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

On this day (May 21) in the year 1840, Albert Sand Southworth took pen in hand and wrote the following letter to his sister Nancy: - - - - - - - Cabotville, May 21, 1840 My dear Sister, My mind has been in one constant scene of agitation and study. I told Brother S. in a letter written on board a steamboat, that you should know what I went to New York for. You have read of the daguerreotype, an apparatus for taking views of buildings, streets, yards, and so forth. I had an invitation to join Mr. Pennell one of my old roommates in old Phillips, in getting one, and partly to gratify my curiosity, and partly with the hope of making it profitable, I met Mr. Pennell in New York and purchased one. I cannot in a letter describe all the wonders of this apparatus. Suffice it to say, that I can now make a perfect picture in one hour's time, that would take a painter weeks to draw. The picture is represented in light and shade, nicer so far than any steel engraving you ever saw. The colors of objects are not given, but the picture is shown in light and shade. We have improved it much, since we commenced, so much, that we have been highly complemented by good judges. We have already sent some specimens to Europe. Mr. Ames showed them in New York, and they were pronounced superior to any made there. We doubt not but that in less than a month, we shall be able to take portraits and miniatures to perfection. The whole operation is conducted upon Philosophical Chemical and Mathematical principles. Mr. Pennell is now here, and it is not impossible that I may visit home this season in company with him. We think of going to Hanover with our apparatus, and if so, I shall go home to stay one night. You shall hear more of this hereafter. . . .[stops] (This text was excerpted from an original manuscript and copied by a later hand. Transcript in the collection of the George Eastman House.) -------------------------------------------------------------- 05-21-98

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