Another recent auction acquisition. This is a minuscule 1/9th plate (roughly 2 inches x 2 1/2 inches) Daguerreotype of two brothers. I bought this one because of the relatively unusual size (1/9th plate and smaller Dags are less common) and the subject – I’m not used to seeing 1/9th plate images of more than one person. It has condition issues – while the case still has the original hinge intact, the bottom of one side is missing, as is the lining of the bottom of the image side. The interesting thing about it is that it reveals the case in this instance is made of a thin wood box covered with tooled leather. Some of these cases were made of essentially cardboard before being leather-wrapped. I did do a little bit of cleaning on this one, as the original seals, while present, were badly deteriorated and lots of dust had gotten inside the glass. There is still some kind of schmutz on the surface of the plate, and I do not yet know how to safely remove it, so I am holding off on that. I have digitally cleaned up the scan of the plate to show the potential, but left some of the blotches in the image to give an idea of what it looks like in its present state.
The newest addition to the collection. She arrived today in USPS. I love the simple gesture of pointing to the glasses, as if to indicate a prized possession.
The scan again does not do justice – it picks up and magnifies every little dust fleck. I’m not going to bother cleaning the dust off because this one still has the complete intact original paper seals on the packet. This one is circa 1840-45, closer to ’45 than ’40 based on the style of the mat. The truly early images had very simple mats with just the top corners rounded, or an elongated octagon for the opening, and usually with either a smooth but matt finish or a pebble-grain texture to the mat.
Just a quick note – today marks the 172nd birthday of the Daguerreotype. It was on this day in 1839 that the French government declared the Daguerreotype process “free to the world” (after buying the patent rights from Daguerre in exchange for a life pension). Vive la France!!!
Well, new to me that is…
I’ve been off the collecting kick lately because I had some more gear and supplies to buy for my own photography. I found a pair of 14×17 inch film holders that fit my Canham 14×17, and although they’re not a color match for the other three, they’re more than good enough – the external dimensions are identical, so they
re an exact fit, which is the most critical factor when looking for such things. Oh, and they’re less than half the price of new ones that do match my existing holders.
So, with that holdup out of the way, it’s on to more collecting. Two daguerreotypes and a milk glass ambrotype are en route. Daguerreotypes are much more familiar to most people, so I’ll save further commentary until I have them to show. A milk glass ambrotype though- you might wonder what is it? Simply, it’s an ambrotype on a piece of white, opaque glass. Not so simply, to get the image to show, you create a collodion negative the same way you would if you were planning to make albumen or salt prints. You coat a second wet plate onto a piece of milk glass (a white/opalescent glass), then separate the negative from the milk glass with a thin wire or shim or anything that will keep the collodion original very close to but not in contact with the new wet plate. Expose and process as normal for collodion. You end up with a positive on the milk glass (a negative of a negative is a positive). Because of the extra labor involved, they’re somewhat rare. The one I’ve got coming is a very small (1/9th plate size) oval portrait of a young woman, done with a very attractively executed vignette, in a red velvet case. I’ll post pictures as soon as I get it in my own hands. I have no idea who she is or what she did for a living, but something about the outfit feels like a nurse’s habit. Maybe it’s the vignette giving a subliminal halo to the woman adding to the impression – who knows? It probably is a civil war era image, but if that’s true, she’s probably not a nurse, as most of the official requirements for nurses during the civil war requested that they be doughy, extremely plain of looks, and past marriageable age. This girl is none of the above.
I’ve found some more photographers to add to the map of New York. Again, you’ve got to love some of these self-descriptions of their businesses. Also interesting is the case of C.D. Fredericks, who ran studios in New York, Paris and Havana. Makes you wonder how he managed three studios in such far-flung cities at a time where steam-powered trans-atlantic crossings were just coming in to being, there was no telephone, and the airplane was still an opium-smoker’s dream.
I’ve reorganized the list in geographic order, with the assorted Lower Manhattan addresses first, then the ascent of Broadway, followed by the odds and outliers, including one in Brooklyn.
|STUDIO NAME||ADDRESS||DATES OF OPERATION|
|R.A. Lewis||152 Chatham Street *||unknown|
|R.A. Lord||164 Chatham Street *||unknown|
|K.W. Beniczky||#2 New Chambers Street, corner of Chatham *||unknown|
|Vaughan’s Gallery||228 Bowery||unknown|
|H. Merz||E. Houston & Essex Streets||unknown|
|Bailey’s Photograph Gallery||371 Canal Street||unknown|
|O.O. Roorbach, Publisher of Dramatic Photographs||122 Nassau Street||unknown|
|Mathew Brady||643 Bleeker Street||(1859-1860)|
|Jaquith, Daguerrian Parlor||98 Broadway||unknown|
|S.A. Holmes, Daguerreotype Studio||289 Broadway||unknown|
|Josiah Thompson, Daguerreotypist||315 Broadway||1849-1853|
|J. Gurney & Sons, Daguerreotype Studio||349 Broadway||unknown – early|
|Mathew Brady||359 Broadway||(1853-1859)|
|E. Anthony, Publisher, Brady’s National Portrait Gallery||501 Broadway||unknown|
|W.C. Wemyss, Dealer in Photographs, Books, &c.||575 Broadway||unknown|
|C.D. Fredericks & Co
587 Broadway, New York
31 Passage du Havre, Paris
108 Calle de la Habana, Havana
|Anson’s Daguerreotype Gallery||589 Broadway||unknown – 1850s|
|Chas. K. Bill||603 Broadway||unknown|
|J. Gurney & Sons||707 Broadway||unknown – mid|
|Mathew Brady||785 Broadway||(1860-)|
|Bogardus||872 Broadway||late 1870s|
|T.J. Maujer, Passepartout & Carved Walnut frame manufacturer, Dealer in Photographs, Artist’s Materials, &c.||953 Broadway & 183 5th Avenue||unknown|
|J. Gurney & Sons||5th Avenue & 16th Street||unknown – late|
|Loud’s Celebrated Album Cards||unknown||unknown|
|Fernando Dessaur||145 8th Avenue||unknown|
|Estabrook’s Ferrotypes||379 Fulton Street, Brooklyn||unknown|
* addresses no longer exist. New Chambers Street & Chatham Street are now approximately where New York City Civic Center and Police Headquarters are now located.