go to HOME


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

On this day (September 5) in the year 1840, the following article appeared in the "Botanico-Medical Recorder" (Columbus, Ohio) Vol. 8, No, 25 (5 September 1840) page 394: - - - - - - - - DAGUERREOTYPE. The manner in which Daguerreotype miniature likenesses are taken, is thus described in the Mechanics' Magazine: Mr. Cornelius and Dr. Goodman are now occupied at their establishment, corner of Ledge Alley and Eight streets, Philadelphia, in taking likenesses, which are about seven by five inches, in neat metalic gilt frames, and are taken for five dollars. As the likenesses are true, the owners are very often too little flattered by the sun to be pleased with his painting; but, as the French artist said to a friend of mine who complained that he had made him look like an assassin, the Heliographist might reply, "Sir, that is not my fault." The mode of proceeding of Dr. Goodman and Mr. Cornelius, is in this wise: Out of the window of their room, having a southern exposure, is projected, horizontally and at full length, a large looking-glass to receive the rays of the sun in which are thrown up against another large mirror, so slanted as to throw the light against the person whose likeness is to be taken, sitting at the opposite side of room, with his face to the window. To soften the intense light thrown on the face of the mirrors, which would otherwise be intolerable, there is, suspended from the ceiling, a circular glass plate about three-eighths of an inch thick, of a very deep purple tinge, which had once been used in the laboratory of the distinguished chemist, Dr. Hare, for exciting electricity. When the operatee is seated on his chair, and subjected to the light transmitted thro' the purple glass, you would suppose all Mr. Cornelius wished was to make the fellow look "blue;" but he will be relieved from such apprehension very soon, as it is only necessary to sit about a minute; till the sun has, by his powerful pencil, transfixed every lineament of your features, with all their beauties and blemishes, in imperishable lines upon the plate of silver. Before the person and about four feet in front of him, is a bureau, on the top of which is a mahogany tube or box, six or seven inches square and eighteen inches long, open at both ends. In the end next to the person (to be represented) is fixed a double convex lens about the size of a common burning glass, but which the figure of the face and bust is diminished to the proper size for the plate of silver on which the likenesses are to be fixed. When the person is seated, the strong light is thrown from the mirrors, through the purple plate, upon the face and bust, and reflected thence through the lens and box, and is transmitted to the plate of prepared silver fixed at the other end of the box. Half a minute or more is sufficient to trace imperishably the delineation on the plate. -------------------------------------------------------------- 09-05-99

Return to: DagNews