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

During the month of March in the year 1892, the following article appeared in the "American Journal of Photography" (Philadelphia, Julius Sachse, edit.) Vol. 13, No. 137 (March 1892) pp. 127-128: - - - - - - - - - - - A VETERAN PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER* GEORGE FRANCIS SCHREIBER, who thirty-five years ago was a prominent photographer of this city, and well known throughout the country as a photographer, died recently of bronchitis, the outcome of an attack of la grippe. Mr. Schreiber was almost eighty-nine years of age, and was sick but a few days. He leaves eight children, six of whom are stalwart sons and finished photographers. Mr. Schreiber was born at Frankfort-on-the-Main January 10th, 1803, received an elementary education, and learned the trade of a printer, working afterwards as a journeyman at Bremen, Hamburg, and St. Petersburg. In 1834 he came to this country, and with a Mr. Schwatka established a paper called "Die Alte und Neue Welt--The Old and New World." Later, Frederick Langenheim, a relative of Voigtlander, a Vienna optician, whose descendants are famous as photographic instrument makers, obtained from him a camera obscura, accompanied with instructions for its use. Thus provided, Langenheim entered into partnership with Schreiber. Experiments were made in taking daguerreotypes at first on the roof of a building on Dillwyn street, just below Willow, in 1844, the children of Mr. Schreiber being used as subjects and models. When sufficient progress had been made a room was taken in the Philadelphia Exchange, at Third and Walnut streets, and later quarters were secured at No. 216 (old number) Chestnut street, partly occupied by James S. Earle as a picture store. Here a thriving trade was carried on, and Mr. Schreiber so improved in the art and science that he made a large sectional camera, and made a view of Niagara Falls that was highly complimented in the award of medals, and received a flattering letter from Queen Victoria. Mr. Schreiber was constantly investigating and improving his process of picture-making, and at this time Fox Talbot came with his talbotype that revolutionized the business for a while. Its imperfections soon began to retire it when, in 1848, Mr. Schreiber heard that glass had been used in Europe as a negative. He went to work in great earnest, and in a short time succceeded in printing through glass the first photograph ever made in America. These pictures were at first called "talbotypes on glass." Next Mr. Schreiber used ground glass, and produced the hyalotype, from which were evolved the first photographic stereopticon views in the world. Successful photographic prints were not made by the firm until several years later. As the art became better known the photographer grew fastidious, and strove to do better work. considerable difficulty was experienced in developing the negatives and in giving the prints a clear and perfect tone. While Mr. Schreiber was patiently striving to improve these matters the Langenheims withdrew from the firm, and Frederick went to Brazil to make daguerreotypes, while Mr. Schreiber, continuing the photographic business alone, removed to Fourth street and Harmony court. At this time negatives were developed by the use of gallic acid, and although the process was unsatisfactory and often uncertain, Mr. Schreiber's repeated attempts to improve upon it were not successful. In the mater of toning he was more fortunate, as he accidentally discovered a new process. A man named Cutting, a resident of Massachusetts, who had taken to photography, seeing one of these well-toned photographs, came to Philadelphia and offered Mr. Schreiber, in exchange for the secret of his thing, a process which he said would be worth millions. Cutting's preparation was a solution of gun cotton in ether, known as collodion, which has since come into universal use in photography. In compliance with a promise formerly made to his partner, Mr. Schreiber refused to give up his secret; otherwise his gain would undoubtedly have been great, both financially and in an artistic way. Mr. Schreiber afterwards removed to Arch street, where, under the name of Schreiber & Sons, he conducted a portrait studio for many years. Growing tired of the whims and caprices of human subjects, he abandoned this branch and devoted himself wholly to the photographing of domestic animals. Of late years, with the aid of several of his sons, Mr. Schreiber has made pictures of almost every crack bird and the most noted cattle and horses between the Gulf of Mexico and the upper border of Canada, not to mention his photographs of dogs and fancy fowls, while his "Studies from Nature" rank among the finest photographs the world has produced.--Telegraph. * this article was unavoidable crowded out of our last number. --------------------------------------------------------- 03-23-99

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