so what is the point in pointing out that in one article that they remained loyal to the old process? Cartes de visites from wet plate negatives sold for one twelfth the price of a daguerreotype, and could be kept in albums. Exposures had become shorter, and repeat copies could be made. The process died out as shellac 78 rpm gramophone records did. The text contradicts itself by starting to insist that it was not replaced around 1860 and then qualifying this by saying that revivals by individuals were unknown and rare.

As for documentary evidence indicates that some very slight use of it persisted more or less continuously throughout the following 150 years of its supposed extinction. where is this documentary evidence - not in the reference quoted which is these very words with no evidence to back it up. The fact is that the earliest photographic process with its long exposures, cast iron head rests and daylight studios with blue tinted glass ended with only tiny sporadic revivals not worth mentioning. Therefore the whole paragraph should be deleted. RPSM (talk) 14:46, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

Are you prepared to delete the entire subsection and irrationally consign all uses of the process after the early 1860s to oblivion? If only material about "modern" daguerreotypists is to be retained and all else excluded, what shall be the magic cutoff date or the critical number of simultaneous practitioners required to make the phenomenon noteworthy? One of the "moderns" has been making daguerreotypes on and off since 1958, but back in the Eisenhower era he was a very lonely (although not unique) daguerreotypist. So, the 1950s -- in or out? If in, then on what rational basis can the reported practitioner in the late 1920s (cit #6), barely thirty years earlier, be excluded? Or the unnamed practitioner (in addition to Hawes) who was making daguerreotypes on recycled plates thirty years before that, in the 1890s (cit #5)? How about uses for scientific photography (even when on a glass plate, emulsions slightly contract as the result of processing, so daguerreotypes provided the ultimate in dimensional stability), alluded to elsewhere in the article, back in the 1870s and 1880s? If the cited sample evidence of a pattern of slight but persistent ongoing use is inadequate to satisfy you, then by all means track down the remaining eleven pages of Grant Romer's 1977 article, as that is his subject and he probably provides a number of additional examples. In the meanwhile, contemplate the statement by an expert (cit #3) that "... the daguerreotype as a commercial process rapidly disappeared. There is strong evidence, however, that this most beautiful of photographic processes has continuously been practiced since its heyday, first by a persistent few of the original daguerreians who refused to give it up, then by others who learned anew from the period books and journals. This tradition continues through the present day." The paragraph you want to annihilate says very much the same thing as that expert, but in my own written-off-the-cuff different (and therefore non-copyvio) language.
Your aversion to this material thoroughly mystifies me, but it must be very substantial: first you insisted that it underreports the amount of late use, now you not only claim the exact opposite but see contradictions where there are none and even bizarrely misquote what is right there in black and white above your comments -- where, for example, do you find a statement that "revivals by individuals were unknown [!] and rare"? By the way, if you believe "long exposures, cast iron head rests and daylight studios with blue tinted glass ended" with the general commercial demise of the daguerreotype, you have bought into a common error spread by sloppy reporting and assumptions. By the late 1850s, fast lenses and the refinement of multiple halogen sensitization had reduced exposure times in a brightly lit studio to a few seconds. Wet plate negative, ambrotype and tintype exposures were about the same and the headrests remained. The advantages of the collodion processes were much lower cost and more convenient and easily viewed results. Unsteady-subject-resistant "instantaneous" exposures only became possible with the advent of ripened emulsion gelatin dry plates at the end of the 1870s (and magnesium powder flash photography, when necessary, in the mid-1880s) and it took some years for those to come into general use.
The reviled quantum of text is one of the most abundantly and respectably cited paragraphs in the article. It is plainly of special relevance to this article and extremely relevant to the topic of the subsection. There is no other WP article where it would more logically be located. AFAIK, it is all factually correct. Although it may be of nil or negative value to you, I have no doubt that a significant number of readers (meaning non-editing and daguerreotype-uninitiated "civilians", the inquiring readers we are supposed to be writing for) will find it an interesting and informative segue into and contextualization of the material about modern daguerreotypy that follows it. No valid basis for removing it is apparent. AVarchaeologist (talk) 14:00, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Seems reasonable to me. Reading it through again, seems ok. RPSM (talk) 02:16, 28 September 2014 (UTC)


  1. ^ Nelson, Kenneth E. (1996). "A Thumbnail History of the Daguerreotype"
  2. ^ Davis, D.T. (November 1896). "The Daguerreotype in America" McClure's Magazine 8(1):4-16. Near the end of the article, the author notes that the venerable Mr. Hawes, of Southworth and Hawes, has "a number of daguerreotypes made recently, for he is one of the few operators who remain loyal to the old process". Available online from the Daguerreian society
  3. ^ Tennant, John A. (August 1902). "Copying methods" The Photo-Miniature 4(41):201 et seq. See page 202 for mention of new daguerreotypes being made circa the 1890s by recycling old plates. (Selected text available online from The Daguerreian Society)
  4. ^ Cannon, Poppy. (June 1929). "An Old Art Revived" The Mentor 17(5):36–37 Available online from The Daguerreian Society
  5. ^ Romer, Grant B. (July 1977). "The Daguerreotype in America and England after 1860". History of Photography, 1(3):201 et seq.

Victorian parents keeping their children still shrouded in curtains[edit]

Victorian parents holding their babies still shrouded in curtains RPSM (talk) 21:45, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

1904 Daguerreotype revival[edit] RPSM (talk) 22:12, 12 September 2014 (UTC)

Story about broken thermometer alternatively a bowl of mercury leading to "accidental" discovery of mercury development not regarded as reliable.[edit]

  • A fortunate accident led to the discovery of the development of the photographic impression by means of the vapor of mercury. Previous to this discovery, the image was brought out by a long continued exposure in the camera. Daguerre on one occasion placed some under-exposed plates, which were considered useless, in a closet in which there were chemicals. Afterward, happening to look at the plates, he was astonished to find an image upon them. After taking one chemical after another from the closet until apparently all were removed, the images on his plates were still mysteriously developed. At length he discovered on the floor an overlooked dish of mercury, and the mystery was solved. He ascertained that the effects produced by the mercury vapor spontaneously given off could be secured at will by suitable apparatus.

(Transcriber's note: This anecdote of Daguerre's discovery of mercury development is generally considered spurious by modern photo-historians. --Gary W. Ewer, 1995)

Eder has the story History of Photography: p 227) and gives as references (Liebig, Cornhill Magazine XII, 303 and Vogel's Lehrbuch der Photographie 1878, p.4) neither of which are from Daguerre himself. I cannot trace the Cornhill Magazine reference on the net.

An alternative story is that it was not a dish of mercury, but a broken thermometer. which we have in the article. Both are in several books and on theinternet. If the story is true, there wouldn't be two versions of it. RPSM (talk)

Who did what when[edit]

In 1829 French artist and chemist Louis Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, contributing a cutting edge camera design, partnered with Niépce, a leader in photochemistry, to further develop their technologies. The two men came into contact through their optician, Chevalier, who supplied lenses for their camerae obscurae.

The invention of photography was in two stages:- firstly the development of the camera obscura, that was in the form of a biconvex lens replacing the pinhole already in 1569: The Italian, Daniele Barbaro (1513-70), suggested adding an old man's spectacle lens (this is a biconvex lens prescribed for correcting long-sightedness), to be placed in the pinhole, in order to sharpen the focus of the image. (La Practtica della Perspecttiva, Barbaro, Venice, Italy. 1569.Ch.5.p.192), so it is not correct to say that Mandé Daguerre's camera was "cutting edge". It was a camera obscura that had been around since 1569 or thereabouts. Helmut Gernsheim points out somewhere here, I think that the development of the invention of photography remained static for two-hundred-and-seventy years waiting for a way to chemically fix the image.

The only adaption that was made was a convenient way to make the camera light tight and to insert and remove photo-sensitive material. The basic design of the camera - especially in the form with a lens, mirror and ground glass screen was practically identical to large single lens reflex cameras of the 1930s as Gernsheim points out.

It was not Niépce who provided the chemistry and Daguerre the camera. Daguerre was the one to discover siver iodide as a photosensitve material and mercury development. RPSM (talk) 03:20, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

First daguerreotype was burned and lost (Eder)[edit]

The Telegraph published L'atelier de l'artiste as the first surviving daguerreotype image. The Guardian had it as pictures from the past and said It is thought to be the first daguerreotype to be produced using the process of exposure, development and fixation.

The reference given to the picture caption (Carlisle, Rodney P. Scientific American Inventions and Discoveries: All the Milestones in Ingenuity—From the Discovery of Fire to the Invention of the Microwave Oven. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004 is on the internet here

and what the book actually says is "His first successful picture with his improved procedure , a still life, was completed in 1837 and presented to the curator of the Louvre." (The improved procedure was mercury development). The material is not quoted from the Carlisle: it is quoted from the Guardian. Body text of article has same text as Guardian, but gives Carlisle as refer

Both The Telegraph and Carlisle repeat the spurious broken thermometer story.

From Eder: History of Photography:

Chapter XXVII

DURING THIS WHOLE PERIOD Daguerre resided in Paris. Until 1839 he lived at 15 Rue de Marais, the premises of the diorama from which he derived his income. In 1839 the house was burned to the ground, and with it the irreplaceable first results of Daguerre's work. Among these was the experimental picture which Daguerre made with Arago in order to instruct the latter in the method and importance of his invention. RPSM (talk) 01:54, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

British photo-history researchers discussion about Beard's Irish, Scottish and Colonial patents[edit]

Discussion: research into Beard's/Miles Berry's daguerreotype patents RPSM (talk) 18:12, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

Quotes from The Silver Canvas has footnote 31 (Chapter One) citing 1971 publication of letters documenting daguerreotype seen made in 1835[edit]

Writing on August 4, 1835, Daguerre pointed out that he had begun research on his new process as early as 1833, which had resulted in an exposure time sixty times faster than the old Niepce method. We have few details of these steps, for although Daguerre mentioned these and other accomplishments in letters to Isidore, he did not give any details about how these breakthroughs were realized.

From the evidence of other commentators, however, it is clear that by 1835 Daguerre had, indeed, produced images similar to those that would be hailed in 1839. When, for example, the Paris correspondent of the London periodical The Athenaeum reported in January 1839 about the invention, he commented that Daguerre's current images were better than those he had seen four years earlier. As Daguerre apparently also shared his work with a few friends, news of this amazing discovery began to circulate in the ateliers and salons around Paris, resulting in a notice in the September 27,1835, issue of the Journal des Artistes.

