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

In July of 1852, the following editorial appeared in "The Photographic Art-Journal" Vol. 4, No. 1 (July 1852) pp. 62-63. Under the section heading "Gossip," the text gives an overall philosophy of the journal: " . . .For ourselves we must give the preference to paper photographs, over the daguerreotype . . ." Although there is wealth of information found in the PAJ regarding the daguerreotype (and much of that is yet to be "mined") yet there certainly is a bias for paper- based photography discussion among its pages. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - GOSSIP. SINCE we commenced the publication of this Journal, the art of photography has made rapid strides all over the world; not so much in the new discoveries made as in improvements of the old. In France MM. Evrard, Le Gray, Renard, Mestral and others, have so improved the processes on paper that many have thrown entirely aside the metallic plate; so also in England, notwithstanding the shackles thrown around the art by Talbot's patents. In our own country few have attempted with any degree of success this branch, until the persevering efforts of Mr. Whipple of Boston, has won for him the praise of all who have seen his fine photographs. For ourselves we must give the preference to paper photographs, over the daguerreotype, although we have no doubt it will be many months, perhaps years, before the latter will be superceeded by the former, principally on account of the daguerreotype being much less difficult, and consequently cheaper. Those, however, who first introduce the paper process to the public in our large cities, will undoubtedly make money, for there are very few men of taste who would not prefer the beautifully bold, warm toned and mezzotint-like photograph, to the cold, semi-distinct and glaring daguerreotype. There is one great drawback to any decided improvement in the daguerrean art in this country, equally applicable to those who preach reform and improvement as to those who deride and scoff at it. We have often spoken of it and we mean still oftener to speak of it, until we have succeeded in putting sufficient ambition into the minds of our artists to make farther comment unnecessary. We mean that selfish, mean disposition of keeping every improvement made a secret. What artist in this country has ever derived on cent advantage over his brother artist by such a course? We venture to say, not one. In the whole course of our observation we can only point to such persons as objects of ridicule and suspicion. To sustain us in our assertions we have only to point out the liberal course of Mr. Hesler, of Galena, Ill., Whipple, of Boston, Davie, of Utica, Johnson and others of this country, and Claudet of London, as eminent examples of the success of those who make known their improvements to the public. The former gentleman particularly has been most liberal in communicating his knowledge, and the consequence is an overflowing patronage. By this liberal course to his fellow artists he has gained the entire confidence of the public, and his success in consequence is unprecedented at the west. We know that while others in that region are merely doing what is called a paying business he is making a fortune. It is much to be regretted that there is so little sympathy or liberality among out American Daguerreotypists, but we look forward to the time when the sentiments now prevalent will take to themselves wings and flee away. When that day arrives a new era will dawn upon the art in this country, and some advancement will be made. -------------------------------------------------------------- 07-21-98

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