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

On this day (December 7) in the year 1839, the following article appeared in "The Albion; a Journal of News, Politics and Literature" (New York) Vol. 1, No. 49 (7 December 1839) page 391: - - - - - - - Daguerreotype.--This remarkable process has largely engaged public attention both in Europe and America; attempts have been made to improve upon it, to vary from it, and to impose new names upon the original principle. M. Daguerre has consequently had much trouble in vindicating his claim to originality, as well as in protesting against innovations tending to deteriorate the value and utility of his process. To this end a friend of his, M. Gourand, has arrived in this country and is about to exhibit numerous specimens of the Daguerreotype in proof of both its excellence and beauty. We have been favored with a private examination of these specimens and are free to confess that they exceed anything of which we had any conception. The nature of the process has been freely described over and over again; but, in the manipulations, as well as great care and attention, are necessary; and hence it is that the effects produced by M. Daguerre are so far superior to those of others. The pictures are, in the strictest sense, nature itself in little. The degree of light and shade on the plate are as nicely adjusted as that of the subject itself from whence it is derived. The figures and prominent parts stand out in round and accurate relief, softened with the utmost delicacy, and in the smoothness as well as quality of shade they are beyond all imitation. Of course the pictures are the reverse of the originals, and this only is the point of difference; for so minutely correct is the reflection of the solar light, that objects altogether imperceptible to the eye, are reflected on the picture and discoverable by the help of a magnifier. We know not whether M. Gourand intends to lecture on this interesting subject, but we find him both ready and clear in his explanations to inquirers. It will doubtless result in great advantages to the arts, although, so new is the subject, it would be premature yet to point out its peculiar adaptations. In the meanwhile we most strongly commend this exhibition to the attention of the curious. (As always, original errors of spelling maintained, in this case the mis-spelling of Gouraud as "Gourand." --G.E.) -------------------------------------------------------------- 12-07-98

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