It was also in 1837 that Daguerre felt sufficiently confident of his work to present to the chief curator at the Louvre a still-life composition bearing an inscription on the back identifying it as proof of his discovery (Figure 8)

The following year, in September 1836, the father of Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc wrote his son that a friend told him of seeing a work by Daguerre taken frm atop the Diorama showing the hills of Montmartre one and one-half miles away. With only a weak magnifying glass, he wrote, it was possible to distinguish among the windmills on the hill the one serving as the telegraph tower, despite the fact that it measured only about three-quarters of an inch on the plate. . . . The letter concluded the description by adding that Daguerre's new device contained such minuscule details it could not possibly have been produced by an artist.

Alll of the above taken from The Silver Canvas footnote 31 to Chapter One gives source for above statement:-

This little known description is the most detailed evidence proving that by early winter 1836 Daguerre already had been able to produce a view that could be examined by others and that was clear enough to show minute details. See Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, Lettres de Italic: 1836-1837 addressee a sa famille (Paris: L. Laget, 1971), 165.

The still life illustrated is only one of several surviving, but it is unlikely that the one with the best composition and lighting was the first.

The question of when the first daguerreotype was produced quite rightly occupies photohistorians (as opposed to the public announcement of the process. It is discussed in The Silver Canvas now added to Links. RPSM (talk) 16:26, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

Pierre G Harmant: 1921 - 1995 "Too many legends and traditional stories obscure the History of Photography..."[edit]

‘Some thoughts on the World’s First Photograph’, by Pierre G. Harmant and Paul Marillier [son–in–law of PGH], The Photographic Journal (London: RPS), April 1967, Vol. 107 (4), 130–40. In particular this is a study of the building, and of a model, to reconstruct the conditions in which Niépce obtained his “first successful experiment in fixing permanently this image from nature” probably done, from Harmant’s analysis of Niépce’s letters, between 4 June and 18 July 1827. The first sentence of his abstract to this article can serve as PG H’s credo for all his work – “ Too many legends and traditional stories obscure the History of Photography, and it seems necessary to make an effort to establish the truth, simply by studying the documents themselves and not only second–hand information”. RPSM (talk) 03:36, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

A similar complaint is to be found in the first footnote in Bates Lowry and Elizabeth Barret Lowry's The Silver Canvas:

1. Any account of the life and word of Daguerre is dependent , first of all,upon the book originally published in 1956 by Helmut and Alison Gernsheim. L.J.M.Daguerre: the History of the Diorama and the Daguerreotype, ad rev. ed. (New York: Dover Publications 1968). Amazingly, for over forty years this presentation has remained the only publication in any language to give a comprehensive treatment of Daguerre's work. It is limited in its contribution, however, because their account of Daguerre's life is drawn solely from earlier secondary publications which in themselves are based on traditional tales handed down by Daguerre's contemporaries and their immediate descendants. The most reliable of these earlier accounts is that of Paul Carpentier, Notice sur Daguerre (Paris, Bonaventure et Ducessois 1895) whose accuracy earned the congratulations of Daguerre's widow. The most cautious review of facts about Daguerre's early life is contained in Georges Potoniée. Histoire de la découverte de la photographie (1925, reprint of 1936 English translation, New York Arno Press 1973). An excellent brief summary of Daguerre's life and work is given in Beaumont Newhall's introduction to the republication of Daguerre's original 1839 manuals in both English and French in L.J.M.Daguerre, An historical and descriptive account of the various processes of the daguerreotype and the Diorama (New York: Winter House, 1971) 1 - 25. Michel Frizot, in 1839: La Photograpohie révelée (Paris: Centre national de la photographie 1989) 27, deplored the lack of attention scholars paid to Daguerre, and gave as an indication of this situation the fact that the Gernsheims' book had yet to be translated into French. RPSM (talk) 03:43, 19 January 2015 (UTC)


Scientific Adjudication COURT OF QUEEN'S BENCH BEFORE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE DENMAN. June 25, 1842. BERRY v. CLAUDET The London Journal of Arts and Sciences, and Repertory of Patent Inventions edited by William Newton RPSM (talk) 22:45, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

Schultze's role overemphasized and distorted due to error in source[edit]

But the first person to use this property to produce a photographic image was German physicist Johann Heinrich Schulze. The source quoted (Susan Watt 2003. Silver. Marshall Cavendish. pp. 21–. ISBN 978-0-7614-1464-3. is in error here. Schulze did not produce a photographic image, or use a camera. Wedgewood used painting on glass as a negative to produce a range of mid-tones. Changing a light sensitive material by exposing it to light with a stencil to produce the outlines of letters is not photography. and not what is ordinarily understood by a "photographic image". Helmut Gernsheim (A Concise History of Photography) says specifically that what Schultze did was not photography. While trying to make phosphorus, Schulze saturated chalk with nitric acid which ... stencil images Schulze did not carry his experiments towards photography.

Susan Watt has authored several books on the elements for children (Silver, Chlorine, Mercury, Zirconium, Cobalt) A childrens' book on the elements is not a reliable source for information on photography without fact checking. RPSM (talk) 16:34, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Mercury poisoning (French)[edit]

L'intoxication mercurielle, un accident du travail chez les photographes [Question CCIX Les pharmaciens promoteurs de la photographie d'amateur en France RPSM (talk) 13:37, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Bromine poisoning[edit] 13:44, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Link below gives entry "bromism" in Lewis' Dictionary of Toxicology:'+Dictionary+of+Toxicology&source=bl&ots=uL0vDeVJwk&sig=mbHCn9TIio-BYFu8gSkEqjPOGrc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=V96QVKjNJcHRygOE6oCoBQ&ved=0CBQQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=bromism%20Lewis'%20Dictionary%20of%20Toxicology&f=false

RPSM (talk) 01:44, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

Paul Beck Goddard[edit]

Various claims for accelerators of process to facilitate portraiture RPSM (talk) 12:54, 12 November 2014 (UTC)

This article by Jonathan Carter was first published in the 2002 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise[edit]

The beginnings of photography in Jersey RPSM (talk) 11:02, 20 November 2014 (UTC)


