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

After my 01-11-99 posting about microscopic daguerreotypes, Joan Hostetler responded with the following, which I've saved in queue for today (March 25): "Your posting today about microscopic daguerreotypes has reminded me of an early Indiana daguerreotypist who mentioned the idea of viewing daguerreotypes of the moon with a microscope. I'm trying to determine the extent of his use of daguerreotypes in the classroom. Unfortunately, a campus fire would have destroyed his daguerreotype apparatus, and I've not yet found confirmed examples of his work. His many letters to his brother and father in Philadelphia are, unfortunately, written in Latin--but the word "daguerrotypio" is used. I hope to have a Latin professor translate them when I return to IU this Spring. The letters also mention G. Henry--who is probably the amateur daguerreotypist George Henry who exhibited at the Franklin Institute in Oct. 1840." --Joan Hostetler ------------------ "The Extra Equator" vol. 1, No. 2, (March 25, 1841) page 112: Heliography.--A few days ago we employed a moment of leisure in the College Laboratory [Indiana University], which has been recently built and furnished for the Chair of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy, and is now occupied by Prof. WYLIE and his class. That which particularly occupied our attention was the apparatus for heliographic drawing, which Prof. W. has in progress of construction and now nearly finished, and a print of the daguerreotype representing a corner of Ninth and Market streets, Philadelphia. Our readers know, that making pictures by the Daguerreotope [sic] is the recent invention or discovery of a French artist, Mons. Daguerre. The picture is obtained by means of a camera obscura, and made permanent, upon a burnished silver plate, by the mere operation of the light. But, before the plate is ready for the picture, it has to be submitted to the action of several chemical agents, requiring a nicety of application and address which we did not stay to learn. The picture itself, however, when obtained in this way, is a most splendid exhibition. It gives, not only the exact outline and perspective, but the most accurate shading of every tint of color, even up to nature, as perfectly as you can obtain the shadow in a camera. It is really a magnificent triumph of art and the dazzling polish of the plate, for the ground, seems only to heighten the effect of the drawing or print, as we would better like to call it. There is no copy-right incumbrance upon this invention. The French Government, if we are correct, rewarded the fortunate discoverey [sic] with a large sum of money and made the knowledge and use of the art a free gift to all. The importance of this discovery is understood by every one, but its value can be hardly appreciated till by its means, we come into the actual possession of the miniatures and pictures of whatever may be stereotypes in our dearest and holiest recollections. Joan provides the following notes: -The Extra Equator was a "weekly devoted to science & literature," published in Bloomington, Indiana by John Dale and A. E. Drapier. -"Prof. Wylie" was Theophilus A. Wylie (1810-1895), a native of Philadelphia and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who was a professor of natural philosophy and chemistry at Indiana University (1837-1880s). Here are some excerpts from his diaries (located at the Indiana University Archives): Jan. 3, 1841: Have been busy teaching as usual & getting a daguerreotype apparatus made...Friday AM began to arrange my camera...Saturday busy with the camera obscura. Jan. 13, 1841: It occurred to me while in a revery that perhaps it would be possible to daguerreotype the moon and planets and then view the plates by a microscope. If this could be done it would be an excellent way of turning the microscope into a telescope. Apr. 1, 1841: I have much to do this vacation--I want to ramble a little after some minerals--I want to study some mathematics--I want to try my daguerreotype apparatus--I want to fix up the laboratory and the library--I want to make some apparatus for electromagnetism. All these things for college & some things about home. I feel a nothing-to-do- ishness coming over me which I fear will keep me from doing any thing. -------------------------------------------------------------- 03-25-99

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