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

On this day (February 8) in the year 1889, the following article appeared in "The Photographic Times and American Photographer" (New York, Vol. XIX, No. 386; pp. 73-4): - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - THE FIRST MAN TO MAKE DAGUERREOTYPE PLATES.-- The Waterbury Daily Republican, of January 28th, states that August Brassart, who resides at 209 South Main Street, was the first person in the world to make the Daguerreotype photographic plates. It was in 1838. Mr. Brassart was then residing in Paris and was employed in a large factory in the gay French capital. Mr. Daguerre, who had been making some crude experiments in the line of the new photographic process which afterwards took his name and became exceedingly popular for a while, came to the proprietor of the factory one day and told him that he wanted to get some plates polished in a particular manner that was very difficult. He made no mention of the purpose to which he proposed to put them. The proprietor informed him that the plates could not be made, as the process was impossible. Mr. Daguerre, who was a quick and nervous man, impulsively said: "Let me see your polisher." He was shown to Mr. Brassart, and, describing to him the difficult and delicate polish that he wished for his plates, asked him if it could be done. Mr. Brassart promptly replied: "It can." He worked at the plates for five or six weeks before he had the slightest intimation of their object, and when he was informed that they were to be used for photographic purposes he took it for a huge joke. But the experiments made with the plate that Mr. Brassart had so elaborately polished were successful, and Daguerre's new process of photography passed from possibility to reality. For the seven years following 1839 Mr. Brassart served in the French army, that being the length of time that Frenchmen were then obliged by law to be engaged in military services. When he left the army he went into the Daguerreotype business for himself, in Paris. In 1853 he was engaged to come to America for the purpose of making Daguerreotype plates here. For the past nine years Mr. Brassart has had a photographic studio in Naugatuck. He goes down to that place each morning, returning on the 4 o'clock train in the afternoon. Physically he is a short and rather thickset man with a white beard. In conversation he exhibits all the nervous animation characteristic of the typical Frenchman. -------------------------------------------------------------- 02-08-97

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