CHAPTER VI. AN ACCOUNT OF WOLCOTT AND JOHNSON'S EARLY EXPERIMENTS, IN THE DAGUERREOTYPE. BY JOHN JOHNSON. [From Humphrey's Journal, vol. ii 185l] As a general thing, however perfect any invention may be deemed by the inventor or discoverer, it falls to the lot of most, to be the subject of improvement and advancement, and especially is this the case with those new projects in science which open an untrodden field to the view of the artisan. Such has been, in an eminent degree, the case with the discovery first announced to the world by Mons. Jean Jaques Claude Daguerre, of Paris, in the year 1839, and which excited unbounded astonishment, curiosity and surprise. It may be questioned had any other than Daguerre himself discovered a like beautiful combination, whether the world would have been favored with details exhibiting so much care, patience and perseverance as the Daguerreotype on its introduction. Shortly after, these details reached the United States, by Professor S. F. B. Morse, of New York, who was, at the time of the discovery, residing in Paris. By this announcement, the whole scientific corps was set in operation, many repeating the experiments, following carefully the directions pointed out by Daguerre, as being necessary to success. Among the number in the United States, was Alexander S. Wolcott (since deceased) and myself; both of this city. On the morning of the 6th day of October, 1839, I took to A. Wolcott's residence, a full description of Daguerre's discovery, he being at the time engaged in the department of Mechanical Dentistry, on some work requiring his immediate attention, the work being promised at 2 P.M. that day; having, therefore, no opportunity to read the description for himself (a thing he was accustomed to do at all times, when investigating any subject). I read to him the paper, and proposed to him that if he would plan a camera (a matter he was fully acquainted with, both theoretically and practically), I would obtain the materials as specified by Daguerre. This being agreed to, I departed for the purpose, and on my return to his shop, he handed me the sketch of a camera box, without at all explaining in what manner the lens was to be mounted. This I also undertook to procure. After 2, P.M., he had more leisure, when he proceeded to complete the camera, introducing for that purpose a reflector in the back of the box, and also to affix a plate holder on the inside, with a slide to obtain the focus on the plate, prepared after the manner of Daguerre. While Mr. Wolcott was engaged with the camera, I busied myself in polishing the silver plate, or rather silver plated copper; but ere reaching the end preparatory to iodizing, I found I had nearly or quite removed the silver surface from off the plate, and that being the best piece of sliver-plated copper to be found, the first remedy at hand that suggested itself, was a burnisher, and a few strips were quickly burnished and polished. Meantime. the camera being finished, Mr. Wolcott, after reading for himself Daguerre's method of iodizing, prepared two plates, and placing them in the camera, guessed at the required time they should remain exposed to the action of the light; after mercurializing each in turn, and removing the iodized surface with a solution of common salt two successful impressions were obtained, each unlike the other! Considerable surprise was excited by this result, for each plate was managed precisely like the other. On referring to Daguerre, no explanation was found for this strange result; time, however, revealed to us that one picture was positive, and the other negative. On this subject I shall have much to say during the progress of the work. Investigating, the cause of this difference occupied the remainder of that day. However, another attempt was agreed upon, and the instruments, plates, etc., prepared and taken up into an attic room, in a position most favorable for light. Having duly arranged the camera, I sat for five minutes, and the result was a profile miniature (a miniature in reality,) or a plate not quite three-eighths of an inch square. Thus, with much deliberation and study, passed the first day in Daguerreotype-- little dreaming or knowing into what a labyrinth such a beginning was hastening us. [Description of apparatus represented on pages 192 and 199:] A.--The Box--about 4 inches long by about 2 outside diameter. B.--The Reflector soldered to a brass screw, and mounted in the rear of the box. c.--The slide to regulate the focus to the plate holder. d.--The standard to the plate holder screwed to the slide. f.--The plate-holder frame having two small ledges, * *, for the plate to rest upon. [page 192] g.--The plate resting upon the ledge., * *, and kept against the frame by the spring h. The plates used were about 3/8 of an inch square. A.--The window with the sashes removed. B and C (p. 199) are large looking-glasses mounted as plain reflectors, the lower one C having rotary motion upon the saddle, resting upon the sill of the window in order to direct the rays of the sun upon the reflector B, at any hour of the day--the vertical motion of the reflector C [amdg_12.gif] being necessary, the sun varying in altitude so much during the hours most favorable to the production of portraits. The reflector C was [page 193] kept up to the required position by the handle lever, upright post and bolts. Reflector B was hinged at its upper end at the top of the window frame, the only motion being necessary was that which would reflect upon the sitter the incident rays from reflector C--the reflector B being kept at the required angle by the connecting lever m, etc. Suitable back-grounds were placed behind the sitter. The reflector B and C, had frequently to be renewed, the heat of the sun soon destroying their brilliance or power of reflecting, light, before renewing them, however, we resorted to the springing of them, by which means their power was increased for a period. The camera or reflecting apparatus, invented by Mr. Wolcott, was, from the nature of the case, better adapted at that day to the taking of portraits from life, than any other instruments. After carefully examining the camera described by Daguerre, and the time stated as necessary to produce action for an image, it became evident to the mind of Mr. Wolcott at once, that more light could be obtained (as the field of view required was not large) by employing a reflector of short focus and wide aperture, than from a lens arrangement, owing to spherical aberration and other causes. Many experiments having been tried with the small instrument figured (p. 199), a reflector for taking portraits from life was determined on, having eight inches diameter, with twelve inches focal distance for parallel rays; this was to admit plates of two inches wide by two and a half long Mr. Wolcott having on hand reflectors of the right diameter, for Newtonian telescopes, of eight feet focal distance, resolved (as it was a matter of experiment) to grind down or increase the curve for the focal distance before named-- this required time. In the mean time, many plans were pursued for making good plates, and the means of finishing, them. As the completion of the large reflector drew to a close, our mutual friend, Henry Fitz, Jr., returned from England, whither he had been on a visit, and when he heard what we were about, kindly offered his assistance; he being well versed in optics, and having been before engaged with Mr. Wolcott, in that and other business is offer was gladly accepted-- Mr. Wolcott himself having frequent engagement; to fill as operator in the details of mechanical dentistry. Thus, by the aid of Mr. Fitz, the reflector was polished, and experiments soon after tried on plates of two by tow and a half inches, with tolerable success. Illness on my part quite suspended further trial for nearly four weeks. On my recovery, early in January, 1840, our experiments were again resumed with improved results, so much so as to induce Mr. Wolcott and myself to entertain serious thoughts of making a business of the taking of likenesses from life, intending to use the reflecting apparatus invented by Mr. Wolcott, and for which he obtained Letters Patent, on the 8th day of May, 1840. Up to January 1st, 1840, all experiments had been tried on an economical scale, and the apparatus then made, was unfit for public exhibition; we resolved to make the instruments as perfect as possible while they were in progress of manufacture. Experiments were made upon mediums for protecting the eyes from the direct light of the sun, and also upon the best form and material for a back-ground to the likenesses. The length of time required for a "sitting," even with the reflecting apparatus, was such as to render the operation anything but pleasant. Expedients were ever ready in the hands of Wolcott: blue glass was tried and abandoned in consequence of being, at that time, unable to procure a piece of uniform density and surface: afterwards a series of thin muslin screens secured to wire frames were prepared as a substitute for blue glass. The objections to these screens, however, were serious, inasmuch as a multiplication of them became necessary to lessen the intensity of the light sufficiently for due protection to the eyes, without which, the likenesses, other than profiles, were very unpleasant to look upon. Most of the portraits, then of necessity were profiles formed upon back-grounds, the lighter parts relieved upon black, and the darker parts upon light ground; the back-ground proper being of light colored material with black velvet so disposed upon the light ground, this being placed sufficiently far from the sitter, to produce harmony of effect when viewed in the field of the camera. Other difficulties presented themselves seriously to the working of the discovery of Daguerre, to portrait taking-- one of which was the necessity for a constant and nearly horizontal light, that the shaded portions of the portrait should not be too hard, and yet, at the same time, be sufficiently well developed without the "high light" of the picture becoming overdone, solarized or destroyed. In almost all the early specimens of the Daguerreotype, extremes of light and shade presented themselves, much to the annoyance of the early operators, and seriously objectionable were such portraits. To overcome this difficulty, Mr. Wolcott mounted, with suitable joints, upon the top of his camera, a large looking-glass or plane reflector, in such a manner that the light of the sun (as a strong light was absolutely necessary), when falling upon the glass could be directed upon the person in an almost horizontal direction. Early in February, 1840, Mr. Johnson, Sen., (since deceased) sailed for Europe with a few specimen likenesses taken with the instruments completed as above, with the intention of patenting the invention. On his arrival a joint arrangement was effected with Mr. Richard Beard, of London, in patenting and working the invention in England. Up to February, 1840, but few friends had been made acquainted with the progress of the art in the hands of Mr. Wolcott and myself. From time to time reports reached us from various sources of the success of others, and specimens of landscapes, etc., were exhibited at Dr. James R. Chilton's laboratory, in Broadway, much to the gratification of the numerous visitors and anxious expectants for this most wonderful discovery. Dr. Chilton, Professor J. J. Mapes, Professor J. W. Draper. Professor S. F. B. Morse, all of this city; Mr. Cornelius, Dr. Goddard and others of Philadelphia; Mr. Southworth, Professor Plumbe, and numerous others were early in the field; all, however, using the same description of camera as that of Daguerre, with modification for light, either by enlargement by lens and aperture for light, or by shortening the focal distance. At a conversational meeting of the Mechanics' Institute, Professor J. J. Mapes being present, a question was asked if any one present could give information relative to portraiture from life by the Daguerreotype. Mr. Kells, a friend of Mr. Wolcott and a scientific and practical man (sinced deceased), at once marked out upon the black-board, the whole as contrived by Mr. Wolcott. This gave publicity to the invention of Mr. Wolcott. Shortly after, Professor Mapes, Dr. Chilton, and many others, sat for their portraits, and were highly gratified. Professor Morse also came and proposed to Mr. Wolcott to join him in the working of the invention, etc. From this time much interest was manifested by our friends in our progress. Rooms were obtained in the Granite Buildings, corner of Broadway and Chambers street, and fitted for business. The rooms being small, it was soon found impracticable to use the arrangement of looking-glass, as previously spoken of; a new plan became necessary, to introduce which, the sashes were removed, [page 199] and two large looking-glasses were mounted in proper frames, thus:-- [amdg_13.gif] Just in front, and between the sitter and [page 200] the reflector, upon a proper stand, were used those paper muslin screen before described; also screens of tissue paper. These screens. however, when they were used, required so much time for a sitting, that some other medium, as a protection to the eyes, became absolutely necessary. The most plausible thing that suggested itself was blue glass; but, as this could not be found, numerous were the expedients proposed by the friends of the art, who from time to time visited our rooms. At the suggestion of Professor Mapes (who is ever ready to assist those in perplexity), a trough of plate glass s, about twenty-eight inches square in the clear, and from three to four inches thick, was filled with a solution of ammonia sulphate of copper, and mounted on the frame as in the sketch, which, for a time, answered extremely well; soon, however, decomposition of this solution became apparent from the increased length of time required for a sitting, although to the eye of an observer, no visible cause for such long sittings could be pointed out. Professor Mapes being appealed to, suggested that to the above solution a little acid be added which acted like a charm-- shortening the time for a sitting from six, eight, or