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  The research archive of Gary W. Ewer regarding the history of the daguerreotype

Two items for today. . . On this day (January 25) in the year 1840, the following brief news item appeared in the "New-York Observer" (Vol. 18, No. 4): --------------------------------------------------------------- THE DAGUERREOTYPE IN SPAIN.--At Barcelona, according to the Monituer Parisien, a fate was got up not many days since, on the first exhibition of the Daguerreotype. An immence crowd assembled in the square, where the instrument was set up, with banners and music, and so great was the contest for the impression, when taken, that it was disposed of by lottery. * * * * * * * * * * * * The following article appeared in the January 1895 issue of the "St. Louis and Canadian Photographer" (St. Louis, Missouri. Vol. 13, No. 1, page 25-6): - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Leaves From the Diary of a Photographer. Some sitters would endure with patience the long sittings required for a picture during the early days of the Daguerreotype, others would consider it a great hardship. One old gentleman, the head of a large dry goods house, wished twelve pictures for his children and friends; of course he must site twelve times. He seemed to get along very well for the first five or six, but he became sleepy, and we had to wake him up at every subsequent sitting. We always kept sticking wax to keep wing-shaped ears from standing out from the head, and often used a wad of cotton to fill out hollow cheeks. The ladies called the plumpers. A mother on bringing her daughter for a picture said: "Now make me darter look nice, its for the gentleman that's payin tentions to her." A clergyman who wore an old-fashioned high white cravat carried his head so high that I could not get a picture without showing his nostrils. It was he, that a talkative woman made a remark about. She said, "When that man dies, the undertaker will not have much trouble, as he is already laid out." The best advice I ever heard as to expression was from a country girl to her intended. She said, "Now, Josh, kinder smile and kinder don't." The door is slowly opened, and an old colored man modestly enters, taking his hat off, and making a low bow; he wants his telegraph taken wid out no hat on." A boy and his sister sits for a group; as they come from behind the screen the boy asks, "Does it make any difference if you rub your nose?" He is told it does. "But why did you do it?" "Because a fly was walking over my nose and I brushed him off." Pat does not like his picture, with arms akimbo he says, "Me nose turns up and me mouth turns down, and I'll not have it at tall." Judge------ was sitting for a picture, and his friend said, "Now, Judge, look dignified, just as you did the last time you sentenced a man to b hung." The Judge said, "I don't know about that, as that man was reprieved." A man once told me his picture looked like the devil. I told him I could not say as to the likeness, as I had not seen that personage, but sometimes a resemblance ran all through families. Pat brought a small case, and said he wanted his picture in it life size. He was told the box was too small to hold a life-size picture. He stood a minute and said, "Then take it with the legs hanging down." A country man went out to get his boots blackened, as he was to have a dead taken for a locket. An old lady called out in the middle of the sitting, "Stop it, stop it, I winked." A prominent clergyman after sitting in several positions said, "I wanted to move that time." I asked him if anything annoyed him, he said, "No, I think it was pure cussedness." In one of the city galleries the proprietor had a show case in which he exhibited pictures which the sitters failed to call for, he labeled it, "Shades of the departed." A letter from Wisconsin asks me to send the writer the pictures of Queen Victoria and all her daughters if I have them. He is told that she had not been in lately, but the first time she was in with the girls he should receive them, if they had their best clothes on and were willing to sit. A man gave me his address, Salt Lake City. He was a Mormon, and said he had three wives. I told him I would take a picture of the four heads of the family if he would bring them all in, without charge, as he was the most married man I had ever met. He said he had not brought them along, he was afraid of the dry goods stores; his pocket book might not be equal to the demands. I asked him how their duties were divided so as not to conflict, he said, "That was easy enough, that one helped him in his grocery store, another kept house, and the third dressed and spanked the children." And he said, "number three was about the busies one of the lot." On showing a husband the proofs of his wife's picture the operator threw one aside, saying it would not do, as she had allowed the end of her tongue to show. Let me see it said the man, I did not know there was any end to it. A photographer advertised to take deceased persons at their residences. He might find it difficult, as chemicals do not work well in hot climates. A mother brought a bouncing baby for a picture. As the operator came out of the dark room with his plate she was spanking the baby. He remonstrated with her, as she would spoil the expression. She said it was color she was after, as he always had such a good color after being well spanked. A lady said she wished to be taken two ways, "standing in her hat and sitting in her cap." As you please, but it is not usual for ladies to stand in their bonnets, and it would ruin your cap to sit in it. A Frenchman, having received the photograph of a lady, enquired, what was usual under the circumstances. He was told to compliment it, and say its beauty is very rare. "I beg to make the acknowledgment madam, zee beauty is very scarce." "Did you read in the papers about the man who had a cat photographed on his head by the lightning?" "Well," said Swipes, "I don't see anything wonderful about that; I once had a gridiron printed on my head without the lightning." "How did that happen?" "My wife did it." A young lady said, "That photographer is a handsome man, but I don't like him; he said I must take the chewing gum out of my mouth and keep my lips still. I wouldn't keep my lips still just to get a picture. A graduating class of twenty-three young girls were taken in a group; they all kept still the required time. The teacher said they had never kept still and stopped talking so long before in their lives. They made up for lost time by all talking at once for the next fifteen minutes. "You will take my picture easy," said a husband, "but my wife cannot stop talking long enough to have hers." As a boy with red hair goes behind the screen, his father says, "Now, Mike, stand straight, and hold aisy while the gentleman draws yer picter, you'll not be taken wid a black head anyway." The operator arranges two chairs for an engaged couple; the gentleman suggests that one chair will be sufficient. Stout people always wanted to be taken a little thinner, as they were stouter than usual just then. Thin people always wanted to be taken a little stouter, as they were thinner than usual just then. Large people wanted to look smaller, and small men always wanted to be taken to look large. Homely men wanted to look handsome. Homely women, well, we didn't have any. Somebody had said, "There is no woman so homely as not to be a pink in somebody's eye. A husband said, "He did not expect a handsome picture of his wife, he did not marry her for her beauty, but because she was good. The wife retaliates by saying, she did marry him for his good looks, but they did not wear well; all faded out in the first washing. A man had gone into politics, and his picture came out in a newspaper; on seeing it his wife began to cry. He asked her why she cried. She said, "If I had known you looked like that I never would have married you." It is said that a French woman on cleaning a fish discovered the likeness of the fisherman in one of the eyes of the fish. Like other fish stories this needs confirmation. An old lady on being told to look at a bird on a stand said, "La, sus, I thought I must look in the spout." General Logan had several sittings, and on looking at the pictures on the walls, say a man of considerable notoriety who had swindled him in a business transaction. He said, "I suppose you take any and everybody as they come along, and would take the devil if he would sell." I told him that was so, and I supposed "old Beelze" would sell well around Washington. The General said "that's the place to sell him." Abraham Bogardus. (original errors of spelling/grammer maintained --G.E.) ----------------------------------------------------------------- 01-25-97

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