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

On this day (November 7) in the year 1898, Samuel C. Busey, M.D. addressed the Columbia Historical Society (Washington, D.C.) on the topic, "Early History of Daguerreotypy in the City of Washington." I've taken extracts regarding the Plumbe galleries from Dr. Busey's address which was published in "The Records of the Columbia Historical Society of Washington, D.C." Volume 3, 1900; pp. 81-95 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - In the Washington Directory and National Register for 1846, "compiled and published by Gaither and Addison," which, with other useful information, contains the "names, residences and employment of citizens" of this city at that date, I find the following: Plumb's Daguerrian Gallery (Concert hall Building), on Penn. Ave., between 6th and 7th Sts." Page 69. Among the advertisements, in the same volume, I find the following, printed in black ink on pale yellow paper: PLUMBE NATIONAL DAGUERRIAN GALLERY, And PHOTOGRAPHIC DEPOT, Founded 1840. Awarded the medal, Four First Premiums and Two Highest Honors, by the Institutes of Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, for the most beautiful Colored Daguerreotypes and best apparatus. CONCERT HALL, PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, WASHINGTON. 251 Broadway, New York. 75 Court street, Boston. 136 Chestnut st., Philadelphia. 205 Baltimore street, Baltimore. 56 Canal street, New Orleans. 127 Rue du Temple, Paris. 32 Church street, Liverpool. Broadway, Saratoga. Market street, St. Louis. Main street, Dubuque. Jefferson st., Louisville, and Main street, Newport. Portraits taken in any weather, in exquisite style. The following opinions of the press are selected promiscuously from an (almost) indefinite number: (From the National Intelligencer.) Plumbe's Daguerreotype Miniatures are decidedly the most perfect specimens of the art ever produced in this city. We have just seen an admirable likeness of Speaker Davis, which, apart from its fidelity, is unexceptionally the most artistic picture we have ever seen, and fully realizes all that the most fastidious can desire. We would recommend such of our friends as desire a counterfeit presentment of their features to make application to Professor Plumbe, at Concert Hall, Pennsylvania avenue. (From the United States Journal.) The Plumbe National Daguerrian Gallery, at Concert Hall, is an establishment whose superior merits are deserving the notice of all who feel an interest in the progress of the beautiful art of Photography; particularly those who wish to obtain elegant and life-like portraits of themselves or friends. Professor Plumbe has brought this wonderful art to a wonderful degree of perfection where further improvement seems problematical. The Professor's Gallery has been recently fitted up in elegant style, and its walls covered with a large number of new pictures, including those of many members of Congress and other distinguished individuals. We are pleased to learn that this ingenious artist is now engaged in taking views of all the public buildings in Washington, which are executed in a style of elegance that far surpasses anything of the kind ever seen. It is his intention to dispose of copies of these beautiful pictures, either in sets or singly, thus affording to all an opportunity of securing perfect representations of the government buildings, whose intrinsic value is hardly exceeded by their worth as specimens of the most wonderful art ever discovered. (From the New York Journal of Commerce.) The pictures of Plumbe are remarkable for their fidelity and distinctness, and delicacy of color. In saying that the Professor stands at the head of the Photographic art in this country, we but endorse an opinion universally prevalent. (From the New York Morning News.) Plumb's Portraits.--The distinguishing points in this artist's pictures are the distinctness with which every feature is produced on the plate, and the happy arrangement of lights and shades which render the whole figure so prominent, that seen in a strong or subdued light, the beauty and exactness of the picture are equally apparent. (From the New York Tribune.) A delight for after-years.--In after-years to retain in our possession the likeness of some one who has been beloved by us, is a delicious, even while sometimes a melancholy, pleasure. Such a pleasure can any one enjoy who patronizes Professor Plumbe, the celebrated Daguerreotype artist in Broadway. His pictures stand unrivaled by any in the world. (From the New York True Sun.) To those who love.--How cold must be the breast that does not love. How fickle the heart that wishes not to keep the memory of the loved for after-times. Such cold and fickle hearts we do not address; but all others we advise to procure miniatures of those they love, at Professor Plumb's life-copying Daguerreotype establishment. Portraits taken in fair and cloudy weather at all hours. Perfect satisfaction warranted in all cases. . . .in the Washington Directory and Congressional and Executive Register for 1850, complied and published by Edward Waite, the following is found: Plumbe's Daguerrean Gallery, Concert Hall, W. side Pa. Av, btw. 6 & 7 sts. Also the following advertsiments: Daguerrean Gallery, &c. PLUMBE NATIONAL GALLERY. Concert Hall, new Brown's Hotel. The proprietor of this well-known, highly popular, and long established Emporium of Photography, in order to keep pace with the rapidly increasing and extensive patronage, has found it necessary to make many new arrangements and additional improvements in the several departments, all of which tend to class this establishment with the most complete in the Union, possessing such facilities and advantages as to enable the proprietor to turn out specimens of the Daguerrean Art, which are pronounced by competent judges superior to any produced. By the addition of Mammoth Camera Apparatus and powerful Lenses, of an improved construction, lately imported from Germany and France, at considerable cost, the proprietor is also enabled to introduce Photographic Portraits of the largest size and of as unique finish as have ever been taken. The style of these Portraits cannot fail to induce a decided demand, and for family groups must be greatly admired. In the Chemical Department, may important improvements have been developed, which greatly facilitate the "Sitting," and give an exquisite tone and finish to the Picture. The Photographic arrangements are such, too, as obviate the heretofore unpleasant methods of sitting; for, by the combination of large Graduating Sky and Side Lights, a most complete artistic effect of beautifully blended lights and shadows is the result; thereby doing away entirely with the ghostly hues, distorted visages, and murky impressions ordinarily taken, and giving instead roundness of figure, bold relief, and general life-like appearance, which constitute the qualities of perfect Daguerreotypes. The repeated failures and inconveniences heretofore materially affecting the taking of Children's Miniatures are entirely overcome. Such can now be produced in perfection in a second or two of time. Portraits and Miniatures finished in a variety of styles, and every effort made to please. The public are solicited to visit the "Plumbe Gallery," and inspect the numerous beautiful specimens of art. B.P. PAIGE. (As always, original errors of grammar/spelling maintained including the variant spelling of "Plumbe." --G.E.) -------------------------------------------------------------- 11-07-97

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