ten minutes to that of about one. Decomposition, however, would go on by the action of light and heat through the solution. New solutions were tried, when the whole were finally abandoned as being, too uncertain and troublesome. (The reflecting apparatus R, was placed upon the stand as in the sketch, with a wedge for elevating the camera, between it and the table, to obtain the image properly upon the plate.) A quantity of blue window glass was next obtained, and holes drilled through the corners of it, and several sheets were wired together to increase the size, and, when complete, was suspended from the ceiling in its proper place, and so arranged that when a person was sitting, this sheet of glass could be moved to and from, the object of which was to prevent shadows on the face of the sitter produced from the uneven surface of the glass. This latter contrivance was used until a perfect plate of glass was procured. The number of persons desirous of obtaining, their miniatures, induced many to entertain the idea of establishing themselves in the Art as a profession, and numerous were the applications for information; many persons paying for their portraits solely with the view of seeing the manner of our manipulations, in order that they might obtain information to carry on likeness-taking as a business. The reflecting camera being a very troublesome instrument to make, and difficulties besetting us from every source, but little attention could be given to teaching others; and, indeed, as the facts seemed to be at this time, we knew but little of the necessary manipulations ourselves. In course of time, several established themselves. The first one, after ourselves, who worked the discovery of Daguerre for portrait taking in this city, was a Mr. Prosch; followed soon after by many others, in almost all cases copying the reflecting arrangement for light, as figured above, many using it even after we had long abandoned that arrangement for a better one. Innumerable obstacles to the rapid advance of the daguerreotype, presented themselves almost hourly, much to the annoyance of ourselves, and those dependent upon our movements for their advancement. Among the most difficult problems of the day, was the procuring of good plates. Messrs. Corduran & Co. were among the first to supply the trade; at that early day, however, it was a very rare thing, to be able to procure an even perfect surface, from the fact that a pure surface of silver could scarcely be obtained, the manufacturers deeming it too much trouble to prepare silver plated copper with pure silver-- the result was, that in attempting to polish perfectly such plated metal as could be procured, the plates would become cloudy, or colored in spots, from the fact of having more or less alloy, according as more or less of the silver surface was removed in polishing the plate fit for an impression. To explain more clearly, it was the practice of most silver platers to use an alloy for silver-plating. In the reduction of the ingot to sheet metal, annealing has to be resorted to, and acid pickles to remove oxides, etc. The number of times the plated metal is exposed to heat and acid in its reduction to the required thickness, produces a surface of pure silver. The most of this surface is, however, so rough as to be with difficulty polished, without in places removing entirely this pellicle of pure metal, and exposing a polished surface of the alloy used in plating. Whenever such metal was used, very unsightly stains or spots frequently disfigured the portraits. The portrait, or portion of it, developed upon the pure silver, being much lighter or whiter than that developed upon the alloy; it therefore appeared that the purer the silver, the more sensitive the plate became. Accordingly, we directed Messrs. Scovills, of Connecticut, to prepare a roll of silver-plated metal, with pure silver; it fortunately proved to be a good article, but, unfortunately, a pound of this metal (early in 1840) cost the round sum of $9. Like descriptions of metal, the same gentlemen would be glad to furnish, at this time, for $4. Soon after this, some samples of English plated metal, of a very superior quality, came to our possession, and relieved us from the toil of making and plating one plate at a time, an expedient we were compelled to resort to, to command material to meet the pressing demands for portraits. Having it now in our power to obtain good plated metal, a more rapid mode of polishing than that recommended by Daguerre was attempted as follows: This metal was cut to the desired size, and having a pair of "hand rolls" at hand, each plate, with its silvered side placed next to the highly polished surface of a steel die, was passed and repassed through the rolls many times, by which process a very smooth, perfect surface was obtained. The plates were then annealed, and a number of plates thus prepared were fastened to the bottom of a box a few inches deep a foot wide, and eighteen inches long; this box was placed upon a table and attached to a rod connected to the face plate of a lathe, a few inches from its centre, so as to give the box a reciprocating motion. A quantity of emery was now strewn over the plates, and the lathe set in motion. The action produced wag a friction or rubbing of the emery over the surface of the plates. When continued for some time, a greyish polish was the result. Linseed, when used in the same manner, gave us better hope of success, and the next step resorted to was to build a wheel and suspend it after the manner of a grindstone. The plates being secured to the inner side of the wheel or case, and as this case revolved, the seeds would constantly keep to the lower level, and their sliding over the surface of the plates would polish or burnish their surfaces. This, with the former, was soon abandoned; rounded shots of silver placed in the same wheel were found not to perform the polishing so well as linseed. Buff-wheels of leather with rotten-stone and oil, proved to be far superior to all other contrivances; and, subsequently, at the suggestion of Professor Draper, velvet was used in lieu of buff leather, and soon superseded all other substances, both for lathe and hand-buffs, and I would add, for the benefit of new beginners that those who are familiar with its use, prefer cotton velvet. The only requisite necessary is, that the buffs made of cotton velvet should be kept dry and warm. The greater number of operators, with whose practice I am familiar, use, for polishing plates, prepared tripoli, imported from France, or Browne's rotten-stone. The former of these articles is very objectionable, inasmuch as there is no positive certainty of being enabled to procure or make the article of uniform grit--the nature of the substance rendering, it impossible to reduce it to varying degrees of evenness, by the well known process of washing, for that purpose, and the burning of rotten-stone changes its chemical nature somewhat, at the same time rendering, this invaluable article harsh and gritty. And especially, no reliance can be placed upon burned rotten stone if purchased from those who do not give very great attention and care to its preparation; and the same remarks apply to rouge. The best article for polishing Daguerreotype plates is rotten-stone, such as can be procured in any town, prepared after the following manner: Procure, say half a dozen wide-mouthed bottles, of suitable dimensions, numbering each from one to six. Put into No. 1 about half a pound of rotten-stone. and nearly fill the bottle with water. Then, with a proper stick or spatule, mix well the rotten-stone and water; after which, let No. 1 rest for, say one minute, then carefully pour off into bottle No. 2 (or, what would be better, draw off by a syphon) as much of the floating particles of rotten-stone as is suspended in the water. Again fill bottle No. 1 with water, agitate it as before, and decant it to bottle No. 2, care being taken to draw off only the suspended particles of rotten-stone. When a sufficient quantity of washings from bottle No. 1 is collected into bottle No. 2, a similar process must be gone through. as above stated, for No. 1; the difference being in the care required, and in the time allowed between the stirring or mixing the rotten-stone and water. The floating particles of rotten-stone, after four minutes' subsiding, will be found fine enough for the finest Daguerreotype polishing required. A quantity of such washings may be collected in a large bottle, and allowed to stand a few hours, when all the rotten-stone will have settled. The water may be poured off and the rotten-stone put into an evaporating dish, and while being dried, must be constantly stirred to obtain an impalpable powder. Further washings may in like manner be resorted to for finer qualities of rotten-stone. In my practice, I have used the articles at two and four minutes' settling, and occasionally have prepared it after standing for eight minutes. So fine a quality as this, however, is seldom required. In using, rotten-stone, I mix with it, for polishing, fine olive oil, until I obtain a thin paste--and the best of all methods for polishing (well planished) Daguerreotype plates, is one like that used for glass by lens polishers; that is, by using a disc or buff-wheel, and having, a suitable holder by which to secure the plate, and then by pressing the plate against the revolving buff, well saturated with the mixed oil and rotten-stone, a very good surface is obtained. A quantity of plates may be prepared in this way, and all the adhering oil, etc., may be removed by a clean hand, or lathe buff, after which each plate must be heated to the point necessary to burn off the remaining oil great care being required not to overheat the plate. A very slight excess of temperature will at once destroy all the polish previously obtained. The test for ascertaining the right temperature is at hand; the adhering oil will be driven from the plate in the form of smoke when the right temperature is reached. The moment the smoke ceases to rise from the plate, the heat must he removed, and the plate quickly cooled upon a piece of iron. A quantity of plates thus prepared may be kept on hand for any required time, and the labor of one minute, with a lathe or hand-buff with dry charcoal, or rather, prepared lampblack, will perfectly polish the surface ready for indexing, etc. This lampblack also requires some care in preparing. Take a small-size crucible, properly temper it by a slow fire, that it may not be cracked after which, fill it with common lampblack, cover it over with a piece of soap-stone, and again replace it in the fire. Build a good hard coal fire around it continue the heat for two or three hours, being careful not to raise the cover till the crucible be quite cold. Pulverize when using it. It is very desirable to keep this lampblack dry and warm. Some operators use much rouge I would recommend the above in preference; but those who feel that they cannot dispense with the use of rouge, had better try a large addition of prepared lampblack to a small one of rouge, as this latter article, unless great pains be taken in its preparation, will adhere and work itself into the body of the surface, so that it cannot be removed therefrom; and I have seen many specimens of Daguerreotype very much injured in effect from this rouge tint disseminated throughout their shaded features, at the same time that the whole general effect of such pictures is that of a want of life. It is true that with the use of rouge a very high degree of polish may be obtained, but probably not higher than can be produced with many other substances of a less objectionable nature. From the announcement of the discovery by Daguerre to the beginning of the year 1840, I am not aware of any attempt to lessen the time for the action of an image, or an impression, other than that of the reflecting camera invented by Mr. Wolcott. Early, however, in 1840, Mr. Wolcott was desirous to be enabled to further shorten the time for a sitting, and having some knowledge of bromine and its action, by request, Dr. Chilton prepared a small quantity; but Mr. Wolcott did not succeed very well with it, he having invariably used too much in combination with iodine to produce that sensitive coating now well known to the profession. Professor Morse, of this city, Dr. Goddard, of Philadelphia, and others, in the years 1840 and 1841, were acquainted with the use of bromine. N. Griffing, of this city, or myself, used with tolerable success, iodine in large excess to nitric acid and water; and, subsequently, to nitro muriatic acid (which reacted and formed a peculiar chloride of iodine); this latter combination proved to be preferable to simple iodine, at the same time somewhat more sensitive, and was used by me in this city up to the time of my leaving for London (October 1, 1840). On arriving in London, I instituted a series of experiments in the various chemical combinations, solely with the view to be enabled to obtain more speedily a portrait than it was practicable to do with any known chemicals at that date. The high latitude, and the winter season of the year rendering but a feeble light at best, the greater the necessity for a more sensitive chemical preparation to the shortening the time for a sitting. Near the beginning of the year 1841, I discovered and practically applied, chloride of iodine to great advantage, and, as far as memory serves me, I believe the first used in this country was some made and shipped, Messrs. Harnden & Co., from London, to Mr. Wolcott, in New York. About the same time, Mr. John Goddard, of London (who was associated with myself), discovered a rather valuable combination of chemicals, consisting of a mixture of iodine, bromine, iodus, and iodic acid, and a proper combination of those bodies gave an action somewhat more sensitive than chloride of iodine--but the "high lights" of the portraits would become solarized or overdone, more frequently with this combination than with the chloride of iodine. Throughout the year 1841, I used, with great success, chloride of iodine, applied as one coating--occasionally in conjunction with Mr. Wolcott, attempting the use of