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

On this day (October 7) in the year 1874, this reminiscence appeared in the "Juniata Sentinel Republican" (Pennsylvania): - - - - - - - - - - - - - How the Dog Got His Likeness Taken--As the story we are about to tell may seem incredible to some of our readers, we will preface it by stating that its literal truth is vouched for by a well-known lady of Lowell, Mass., Mrs C. A. Richardson, a sister-in-law of President Grant's Secretary of the Treasury. Caesar was a fine Newfoundland dog of great intelligence, owned by Mrs R. One morning she took the dog, with some of the children of her family, to a daguerreotype-room, with the view of having a picture taken of the group. For nearly an hour Mrs R. tried to place Caesar in a posture suitable for the purpose of getting a likeness; but, when she thought he was all right, he would slowly get up, shake his huge body, and, of course, spoil the picture. Annoyed at his conduct, Mrs R. opened the door, and, in a stern voice, said to Caesar: 'Go home, sir! You have displeased me very much: you shall not stay with us any longer.' Hereupon Caesar slunk away with a crestfallen look; and Mrs R. made no further attempt to put him in the picture. But the next day, much to her surprise, Caesar came home with a box tied round his neck. What could it mean? He seemed to be greatly pleased, and wagged his tail expressively while waiting for the opening of the box. His mistress was still more surprised when she found that it contained a fine daguerreotype of Caesar himself. At her earliest convenience she called on Mr S., the daguerreotypist, to inquire how he had succeeded in enticing the dog into his room, and keeping him quiet. Mr S. said, that on the morning following the failure, he heard a noise in the entry as if some one was thumping on the door. On opening it he found Caesar standing there with wistful and eager face. Mr S. tried to drive him away; but the dog insisted on entering; then walked to the old place directly in front of the instrument, and sat quietly down, as much to say: 'Now, sir, I am ready to make amends for my undignified behaviour of yesterday.' Seeing at once what the dog wanted, Mr S. took the hint, placed his instrument aright; and the result was a very fine picture. As soon as he saw that Mr S. had done with him, Caesar rose and stretched himself, with the satisfaction of one who had wiped out a disgrace by making reparation. He then waited for the daguerreotype which Mr S. tied around his neck, and trotted home with it to his mistress. After the specimen of his sagacity, Caesar was more a favourite than ever. He died many years ago, but the daguerreotype likeness which he obtained is still treasured in his mistress's family, and we are glad to be able to record this story in our pages as a tribute to his memory. (Cited, with introductory comments by Jay Ruby, in "History of Photography" 10:1 [January-March 1986] 81.) -------------------------------------------------------------- 10-07-97

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