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

On this day (December 8) in the year 1842, the following advertisement appeared in the "Essex County Washingtonian (Salem and Lynn, Mass.; Vol. 1, No. 39): (Note from Gary: After sending this post, I received a few responses in regards to the advertisement. The responses are appended to the end of this file.) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - P L U M B E ' S DAGUERRIAN GALLERY 76 COURT & 122 WASHINGTON STS. BOSTON; 123 CHESTNUT ST. PHILADELPHIA; AND BROADWAY; SARATOGA SPRINGS. Constituting the oldest and most extensive establishment of the kind in the world, and containing nearly a thousand pictures! A D M I T T A N C E F R E E. The Proprietor, Professor of Pho- tography, has the pleasure an- nouncing, he has just succeeded in dis- covering an improvement in the Art, of such vast importance, as to throw completely into the shade, all the specimens of it heretofore seen. By a process confined exclusive- ly to this Establishment, and secured by Letters Patent, the inval- uable desideratum of producing COLOR'D PHOTOGRAPHS has been happily attained. Possessing the sole privilege of taking colored Daguerreotypes, the Patentee has reduced his terms to THREE DOLLARS for two Portraits, that all may now avail themselves of this now pre-eminently beauti- ful mode of obtaining likenesses. 'PLUMBE'S PATENT Daguerreotype Apparatus, Pa- tent Rights, Instruction, &c., supplied on reasonable terms. 'Plumbe's Patent ElectoGilding and Plating Establish- ment, attached to the Daguerrian Gallery, Court street, Boston. The Patentee will dispose of Rights, Apparatus and In- struction, for his new mode of Gilding, Silvering, &c., which can be supplied to metallic articles of every description-- and is so superior in all respects, as wholly to supercede the methods hitherto known. Prompt attention to paid letters--and to those only. Boston, dec 8 A note: The advertisement is accompanied by a wood-engraving of a man looking at an open daguerreotype and is reproduced on the web site of The Daguerreian Society at: http://www.daguerre.org/plumbe3.html * * * * * * * * * * The responses follow... Charlie Schreiner wrote: I've just started doing some research on daguerreotype patents and coincidently your Dec 8 included the above. I've ordered copies of all the patents relating to daguerreotypes from a listing of patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office from 1790 to 1873. There are about 50 or so and Plumbe's name isn't there. It is possible that Plumbe purchased the rights from another person or the inventor could've been an associate or employee. My list shows a patent issued for coloring daguerreotypes May 28, 1842 to B.R. Stevens & L. Morse of Lowell, Mass.. Another issued on Oct. 22,1842 to D. Davis, Jr. of Boston Mass. These are the first two (and the only in 1842) patents in the U.S. having to do with dags. Irving [Pobboravsky] and I have planned to do some experimenting over the winter. It occured to me that there might be some overlooked nuggets in patent material that would solve all our problems...what got me going on this in the first place. In seeing this advertisement, it came to mind to compare the claim in the ad to the actual patent, then try to duplicate the results. In your files, do you have other such ads boasting patented apparatus or processes? Also, if you are interested, the patent and its date of issue could be added to tidbits in DagNews. --Charlie * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Bill Becker wrote: Charlie's surmise is correct. In Newhall's 'Daguerreotype in America,' Third Revised Edition (Dover), p. 40: "Plumbe rapidly expanded his operations. He bought from Daniel Davis his patent for a way to color daguerreotypes by electroplating selected areas of the silver surface with various metals, and peddled it to daguerreotypists in New England. Lucius H. Cathan wrote Southworth from Townshend, Vermont: 'Mr. Plumbe has filled the country people's heads full, with the idea of his 'colored photography,' as I have seen but few of them, I could discover nothing so 'wonderful' or astonishing in those..." In his bio of Plumbe in the appendix, Newhall gives the patent number as "2.826" (probably a typo) and says Plumbe bought it from D. Davis Jr. in 1842. I saw one of these in Atlanta, and couldn't agree more with Cathan. I believe Cliff has one of the better examples, but even that falls far short of "color." Regards-- Bill * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Len Olarsch wrote: Hi Gary, With regard to Charlie Schreiner's question, I have a daguerreotype with the words " Plumbe's Patent Oct 22, 1842" on the bottom of a paper mat with chestnut design. Plumbe bought the rights to the patent from Daniel Davis jr. It was only the second photography patent issued in the U.S. and purported to put color into a daguerreotype by electrolysis. Judging from my daguerreotype and the literature on this process, the color produced was not that astounding. I hope this is helpful. --Len ----------------------------------------------------------------- 12-08-96

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