iodine, bromine, and chlorine, and at times with more or less success. The difficulty of exactly combining, the three elements above mentioned, in order to produce a certainty of result with harmony of effect, was the work of many months, with great labor and study, the slightest modification requiring a long, series of practical experiments, a single change consuming, frequently, an entire day in instituting comparisons, etc., etc. Early in the year, 1842, I discovered a combination of chemicals (now known in London as "Wolcott's Mixture," in hermetically sealed bulbs) of exceeding uniform character, very sensitive to the action of light, and specimens produced in 1842-3, with this combination, will bear comparison with the best specimens produced at this late date. About the same time, I discovered that however much overdone a Daguerreotype might be, the means were at hand to save or redeem it. It has long, since been known to operators, that if a plate be exposed to light after being coated, unless it be again coated, a clear and distinct picture could not be obtained upon the same plate without first repolishing and recoating the same, care being taken that no light fall upon the prepared surface. To prevent solarization, coat a plate as usual, expose to the action of light any required time (according to circumstances), say from quarter to one half more time than would be required in the ordinary method of procedure; observe, before putting the plate in the mercury box, place it over the vapor of iodine, bromine, or chlorine, etc. (carefully excluding the light), for a very brief period, great care being required to have the selected vapor very much diluted with air, in order to success. Many experiments will be required ere arriving at satisfactory results. Specimens now unknown to general operators, for harmony of effect, have been, and may again be produced by the method pointed out above. I have found the best general effect, and the most certain result to follow from the use of the vapor of chlorine--but this requires more than ordinary care. I would, therefore, recommend the use of iodine. Thus: to a few grains of iodine, add an ounce of warm water (which will become tinged with iodine); when cold, to half a pint of pure water in a new and clean coating box, put, of the above, fifty drops; stir and mix well this small quantity of iodine in with the water; in ten minutes this box will be ready for use. Great care and judgment will be required in the application of this vapor to the plate; if the plate remain over the vapor too long. the developed picture will have a faint and misty appearance; if not exposed long enough, the "high light" will be solarized. I have great hope of the ultimate use of this process, as it is the only means yet discovered to be enabled to secure specimens of extremes of light and shade, yet producing harmony of effect; and I would call the attention of the profession to the fact, that a plate may be exposed to the action of light for any length of time (a thousand times longer than required to act for the lesser quantity of mercury to deposit itself, or that amount necessary to form a perfect specimen), and be restored by the application of any of the vapors above mentioned, remarking that for extremes for solarization, denser vapors will be required. Much remains to be done with this discovery to the application of the Daguerreotype. HUMPHREY'S JOURNAL OF THE DAGUERREOTYPE & PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS. The above-named publication is well known as the best and most valuable one devoted to the Photographic Science in this country. Humphrey's Journal made its appearance November 1st, 1850, and consequently is the first and oldest serial offered to the Photographic world. The art of producing Portraits and Landscapes by means of Light, has recently taken a new and enlivening impulse, which will in all probability lead to important and interesting results. No practical Daguerreotypist, Photographer, or amateur, should be without the means at hand for securing all of the information upon this subject. Each should be ready to receive and apply the improvements as they may be developed. In order to accomplish this, it is a matter of great importance to the Practitioner or Experimenter that he should have a reliable medium through which he can obtain information. In what source can the inquirer better place his confidence than in a regular Journal, whose editor is literally a practical person, and familiar with the manipulations necessary for producing Portraits upon "Daguerreotype Plates," and upon glass and paper? Such is the conductor of Humphrey's Journal. This Journal is published once every two weeks, and contains all the improvements relating to the Art, and is the only American Journal whose editor is practically acquainted with the process for producing Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, and Photographs. The first No. of Vol. X. is dated May 1st, 1858. The terms (Two Dollars per annum) are trifling compared with the vast amount of information furnished. AMBROTYPES.--Humphrey's Journal contains everything novel which appears upon this subject, and has already presented more new, important, and original matter than can be found in any other place. Many are the letters we have received during the term of the last volume, in which the writer has stated that a single number of Humphrey's Journal has contained information of more value to him than "several times the amount paid for the entire volume." Our resources have grown up around us, and our facilities for procuring, as well as distributing, all such facts and improvements as will benefit as well as instruct all who have the progress of the Art at heart, are as ample as they can well be made. The future volumes will be abundantly furnished with original writings from persons of standing in the scientific world; and the practical Photographer will here find a full account of such improvements as may from time to time develop themselves. From the editor's long practical experience in the Heliographic Science, he will be enabled to present the subject in a plain, clear, and concise manner. Read what the Editors say of Humphrey's Journal:-- "We have received a copy of a valuable Journal (Humphrey's) published in New York, which has reached the 18th number of Vol. VI.....We now have the pleasure of quoting from our trans-atlantic coadjutor."-- Liverpool Photographic Jour. "Humphrey's Journal is practical as well as scientific in character."-- American Journal of Science and Arts. "It treats the subject knowingly and with force."--New York Tribune. "It is both a popular and interesting publication."--Mechanics' Magazine. "It is highly useful to all who practice 'shadow catching.'"-- Ohio State Journal. "The work is neatly gotten up, and contains many interesting varieties in this new field of science."--Times. "It should be hailed and encouraged, not only by Daguerreotypists themselves, but by every lover of Science and Art."--The Democrat. "We cannot too strongly urge all artists, and those persons who feel an interest in the Heliographic Arts and Sciences, to take a copy of the work."--Sentinel. "It is indicative of talent worthy of the important Art it is designed to elevate."--American. "This Art is entitled to its own organ, which could not have fallen into better hands than those of the editor of 'Humphrey's Journal.'"--Transcript. "It is a scientific work of interest and usefulness."-- Star of the North. "This Journal answers many points heretofore regarded as inexplicable."-- Hudson River Chronicle. "It is rich with interest."--North American. "It contains all the 'Improvements.'"--Delta. "It teaches us how to take our own portraits."--Bee. "It will cultivate a taste for Daguerreotypes."--Commercial Advertiser. "It should be in the hands of all."--Reveille. "It is the Daguerreotypist's friend."--London News. "It should be found in every library."--Evening Journal. From some of our Subscribers "Humphrey's Journal has been the means of saving much time and money, for by its instruction I have been enabled to produce some of the finest Paper Pictures I have ever seen." W. P. "Don't fail to send me the Journal, for I would not be without it for five times the amount of subscription. It is the only publication I can depend upon." A. G. R. "Your treatment of the humbugs and humbugging members of the profession, is of the most valuable importance to us practical Daguerreans. Go on. God speed! Here is the amount for the renewal of my subscription." E. F. S. "How can any Operator offord to be without it?" L. L. H. "Here are five dollars: send me Humphrey's Journal to this amount. I will not be without it." M. S. "It is my best friend." J. E. W. We might quote like commendatory extracts enough to more than ten times fill this page. Humphrey's Journal contains 16 octavo pages of reading matter. TERMS. One copy per annum, in advance . . . . . . $2 00 Three copies, do. do. . . . . . . $5 00 Six copies, do. do. . . . . . . $9 00 The thousands who read it cannot be induced to remain without it. All who desire to keep up with the improvements should subscribe for a copy. Subscription price Two Dollars per year. Don't fail to become a subscriber. Address S. D. HUMPHREY Office, 37 Lispenard Street, NEW YORK. THE PRACTICAL MANUAL OF THE COLLODION PROCESS. BY S. D. HUMPHREY. THIRD EDITION This Edition contains all the Improvements in the Art made public up to the day of publication, and gives complete Practical Instructions for making Collodion Positives or Ambrotypes, Collodion Negatives, Printing, etc., etc. The quick, great and unprecedented sale of the first and second editions demonstrates, more than the strongest language could possibly do, the extraordinary and increasing popularity of this work. The Third Edition contains two hundred and sixteen 12mo. pages, of a larger size and in smaller type than either of the preceding editions, and is illustrated with numerous wood-cuts. It is intended to be the best practical work extant; substantially bound in cloth, price One Dollar; forwarded by mail (postage prepaid). Address S. D. HUMPHREY, New York A GUIDE TO PHOTOGRAPHY, Containing simple and concise directions for obtaining Views, Portraits, etc., by the chemical agency of Light, by W. H. Thornthwaite, author of "Photogenic Manipulations," etc. Illustrated with numerous wood-cuts. The Book contains more than one hundred 12mo pages, bound in board, and is sold at twenty-five cents per copy, or five copies for one dollar. Address S. D. HUMPHREY, New York HOLMES, BOOTH & HAYDENS, MANUFACTURERS OF DAGUERREOTYPE CASES, PLATES, CAMERAS, MATTINGS, PRESERVERS, ETC., ETC. MANUFACTURERS AND IMPORTERS OF EVERY VARIETY OF AMBROTYPE, AND PHOTOGRAPHIC GOODS, Of the Best and most approved Quality. ESPECIAL ATTENTION GIVEN T0 THE FURNISHING OF EVERY ARTICLE USED IN THE PRACTICE OF THE DAGUERREOTYPE Depot 81 Chambers and 63 Reade St., New York. Manufactory at Waterbury, Conn. HOLMES, BOOTH & HAYDENS' CAMERAS From 1/4 to the Mammoth size. These CAMERAS are of the most superior make, and all subjected to the most thorough test before being offered for sale. VIEW CAMERAS, made expressly for taking views: an entirely new article. DAGUERREOTYPE PLATES, OF EVERY VARIETY. AND WE WOULD CALI. PARTICULAR. ATTENTION TO THE Wreath, and H. B. & H. Eagle 40 Plates, AS HAVING NO EQUALS IN THE MARKET. SOLE AGENTS FOR THE CELEBRATED H. B. AND N. P. FRENCH PLATES. Always on hand a complete assortment of Ambrotype and Photographic goods. SOLE AGENTS FOR THE Patent solid glass corner Plate Holders. All orders will receive prompt attention, and be forwarded with dispatch. HOLMES, BOOTH & HAYDENS, 81 Chambers, and 63 Reade St. New York. SCOVILL MANUFACTURING CO. MANUFACTURER OF DAGUERREOTYPE PLATES, MATTINGS, PRESERVERS, CASES, APPARATUS, etc., etc. Importers and Dealers in every description of Daguerreotype, Photographic, AND AMBROTYPE GOODS, The SCOVILL MANUFACTURING COMPANY flatter themselves that an experience of nearly twenty years in the business and the most extensive variety of the above Goods in the United States, entitle them to the continuance of orders for the Domestic and Foreign trade, which will receive the most careful attention. Park Building, New York. Entrances--36 Park Row, 4 Beekman, and 141 Nassau Street. SCOVILL MANUFACTURING CO. Would call especial attention to their large variety of CASES, Embracing many Fancy Styles made only by themselves, and to which they are constantly adding New Designs. Union Cases, Of all sizes, with Riveted Hinges. AGENTS FOR THE SALE OF C. C. HARRISON'S CAMERAS, with improvements, which we are now prepared to sell at reduced prices, and warranted to give better satisfaction than ever before DAGUERREOTYPE PLATES, H. B.--N. P.-- Star and other brands PLATE GLASS, embracing three-quarters white: Crown and all other varieties. We would call particular attention to our Black Glass, made expressly for Ambrotypes. CHEMICALS, for the Daguerreotype and Photographic Art. Iodized and Plain COLLODION. Gun Cotton, etc., etc. Tagliabue's Collodiometres and Actino-Hydrometres, for testing Chemicals. APPARATUS OF EVERY VARIETY. Gutta Percha, Porcelain, and Glassware of all kinds used in the Art. A large assortment of Gilt Frames always on hand and made to order. Ambrotype Shields, with solid corners of a new style. All orders will meet with prompt attention SCOVILL MANUFACTURING CO., PARK BUILDING New York 36 Park Row, 4 Beckman, and 141 Nassau Street. HARDWICH'S PHOTOGRAPHIC CHEMISTRY AMERICAN EDITION. A MANUAL of PHOTOGRAPHIC CHEMISTRY, INCLUDING THE PRACTICE OF THE COLLODION PROCESS. BY T. FREDERICK HARDWICH, LECTURER ON PHOTOGRAPHY IN KINGS COLLEGE, LONDON; LATE DEMONSTRATOR OF CHEMISTRY IN KING'S COLLEGE. Last Edition, The above is the title of this new and valuable work. It is too well known to need any further comment in this place. This volume contains nearly 300 large duodecimo pages. bound in red cloth, $1.00. Copies to be forwarded by mail, $1.18, postage pre-paid. S. D. HUMPHREY, Photographic Book Publisher, 37 LISPENARD STREET, NEW YORK, N.B. Postage stamps taken. RPSM (talk) 08:50, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

