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

On this day (June 4) in the year 1839, the following article appeared in the "New-York American" Vol. 21, No. 7311, (front page.) The bulk of the article outlines Talbot's process; I will give the opening paragraphs only. - - - - - - - - [ From a late Foreign Journal ] THE NEW ART. Half as many places contended for the honor of giving birth to Homer, are now contending for that of the invention or discovery of the new art of producing drawings, or pictures, or both; and certainly the discovery of a productive energy in nature heretofore unknown. No common object to the sight displays; but what with pleasure heav'n itself surveys. For now miracles have ceased, such discoveries and inventions (or revelations, if the phrase may be permitted) are the means by which Providence discloses new roads to social happiness. We scarcely yet know how to denominate this new art of producing pictures. M. Daguerre, the highly-talented Parisian dioramist, wished, and probably still wishes--to confer on it his own name, by academical authority; meanwhile, our own countryman, Mr. Talbot, (less ambitions,) has given to it--or given to that branch of it which he has explored, and explained to the Royal Society of London--the more scientific name of "Photogenic Drawing;" and the German practitioners call it Heliography. But America, also, has made some pretensions to the discovery, and we may possibly soon hear of a transatlantic appellation. Since, however, sunlight seems to be essential to its successful practice, we conceive the Sun has, at least, as good a right to insist upon the important "We," as he, who of old blew the organ bellows, and upon the same principle. Who has the best right to be esteemed the original inventor or discoverer? is a question we shall not discuss at present, further that to say, that a letter, published in the Literary Gazette, claims that distinction for a M. Niepsce, since deceased, but formerly the co- experimentalist of Mr. Daguerre. This gentleman seems to have the most satisfactory claims; but all parties must be heard--perhaps probed--and it may possibly then appear, that the new art may have been invented in more places than one; and so nearly at the same time, that more than one may, with justice, lay claim to the honor of originality. In many respects, but in one more particularly, which has always been held to be of a great academical difficulty--we mean the art of "fore-shortening"--Nature will become a severe school mistress. No anatomical or unacademical fore-shortenings will occur to the heliographist; since we know, well, that Nature puts every thing correctly in perspective, "and no mistake." Wherefore, for the present, and for the gratification of those of our readers who may also wish to expermentalize, we make publicly known, that with the concurrence of our ingenious philosophical countryman, Mr. Talbot, Messrs. Ackerman & Co. are preparing an easily portable apparatus, that will enable persons of accurate observation to produce photogenic drawings. Of which apparatus we submit the following description and directions for use: . . . . .remaining paragraphs not transcribed. The article gives, at the very end, the source for this account as: -- [The Probe.] -------------------------------------------------------------- 06-04-99

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