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

On this day (August 24) in the year 1849, Nancy Southworth Hawes penned the following letter to her brother, then absent--having gone to the gold fields of California: - - - - - - - - - 5 1/2 Tremont Row Aug. 24, 1849 Dear Brother,-- Here I am at 5 1/2 Tremont Row as usual, except, that instead of being upstairs, I am staying most of the time in the Exhibition Room. . . . . . . . . . .Our last customer to-day has been Laura Washburn (now Mrs. Maynard) of Tennessee. She with her husband and children has been visiting her friends in Royalton, and they are now on their way back. This morning she is having some work done at Miss Conley's [dressmaker] and her husband came in to look at the daguerreotypes. After looking them over, and expressing his admiration of them, he stepped back to Miss C's door and requested a lady to come in and look at two or three. I was busy on the other side of the room. I did not see her face at all, as the she only stopped a moment, but as she passed out of Miss Conley's a second time, she caught a glimpse of my portrait [a life size oil painting by Hoyt] and immediately exclaimed "There is one of my sold scholars!" and walked in. I did not recognize her, though she insisted upon my doing so, until she called her little boy and said, "This child's name is Washburn," Now do you recollect me?" She stayed an hour or two and had her daguerreotype--was very agreeable and ladylike. Mr. and Mrs. Sherwin were in last week; they did not know that you had left us [absent in California for two years] Mrs. Sherwin is as pretty as ever. Mr. Dorr is a constant visitor here, whenever in the city. Kellogg is back again with the Greek Slave and other pieces of statuary by Powers. "Proserpine," "The Fisher Boy" "General Jackson" The Proserpine is called very beautiful, and is the same as the one Mr. Brooks offered you to copy. Grace Greenwood, too, is in this vicinity. She called here last week, shook hands cordially with me!!, admired the daguerreotypes, saw her own at the door, and did not even request to have it taken away; so you see I intend to like her very much for the future. We have been getting up a new style for pictures, which I think will be rather pleasing. We have only made two, and they are liked well. They are made by covering the middle of a French plate, and copying on the outside one of the borders from a picture in Moore's Book of Beauty then cover the border, and in the centre take a likeness. It gives a very pretty finish to the picture and, by experimenting, I think we shall be able to make some very pretty things in this way. (The letter continues, but I do not possess a reference copy of the remainder. This text is cited from a later transcript of an original. This transcription is from the collection of the George Eastman House. It is believed that during the period the collection was still in the Hawes family possession, they went through the correspondence and extracted parts of certain letters, keeping the originals for themselves. Words in brackets were obviously added by the later hand. Two examples of the style of pictures to which Nancy refers in the last paragraph can be seen as plate 23 & 24 of Sobieszek, Robert A. and Odette M. Appel, "The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes." The correct title for "Moore's Book of Beauty" is " The Beauties of Moore: A Series of Portraits, or, The Poet's Gallery of Beauty" and the specific border used in the extant examples is from a plate entitled "Black and Blue Eyes.") -------------------------------------------------------------- 08-24-98

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