Another on line version of the above[edit] RPSM (talk) 09:02, 25 November 2014 (UTC)



Added image of the daguerreotype process[edit]

I created and added an image in order to visualize the process of the daguerreotype development.--Susannacelestecastelli (talk) 14:52, 1 December 2014 (UTC)

Duden - German dictionary confirms correct Latin plural of camera obscura is camerae obscurae[edit] RPSM (talk) 01:50, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

Duden is of course right, but was there ever any doubt? Awien (talk) 02:26, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
This has already been discussed under the heading Plural forms here and, in answer to the Frequently Asked Question: Is the plural of camera obscura 'cameras obscura' or ”camera obscuras' or even 'camerae obscurae'? here RPSM (talk) 20:22, 15 January 2015 (UTC)


Someone changed the word England in the article text to Britain, but they are not the same thing so I have reverted the text to England.

There is something written here under the heading Early photographic patents about which geographical areas were covered by a patent at the time.

John Hannavy has a photograph of the Scotch specification on his website and writes in a discussion on patents on the web:

Reply by John Hannavy on June 13, 2009 at 12:53

Hi Gael,

I have been doing a lot of research recently on Beard's Scottish and Irish Patents - the results are published in the latest Daguerreian Annual - and I have to tell you Beard did patent his 'Improvements' in both Ireland and Scotland. This probably means that the Scots and Irish were free to use Daguerre's original specification, but not Beard's 'Improvements'. There is, however, no record of beard ever enforcing his patents, so one is left wondering why on earth he went to the time and expense of protecting his invention. The relevant documents are Scottish Patent 144 of December 2nd 1840 (National Archives of Scotland, document number C20-40-144) This is, in fact, an earlier version of Beard’s English Patent No.8546 granted ten days later on December 12th º reflecting the much smaller workload of the Scottish Patent Office which meant they processed it more quickly. The other two are Scottish Patent No.148, 1841 (National Archives of Scotland, document number C20-41-148) and Irish Patent No.229 1840, exact date uncertain, but around the same time as the 1840 Scottish and English patents, and presumably covering the same 'Improvements'. The original document was lost in a fire in 1922.


I guess the "improvements" referred to are the Woolaston mirror camera and the use of bromine for what was called "quickstuff" to achieve shorter exposure times for portraiture.

RPSM (talk) 14:27, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Was photography (and the daguerreotype) invented in 1835, or in 1839? Why does the article say "Photography was born in 1839" when Daguerre had already been making daguerreoteypes for four years, documented from several reliable sources?[edit]

At the end of an appreciative review of the Diorama one could read In the Journal des artistes of the 27 September 1835:

"It is said that Daguerre has found a way to collect, on a plate prepared by him, the image produced by the camera obscura, so that a portrait, a landscape or any view, projected on to this plate by the ordinary camera obscura leaves an imprint in light and shade, as well as the most perfect of all drawings ... a contraption placed over this image will preserve it for an indefinite time ... the physical sciences have probably never before presented a miracle to match this one." (my translation)

In fact, at this time Daguerre had not found a way to fix the image of the daguerreotype or to take portraits, as the exposure times were too long,

Original text:

À la suite d’un commentaire élogieux sur le spectacle du Diorama, La Vallée de Goldau1, on peut lire dans le Journal des artistes du 27 septembre 1835 :

« [Daguerre] a trouvé dit-on, le moyen de recueillir, sur une planche préparée par lui, l’image produite par la chambre noire, de manière qu’un portrait, un paysage, une vue quelconque, projetée sur ce plateau par la chambre noire ordinaire, y laisse une empreinte en clair et en ombre, et présente ainsi le plus parfait de tous les dessins… Une préparation mise par dessus cette image, la conserve pendant un temps indéfini… Les sciences physiques n’ont peut-être jamais présenté une merveille comparable à celle-ci2. »

Paul-Louis Roubert Hubert, ou l'honneur de Daguerre' ' Études photographiques No 16 mai 2005

The following quotes are from The Silver Canvas, and some of them are used to establish the date of the first daguerreotype in The Encyclopedia of Ninteenth-Century Photography

When the Paris correspondent of the Athenaeum reported in January 1839 about the invention, he commented that Daguerre's current images were better than those he had seen "four years earlier".

The following year, in September 1836, the father of Eugéne Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc wrote his son that a friend told him of seeing a work by Daguerre taken from atop the Diorama showing the hills of Montmarte one-half miles away. With only a weak magnifying glass, he wrote, it was possible to distinguish among the windmills on the hill the one serving as the telegraph tower, despite the fact that it measured only about three-quarters of an inch on the plate. It was even possible, he added, to distinguish all its working parts and sails, including the glittering iron wires used to operate arms of the semaphore telegraph. The letter concluded the descriiption by adding that Daguerre's new device contained such minuscule details it could not possibly have been produced by an artist.


This little known description is the most detailed evidence proving that by the early winter 1836 Daguerre already had been able to produce a view that could be examined by others and that was clear enough to show minute details. See Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, Lettres de Italie: 1836 - 1837 addressée à sa famille (Paris: L. Laget, 1971), 165. RPSM (talk) 11:43, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

External links that are to be reduced[edit]

External links[edit]

The year photography was "born"[edit]

Born? Is this the same thing as "invented"? Apparently not. The reference to the Smithsonian Institute (with a warning not to quote the material for academic purposes is by an anonymous author, as is someone writing for a tourist guide for the National Trust (where a search for "the year photography was born" located the real source of this phrase (I think). contd later) RPSM (talk) 17:28, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

I am going to have to revert the text here to my original. There was a link to Daguerre's Diorama that has disappeared. The article in the Journal des artistes (1835) article does NOT discuss the daguerreotype and Hannavy (given as reference) does not say it does either[edit]

Article text now:

After experimenting with the process with Dumas for five years, Daguerre began producing daguerreotypes around 1834. He announced his invention to the Journal des artistes on 27 September 1835.[1] A review discussing the process entitled "La Vallée de Goldau" reads:

The review does not discuss the process at all. It is a review of a specific Diorama exhibition (La Vallé de Godau]] It is a picturesque valley in Switzerland, and you need to know something about Daguerre's Diorama to understand the context and the link to Daguerre's Diorama has disappeared.

The paragraph from the 1835 article in Journal des artistes which I translated from the French, has the first known mention of daguerreotypy in print (1835), is completely irrelevant to the review and is tacked onto the end of it - "a veiled reference"

The point of this was that some people confuse the public announcement of daguerreotypy (1839) with its invention. The invention was clouded in secrecy and some clues about how it progressed can be gathered from Daguerre's and Niépce's correspondence. RPSM (talk) 16:10, 11 February 2015 (UTC)

Note that the 1835 text in no way justifies saying that Daguerre "announced" his process to the Journal des artistes, or to anyone else except in strict confidence. It is only presented as an intriguing rumor. (talk) 23:40, 15 July 2017 (UTC)

Lead has been changed to read that daguerreotype was quickly superseded more effective technology. This is wrong.[edit]

The article reads as today's date:

Introduced in France in 1835 by artist Louis Daguerre,[1][2][3][4] after whom the process is named, the daguerreotype was quickly superseded by less expensive and more effective photographic technology by the early 1860s.

And here is an authoritative quote that entirely contradicts this:

Besides yielding the possibility of producing multiple copies, other advantages of negative/positive processes, such as Talbot's calotype, were immense. Paper prints could be bound into albums or tipped into publications; they presented no viewing problem, since there was no shiny surface; for travelers, paper negatives were lighter to carry; and, most important, they were cheaper. Yet for a good part of the twenty years following Daguerre's announcement, none of the many new photographic processes that were introduced truly replaced his or even equaled it for sharpness, speed and ability to record "reality".

Throughout this era of experimentation, the daguerreotype, with its exquisite fine-grained accuracy, stood for the quintessential in photography. Long after words like photographie and héliographie were introduced as more appropriate terms for photographs on paper, the word daguérreotypie remained a synonym for the whole field. Although little attention is given it, the reaction - both pro and con - to photography during this period was literally defined by the daguerreotype.[2]

Janet E. Buerger is associate curator of the Photographic Collections of the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House.

Therefore, it would be preferable to delete "more effective photographic technology" and insert "less effective photographic technology" but that would be an over-simplification.

Paper prints were plagued by fading, and daguerreotypes can be put under a microscope to reveal even finer detail invisible to the naked eye.

The daguerreotype gives better resolution than most modern pixel cameras (see article in Wired) [3] and was chosen by the French Photographic Society as preferable to the wet plate collodion process (in 1856) (that was the dominant process for twenty-five years - the same as the daguerreotype) use in astronomy because the wet plates had to remain wet during exposure and they dried up during long exposures.

For the moon and fleeting eclipses, collodion, drying too fast for a long exposure and not sensitive enough for a quick one, generally remained inferior the daguerreotype plate, although Bertsch, with Arnaud and Porro, did manage with a special formula. (p 90 Buerger)

RPSM (talk) 12:46, 12 February 2015 (UTC)

Hannavy in Encyclopedia of Ninteenth-Century Photography does indeed say that Daguerre announced his process in the Journal des artistes, but this is not true. I have sourced the article directly in French and RPSM (talk) 10:00, 13 February 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference hannavy was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Beurger, Janet E. (1989). French Daguerreotypes. The University of Chicago Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-226-07985-6.  More than one of |pages= and |page= specified (help)
  3. ^ JULIE, REHMEYER. "Daguerreotypes Bring Middle America's Past to Life". Retrieved 12 February 2015. 

Hannavy's error repeated here[edit]

I have checked Hannavy's Encyclopedia of Ninteenth-Century Photography and Hannavy says (in the article that he wrote on the Daguerreotype) that Daguerre announced his process in the 27 September 1835 issue of Journal des artistes. Not correct. The Silver Canvas was the original reference to this article in Journal des artistes I have translated the text into English from the French where in a French article has researched the original text. It is not an announcement by Daguerre at all, but a mention of the daguerreotype process without explaining any of the technical details that was tacked on to the end of the article.(which is not available on the web). It is my English translation and I had the original French which might be of interest for those French speakers who want to read the original.

