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

Two items today: * * * * * * * * * * * * * On this day (February 20) in the year 1840, the following item appeared in "The Herald" (Newburyport, Massachusetts): --------------------------------------------------------- NEWBURYPORT LYCEUM. The lecture of Dr Perkins, before this institution on Friday evening last, was highly satisfactory to a crowded auditory. The subject--the Daguerreotype, or Solar Painting--was one which could not fail, from its novelty, to interest the auditory. That any process could be contrived, which would take an accurate representation of an object by the operation of light alone, seems to be perfectly miraculous. Of the fact, however, there can be no doubt. We have seen the pictures of Dr Perkins, and can bear testimony to the fidelity of the representation. He exhibited several on the evening of the lecture, and one of them may now be seen at Mr Gray's. We are not usually in the habit of taking public notice of Lyceum lectures, but the persevering industry by which Dr Perkins has succeeded in obtaining photographic delineations, and that by an easier and more expeditious mode than that of the original invention, in our opinion deserves notice, and we hope that our friends in the neighboring towns may have an opportunity of seeing and hearing his lecture. (a note: a number of Perkins views are still in existence, one of them is included in the exhibtion catalogue for "Secrets of the Dark Chamber" (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonsian Institutional Press, 1995; page 53) * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * and an item from the 1850 "Boston Evening Transcript" MR PLUMBE IN CALIFORNIA. We have a letter from Mr Plumbe, the gentleman who originated in Iowa, many years since, prior to Whitney and others, the plan of a Pacific railroad. The letter is dated Sacramento City, Nov 26th, and in it Mr Plumbe says: "I have just arrived at this city, after having crossed our continent, via the South Pass, with the view of satisfying myself, from personal observation, whether the project I have so long agitated of a railroad from the Atlantic to the Pacific, was really entitled to the attention of the nation, which I have ever believed myself warranted in claiming for it. As the result of my examination, it affords me the greatest pleasure to have it in my power to report that the importance of the work, as well as the facility for its construction are, in my estimation, much greater than I had supposed, before seeing for myself." * * * * * (Note: We can only conjecture that Plumbe took along to California the daguerreotype views that he had proudly exhibited in the East; the views that fell into obscurity until purchased by Mike Kessler and Larry Shirer in 1971. Mike Kessler's account of finding the Plumbe daguerreotypes is given in his article "Once In A Lifetime!"; in "The Photographist - Journal of the Wetern Photographic Collectors Association"; No. 99; Fall 1993.) ----------------------------------------------------------------- 02-20-96

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