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

At the end of today's post is a response I received from Charlie Schreiner regarding the December 8th post and "Plumbe's patent." On this day (December 14) in the year 1839, the following news item appeared in "The New-Yorker" (Vol. VIII, No. 13; page 205): ---------------------------------------------------------------- The Daguerreotype.--The specimens of this wonderful art now exhibited by Mr. Gouraud at 57 Broadway are of a character to afford the most unmingled delight to those who take an interest in the fine arts. On the first gleam of success of this new are, Mr. Daguerre must have exclaimed in the language of the philosopher of old--"eureka--eureka!" The Daguerreotype is only another method of causing Nature herself to multiply her own works,--and although yet in its infancy the productions effected by means of it bear the impress of a perfection never before attained by human ingenuity. The most beautiful and accurately painted miniature, if placed beside many of Mr. Daguerre's representation, would appear very mush like a miserable daub. We say this not with a view to the disparagement of the works of any artists--but such must always be the results of a comparison of Art with Nature. On our way home after an examination of these pictures we stopped at a window to gaze on some beautifully executed engravings--and were never so deeply struck with the immense short-comings of mere art. Incomplete and superficial as the best artist must confess his labors to be, what a chance does the Daguerreotype afford him of studying the appearance which Nature should put on his representations upon canvass. To the inventor of this curious art be all due credit for his ingenuity, but to Nature herself let all the merit of the wonderful fidelity in the minutiae of the pictures be awarded. It is not in landscape views that the Daguerreotype impresses us most with its beauties; but in interiors, copies of oil paintings and statuary, where delicate shades and minute objects are to be preserved. In these it is most accurate and astonishing. The best specimen of the art in Mr. Gouraud's collection is No. 21--an interior, in which are represented several statues, bas reliefs, drapery, and a portrait of Mr. Daguerre himself. This is certainly a very beautiful picture in its execution-nothing could be more perfect--and the price of it is $500. The price of the others vary from $40 to $300. We said that the landscape vies were not so pleasing. The reason of this is the difficulty of making a representation of any moving object--such as foliage, water, clouds, &c., and in place of these there is a dull leaden blank which in a great degree mars the beauty of the pictures. These specimens must be seen to be appreciated--no description can do justice to their beauties. We hope, therefore, no one to whom the subject is in the least degree interesting will fail to take advantage of Mr. Gouraud's visit to this city, and examine them. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Charlie Schreiner had these comments about my December 8 post: Hello Gary, 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 ----------------------------------------------------------------- 12-14-96

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