The editor who destroyed the link adds that the article was a description and a review of the daguerreotype process. This is from his imagination. The article in Journal des artistes was about Daguerre's painting of a Swiss valley for his Diorama.

The internal link I fixed to Daguerre's Diorama has been erased and I have a lot of difficulty in manually putting back what took me so long to do in the first place.

Isabelle and Bates Lowry (not Lowry Bates) wrote The Silver Canvas and traced these early references to the daguerreotype in print. Hannavy borrowed their references without reading through the original French text, hence the error, which was repeated here. RPSM (talk) 10:51, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

Deterioration of lede[edit]

As things now stand, per the first two introductory sentences the daguerreotype was "introduced in the early 1840s" AND "Introduced in France in 1835".

Come on, folks, there are some things about which there is absolutely overwhelming consensus in the secondary sources, and one is the date of introduction: first public announcement at the Academie des Sciences on 7 January 1839, first public disclosure of the working details on 19 August 1839, then almost immediately afterward the process was being tried out in countries around the world. They do not count the pre-1839 private showings of specimens that Daguerre apparently made in an attempt to interest investors, much less a vague rumor in an 1835 newspaper article, as an "introduction" of the process. It is unclear just when Daguerre started using mercurial development, rather than very long camera exposures, to produce images on an iodized silver surface (and for all we know, the images mentioned in the 1835 tidbit and seen in 1836 may have been physautotypes, not daguerreotypes), or a hot saturated saline solution for stabilizing them, and without those crucial elements his invention was still a work in progress, not a complete process that could be "introduced" at all.

This ever-growing hairball of an article certainly needs some major surgery, but the recent lede revisions are hardly a model of forward progress to be emulated and I am about to largely revert them to the status quod ante. As to the verbiage about what a daguerreotype is not, that was mostly my doing. I consider something of the sort to be an essential feature of the article, and one to be presented as prominently and early on as possible: more than a few readers will come here seeking information about that (non-daguerreotype) "daguerreotype" in the little case they bought, or the (non-daguerreotype) "daguerreotype" of great-granddad in the old family photo album. If you watch Antiques Roadshow on PBS you will be shocked by how many "experts" who ought to know better have called various types of (non-daguerreotype) antique photographs "daguerreotypes". Disabusing readers of such misidentifications right off the bat seems to me an entirely justifiable part of this article's educational purpose. AVarchaeologist (talk) 11:49, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

I don't know if the "deterioration" of the lead is my doing since I'm the bozo who took a stab at cleaning up this monstrosity of an article, but I'll gladly take the credit. I knew my massive edit would likely ruffle a few feathers but after clicking here from Billy the Kid, I was astounded by the absolute mess it was. Right out of the gate I read what the daguerreotype is not and then I read two different dates that good ol' Louis invented it or told people about it. There's confusing and then there's "The hell did I just read?". All articles are generally written by multiple people with different ideas but those ideas should at least be cohesive. Nothing here is. I salvaged what I could - content that made sense or that was well written or that didn't clearly contradict preceding text, etc. - but the article, even now, is still rife with serious issues (ie Does the process really need to be explained in seven different subsections?). I found many instances of text that was copied from sources verbatim and content that was not even marginally supported by the reference(s) given. The references were also a mess as some were incomplete or didn't provide page numbers for verification.
I think it would greatly behoove the editors who work on this article regularly to actually collaborate and agree about the date Louis Daguerre trotted this out or whatever other issues that need to be agreed upon. As it stands, the knowledge you all clearly possess about the subject is being completely wasted because it is being smashed together in a very clumsy and confusing manner. The talk page is full up with comments to no one in particular presumably explaining why edits were made for some inexplicable reason, but that still hasn't helped the article one iota. I'll be happy to help with the technical aspects of editing (phrasing, clarity, formatting references, etc.) if needed, but a discussion about the content needs to begin in a centralized location. There's no need for anyone to start a new section on the talk page for every query or comment. If you make an edit, you can explain why it was done in the edit summary. If or when you get reverted, then you come to the talk page to begin a discussion. There's also no need to copy text or external links you removed from the article here. You can use diffs as a link to what you're referring to or simply let the article history do its job. That's why it exists. Pinkadelica (Talk) 04:28, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Pinkadelica, I second nearly all of your above rant and commend much of your bold edit, but it did manage to transform one badly constructed but accurate statement into two jaw-dropping misstatements in a lede which previously had the redeeming virtue of being all factually correct. Subsequent lede edits by others did not help. I have just done some more work there. As I see the matter, while the rest of the mess gets sorted out at least the lede can be serving as a usefully clear and accurate summary that enlightens rather than confuses the passing reader—in effect, a decent stub with an appended indecent work in progress.
It was I who created the "The process" section with its several subsections, which you find objectionable, in order to organize material I found scattered and in some cases duplicated throughout the article, as well as to provide a disciplining framework on which any additions or elaborations other editors saw fit to make could be neatly hung. Would one big hairball paragraph, or an untamed series of small ones, or a column of bullet points, be better form?
One of those subsections, "Clipping the corners and bending the edges of the plate", which is someone else's later addition, serves as a fine example of one of the article's two biggest problems (the other being its overall lack of logical organization): a level of detail which may delight a specialist but will quickly cause the average reader's eyes to glaze over. The information-friendly solution would seem to be the creation of some daughter articles. This article has been rated as of high importance within its field, so surely the existence of subsidiary articles would not be out of line. There could be a "Daguerreotype plate" article with tangential information about plate manufacture, corner-clipping and the like, perhaps with some illustrations of plate hallmarks. There could be a "Daguerreotype camera" article to accommodate details about alternative camera designs and the evolution of lenses. "Invention of the daguerreotype" could deal with the mysteries and controversies surrounding the pre-1839 history of the process, the subject of commendable recent scholarly research by one of my fellow editors and something that I, too, find fascinating, but which is arcana that will only befuddle the average reader of this article. AVarchaeologist (talk) 11:45, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Earlier versions of the process section had problems, but I think it is fine now, despite it being possible to find parallel versions elsewhere. 1) To use the past passive The plate was fumed with sublimated iodine crystals at room temperature, and was developed in mercury fumes. Has the folowing problems Is the past passive signaling something regarded as complete and finished (an experiment carried out on a particular date) or is it signalling a discontinued process? 1) I had problems accepting it because the process is still used today. 2) Children whose language is not fully developed do not a row of sentences using passive tenses (or speakers of other languages whose English is not fluent). Khan's video solves this by using active sentences throughout, but then we are stuck with a word so unusual that it is difficult to find it in any other context. The daguerreotypist polishes the plate. The daguerreotypist fumes the plate with mercury vapour. etc. The choice of the imperative is just fine whether or not it is to be found elsewhere. RPSM (talk) 17:47, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
According to WP guidelines, the standard is that, when possible, the articles should be comprehensible to a high school student of normal intelligence. There are Wikipedias in many different languages to serve people not fluent in this one. Neither consideration for the less than fluent, nor for the very young or even the developmentally disabled, should be constraining the text. The present tense seems appropriate for a video showing a demonstration (I can't stream videos, haven't seen it), but the process is obsolete, even though not extinct, and the past passive seems fine for a written description of it.
The problem with this article lies not in nuances of grammar, but in the fact that much of it comes across as a jumble of raw research notes, not linearly or logically organized, sometimes duplicative, and sometimes veering off into tangential subjects (e.g. the history of the camera obscura) already well-covered by other articles and warranting only the briefest of summaries here, or putting off the general reader with stumbling blocks of very esoteric minutiae (e.g. details of plate manufacture or prepping for the polishing operation) that ought to be relegated to footnotes or put into new specialized subsidiary articles. AVarchaeologist (talk) 07:01, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Cornell University Link - for reference[edit]

Dawn's Early Light - The First Fifty Years of American Photography - Cornell University Explains briefly why the daguerreotype held its own against the competing Calotype RPSM (talk) 14:47, 25 February 2015 (UTC)


(p. 439)

               Engraving with asphalt                                              1827   6 hours
               Daguerrotypy  with silver iodide                              1839   30 minutes
               Talbotype with gallic acid developer                       1841   3 minutes
               Wet collodion process                                      1851   10 seconds
               Collodion silver bromide emulsion                          1864   15      "
               Gelatine silver bromide at the time of invention            1878    1- 1/200  second
               Gelatine silver bromide                                   1900 1/1000         "            
RPSM (talk) 22:40, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
Under what lighting conditions? Using what lens aperture? Absent some common frame of reference, those numbers are of little value except as a very rough sketch showing forward progress. The overwhelming consensus of sources is that, with bright sunlight and using an f/14 Chevalier lens, an iodized-only daguerrotype plate required an exposure ranging from about 5 to 15 minutes, maybe 3 to 20 at the outside, depending on time of day, season and latitude. Several early experimenters attempting portraiture cobbled together beefy uncorrected lenses in the f/2 range and brought the exposure time down to less than a minute, but spherical aberration, curvature of field and other defects resulted in image quality unfit for public consumption.
In 1900, using the very fastest dry plate and a very fast lens, an exposure of 1/1000th of a second in bright sunlight was just possible, but the "sunny 16" rule of thumb familiar to photographers who use manually operated film cameras (i.e., with bright sunlight and an aperture setting of f/16, the correct shutter speed is the reciprocal of the ASA/ISO film speed) shows that, with an f/14 lens, a 1/1000th exposure would have required an emulsion speed of nearly ASA/ISO 1000, and no such emulsion was commercially available until fast Polaroid instant B&W film was introduced around 1960. Kodak Tri-X Pan, ASA/ISO 400, came out in 1954 and was for many years the fastest non-Polaroid film available. In 1940 a film speed equivalent to about ASA/ISO 100 was considered extremely fast. The fastest plates available in 1900 were probably not much above ASA/ISO 25 equivalent. A state-of-the-art super-fast lens, used wide open, was needed to get good results with an exposure that short.
Clearly, unless the omission is yours, Eder discredits this tabulation by not specifying two of the three parameters and, at least in the case analyzed above, blatantly letting one (lens aperture and consequent image brightness) vary wildly, with the result that he is comparing apples to oranges or cherries.
Bear in mind too that Eder's book, written in German, was originally published sometime around 1905 and embodies chunks of material he had published years before. His final edition apparently came out in 1932. There have been considerable advances in scholarship about the pre-collodion-era history since then. The later dates given for his book (1945, 1978 et al) are those of editions of an English translation. It had an exalted reputation in its time and on most topics it remains a respectable and authoritative source, but it does contain errors, eccentricities and biases which it must share responsibility for propagating through many subsequent sources that have incautiously accepted everything in it as received truth. AVarchaeologist (talk) 22:29, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

Edit on Voigtländers all-metal camera from Eder - now reverted - saved here for possible use[edit]

The Voigtländer all-metal camera in the shape of a truncated cone took round plates and the directions for its use read:

Directions for the use of the new daguerreotype apparatus for the making of portraits, executed according the the calculations of Professor Petzval by Voigtländer and Son, Vienna, printed by J.P.Sollinger, August 1, 1841.

