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

On this day (December 19) in the year 1840, the following announcement appeared in "The Athenaeum - Journal of English & Foreign Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts" (London; No. 686, pg. 1013): - - - - - - - - Improvement in Photography.--M. Fizeau has made such an improvement in this process, that the designs may be rubbed with the hand covered by a glove without being defaced. His method consists in employing a salt of gold. A liquid being formed of 15 grains of chloride of gold dissolved in three-quarters of a pint of pure water, and 46 1/2 grains of hyposulphite of soda dissolved in an equal quantity of water, some drops of this fluid, after the light has ceased acting, are poured upon the silver plate, after the latter has been heated with great care. In this operation, silver is dissolved, and gold precipitated. This improvement was communicated to the Academy of Sciences on the 10th, and is said to be very important. (This improvement was indeed important and became a standard part of the process. The statement that "the designs may be rubbed" however, is somewhat of an overstatement and isn't something I would suggest trying on your favorite image. --G.E.) -------------------------------------------------------------- 12-18-97

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