The person to be photographed must be seated in the open air. For an exposure by overcast, dark skies in winter 3 ½ minutes is sufficient; on a sunny day in the shade 1½ to 2 minutes are enough, and in direct sunlight it requires no more than 40-45 seconds. The last, however, is seldom employed on account of the deep shadows necessarily obtained (See 5th number of the Verh. d. n. ö. Gew. Verein, Vienna 1842, p. 72.)

[1][2] although its unusual design did not catch on and was not a commercial success.

Eder (History of Photography) has p 275 FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF PORTRAIT POTOGRAPHY BY INCREASED SENSITIVITY OF DAGUERREOTYPE PLATES J.F.Goddard in London, Fr. Kratochwila and the Brothers Natterer, in Vienna. and gives reduced exposure times (eight seconds on a cloudy day) five-fold reduction in exposure times by using bromine and chlorine vapours containing at least 50% bromine. (Kratochwila's observation) RPSM (talk) 23:30, 8 March 2015 (UTC)


Australian site[edit] (Proper use of the headrest) (necessity of ordering cases for daguerreotypes in advance to be able to set up in business: click on Goodman, George B) RPSM (talk) 02:33, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

Heads up—prepare for incoming—1837 Huet dag about to be sold[edit]

The purported 1837 portrait of M. Huet by Daguerre is scheduled to be sold at auction, by the firm of Pierre Bergé, in Paris on 19 March 2015. It will probably fetch a fabulous seven-figure price. The big-number interest will then propel the news throughout the mainstream media and the internet, and if past incidents are any guide, the consequence here will be that editors with little or no background knowledge will be falling over each other rushing to add something to any WP article even remotely related. Expect erroneous statements to be faithfully reported in the news items and compounded by errors due to naive WP contributors, prepare to speedily make the needed repairs and corrections. AVarchaeologist (talk) 05:12, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Update: If an early report in Le Monde is correct, there were no takers at whatever the minimum bid was. One less prospective housekeeping chore to attend to. The estimate was 600,000 to 800,000 euros, presumably with hopes for a much higher final price. Setting aside the possibility of a flea market hoax (there are precedents, like the ostensible De Reszke gramophone record snagged by a famous collector who thought he'd made the find of the century), it may have occurred to potential buyers that someone with a faulty memory could have jotted down the wrong year at some later date. No handwriting analysis expertise is needed to see that the capital D of what some want to believe is the start of Daguerre's signature looks nothing like the distinctive open-topped D consistently found in authentic signatures and may simply be the remains of someone's pencil notation that it is a daguerreotype. Common sense and caution do sometimes prevail. AVarchaeologist (talk) 05:16, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

Histoire de la photographie (PO[edit]

Reference to chemical acceleration of daguerreotypes[edit]

 The Daguerreotype: Nineteenth-Century Technology and Modern Science  By M. Susan Barger, William B. White

At bottom of p. 36 in reference above "Arago had well-meaningly presented Daguerre as a scientist, but Daguerre was not a scientist." (Eder says the same thing noting that Daguerre did not know some specific aspect of basic chemistry) Hence my aim to erase in article the statement that Daguerre was a chemist. There is no source for this statement and there exists sources to say that Daguerre was not a scientist and not a chemist. Perhaps Arago helped him - we do not know to what extent. RPSM (talk) 14:56, 2 July 2015 (UTC)

This is an article with a reference to the origin of the word physautotype that I was trying to fit in somewhere.[edit]

The physautotype was an improvement on Niépce's heliograph, and details of the process were published together with the Diorama and daguerrotype. I am noting it here so as not to lose the reference. RPSM (talk) 13:23, 13 June 2016 (UTC)

John Johnson in England (helped Richard Beard to set up a portrait studio)[edit] RPSM (talk) 15:55, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

"The birth year of photography" or "Photography was born" is used in two distinct ways and with reference to three different dates[edit]

Daguerre was present, but complained of a sore throat. Later that year William Fox Talbot announced his silver chloride "sensitive paper" process.[39] Together, these announcements cause commentators to choose the 1839 as the year photography was born, or made public, although of course Daguerre had been producing daguerreotypes since 1835 and kept the process secret,[40] and Fox Talbot's first photographs had been made "in the brilliant summer of 1835"

The phrase "The year photography was born" or "the birth year of photography" is used in two ways. 1) to define the invention of photography - the first photograph taken with or by a camera 2) the announcement of the daguerreotype, the first practicable commercial process

1) was dated at 1822 by Isidore Niépce from a family tradition, the date supported by the engraver, Lemaitre. In fact centenary celebrations were held at the Sorbonne to mark the date 1822 in (1925) Eder did further research and fixed the date of the first photograph as no earlier than 1826.

2) is the year 1839.The Michigan Technic, 1882

Eder, writing in 1931, uses the phrase "the birth year of photography" meaning 1822 - that his research revised to 1826 (at the earliest). (Eder History of Photography, 4th edition pp 200 - 205

The bicentenary of the invention of photography (the first photograph taken with a camera) by Nicéphore Niépce will be in 2016.RPSM (talk) 17:17, 2 November 2016 (UTC)

The phrase the birth of photography has been used by different authors to mean different things: - either the publicizing of the process (in 1839) as a metaphor to indicate that previous to that the daguerreotype process had been kept secret; or, the date the first photograph was taken by or with a camera (using the asphalt process or heliography thought to have been 1822, but Eder's research indicates that the date was more probably 1826 or later. [1][2] and Fox Talbot's first photographs had been made "in the brilliant summer of 1835"[3]

Unfortunately, simply transferring copy from the web to the article in certain cases, such as this one, ...

The wording currently used in the History of photography lede, "It was commercially introduced in 1839, a date generally accepted as the birth year of practical photography", accords with the consensus of post-Eder ink-on-paper histories. "Birth", used in the context of an account of the preceding developmental work, is reasonably understood to mean its departure from the secret "womb" of the laboratory into the public world, however viable it may have been at an earlier date.
Somewhere along the line, perhaps a victim of the clutter (albeit IMO interesting clutter) of recent additions, this article has lost what is often considered to be the biggest red-letter date in photography: the public announcement of the process (without working details) on 7 January 1839, which caused worldwide excitement, prompted Talbot to go public with his "photogenic paper" process, and led many less worthy claimants to seek credit as "inventors" of photography based on old experiments with silver nitrate. An inexcusable omission. (talk) 00:21, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

Mercury fuming box owned by Samuel Morse[edit]

RPSM (talk) 17:19, 3 November 2016 (UTC)


The story line here is that the daguerreotype was not the first photographic process, and that daguerreotype pushed the inventor of photography - Nicéphore Niépce, into the background. 1839 was not the date of the invention of photography - Nicéphore died in 1833 and had invented photography in 1826 or 1827. There are no other inventions that are dated only from the date of their having been patented or publicized.

Maison Nicéphore Niépce and Daguerre

Helmut Gernsheim and Nicéphore Niépce

link ( Has a few errors (including pronunciation of Niépce, tin instead of pewter and 1822 instead of 1826/1827 - date of first photograph - revised by Eder in "History of Photography") but a few interesting insights.

RPSM (talk) 17:35, 3 November 2016 (UTC)

1839 is the date of the introduction of the first practical photographic process (which excludes much earlier published experiments with silver nitrate et al), and may reasonably be called the "birth year" of practical photography (please see comments recently added to "The birth year of photography ..." section above).
Eder is more than a little opinionated and nationally biased on the subject of early photographic history. At least one of the editions of his book (the last was in 1932, known to English-speakers through a 1945 translation) credits Schulze as the "inventor of photography" based on his experiments with silver nitrate and chalk, and credits an 1839 German newspaper article, the existence and correct dating of which have apparently never been independently confirmed, with the first appearance of the word "photography", at the expense of Herschel's well-known and well-documented coinage and uses of it. (talk) 00:44, 16 July 2017 (UTC)

Scottish daguerreotpye photographers[edit]

RPSM (talk) 12:24, 1 December 2016 (UTC)


Liz Rideal RPSM (talk) 13:44, 1 December 2016 (UTC)

"Although the invention of photography is dated at approximately 1839, it is more correct to date the fixing of an image at this time."

Suppression of Nicephore Niépce's inventions and Isidore's anger at this

RPSM (talk) 16:20, 1 December 2016 (UTC)

Link[edit] RPSM (talk) 14:47, 1 December 2016 (UTC)

Info on Claudet's background[edit],_Antoine_Fran%C3%A7ois_Jean_(DNB00)

Run-on sentences and Potential bias[edit]


- I wonder if the third section in this article could be reworded? It is a long, run-on sentence which may be completely grammatical, but is a bit distracting and somewhat difficult to follow.

- Could the beginning of the fourth section do with some different wording as well? "Viewing a daguerreotype is unlike looking at any other type of photograph" seems not only biased towards daguerreotypes, but also does not expressly explain why it is "unlike looking at any other type of photograph".

Thank you DeerChelsea (talk) 04:45, 6 February 2017 (UTC)DeerChelsea

In answer to the second question, see Janet E. Buerger French Daguerrotypes page 6 fourth paragraph When a daguerreotype is reproduced by another photographic process - usually photogravure for printing in books and on the web - you are no longer looking at an original daguerreotype with the weird realistic effect that accompanies the viewing experience of the original silvered plate. There are some good daguerreotypes on display in the Metropolitain Museum. The quote is also mentioned here RPSM (talk) 14:07, 19 July 2017 (UTC)

I suppose it is a bit like explaining colors to a blind person. RPSM (talk) 16:21, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^ Eder History of Photography pp. 200 - 205
  2. ^ "A Daguerreotype of Daguerre". National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  3. ^ Fox Talbot Metropolitain Museum