In my continuing quest for early photographic equipment and ephemera, I recently purchased two billheads from Anthony's National Daguerrean Depot. While I have owned quite a few photographic billheads in the past, these are the earliest ones so far, February and April, 1851.
The customer in this case is the Litchfield Manufacturing Company of Litchfield, CT.
According to this site, "In 1850, when the United States' first papier mache factory was established at Litchfield, Connecticut, English workers were brought over to teach their [papier mache] skills. The Litchfield Manufacturing Company was started by English-born Quaker William Allgood, and was successful from the start. The factory initially produced small ornamental items, such as fans and card cases, but then concentrated on making papier mache versions of the area's main product, decorative clock cases. These were warmly received, and commended at the World Fair in New York in 1854. Litchfield Manufacturing merged with a clock company in 1855 [Jerome Clock Company], but a nearby factory, Wadhams Manufacturing Co. continued to produce papier mache such as desks and game boards, until the outbreak of the American Civil War. Although the western papier mache industries had run out of steam by the end of the 19th century, cultures who had been consistently using papier mache continued making boxes, cases, lamp-stands, trays and frames, decorated with extremely intricate traditional designs, such as interlocking flowers, animals and scenes from court life."
While short lived (1850-1855), the Litchfield Manufacturing Company is now remembered as a clock maker featuring papier mache and pearl inlays as the above reference mentions. An example of one of their clocks is shown here. My research indicates that none other than P.T. Barnum was a major stakeholder in the Litchfield firm. See here for an in depth look at the Jerome Clock Company that Litchfield merged with and the people involved with the firm, including P.T. Barnum.
Although not specifically mentioned in the above reference, other references note that the Litchfield Manufacturing Company also made Daguerreotype cases featuring papier mache and pearl inlay construction, which makes perfect sense as to the relationship with Anthony as a supplier.
From John Craig's Daguerreian Registry
"Litchfield Mfg Co
Advertised as a manufacturer of all kinds of inlaid pearl and paper mache goods (including daguerreotype cases), Litchfield, Conn., 1851. Listed daguerreotype cases and plates, with a depot at 251 Pearl Street, New York City. The New York City depot was listed in 1851, but not in subsequent years"
One of the billheads I obtained features the purchase of "Crimson Velvet" and a discussion about the availability of "ruby" and "maroon" velvet, all presumably for use as pinch pads found inserted in Daguerreotype cases.
CLICK FOR HIGH RESOLUTION
CLICK FOR HIGH RESOLUTION
To see more photographic billheads and related ephemera, please see this site which features items from the Matthew R. Isenburg Collection.
August 4, 2012
"Take my wife, please."
"Henny explained the origin of his classic line "Take my wife, please" as a misinterpretation: in the mid-1930s he took his wife to a show and asked the usher to escort his wife to a seat. But his request was taken as a joke, and Youngman used the line countless times ever after." Source: Wikipedia
About 50 years before Youngman uttered those famous words, a humorous photograpic broadside made a similiar joke, "Hang Your Wife!"
I have had a difficult time pinpointing the exact date of this broadside, but based on content, I'd estimate 1875-1880.
July 29, 2012
In 1881*, William Hall Walker manufactured and sold a small wooden camera for the amateur market called, Walker's Pocket Camera. It's a historically important camera because it was built with interchangeable parts and was one of the first amateur camera outfits sold at a very low price. Lowering the cost of camera manufacturing was a key step in which George Eastman would soon exploit and take full advantage of. Eastman's primary goal was to offer, simple, inexpensive cameras to the masses in order to sell them highly profitable roll film. To that end, Walker joined Eastman in 1884 and would go on to have a long, albeit tumultuous, career with Eastman. In fact, Walker became fabulously wealthy as one of Kodak's largest shareholders when he passed away in 1917.
It appears that Walker's camera was brought to market in the Spring of 1882 (despite Eastman House stating 1881) and by 1883, Walker sold his business to what would become the Rochester Optical Company. Given the limited time this camera was on the market and the fact that only a handful of these cameras are known to exist in collections (I know of 4), sales must have relatively small. At least two versions are known, one which features a cherry wood finish and the other a black or ebony finish.
For the last 20 years, I've kept an eye open for an example of Walker's Pocket Camera with no luck. However, a couple of years ago I stumbled across an image on eBay that actually featured a young man with Walker's Pocket Camera on the original tripod supplied as part of the outfit. I imagine finding an image of such a rare camera would be just about as rare as finding the camera itself. The image, taken by the well known photographer, F.J. Haynes, is shown below.
*The camera wouldn't receive its patent approval until 1882, but the camera was first built in 1881.
Image Copyright AntiqueCameras.net
Image Copyright AntiqueCameras.net
Image Courtesy of George Eastman House - Click to go to GEH site
Click to see the entire patent
Click to see the entire patent
While much has been written about Walker's life after joining Eastman's firm, very little has been written about his upbringing. However, with the immense library of books Google has put online, I was able to locate a nice biography of Walker which provides some fascinating details of his early life.
From Stevens Indicator, A Quarterly Journal of Mechanical Engineering, Volume 33, 1916:
"STEVENS is under a heavy debt of gratitude to William Hall Walker. At a time when the campaign for the Stevens Tech Fund to free the college from debt and provide needed endowment and equipment seemed most discouraging, Mr. Walker stepped into the breach with a donation of $100,000 that put new life into the campaign and made the ultimate success of the Fund a matter of history.
In view of his generosity and great service to the college, the following outline of some of the experiences and achievements of the man whose name the new Gymnasium is to bear, will be of keen interest to every Stevens man.
Mr. Walker was born in Scio, Michigan, July 26, 1846. His preliminary education was obtained at several boarding schools. Very early he evinced a decided interest in engineering science. Owing to reverses met by his father, he was obliged to think of his own support and, without the approval of his family, started as an apprentice at Colts Armory at Hartford. Mr. Walker has said of this part of his life’s experience: “Twist drills, taps, dies, and reamers were not made commercially until they were made at Colt’s Armory; and here, as far as I know, was established the first organized tool room. The entire system of drop forgings was developed at Colt’s Armory, and also the system of manufacturing interchangeable parts, which system was first suggested by Eli Whitney, a New England schoolmaster, the inventor of the cotton gin.”
Later young Walker worked as a machinist at Pratt & Whitney. Still later he was employed by the Morgan Iron Works on the construction of marine engines. His next step was to undertake independent work as a contractor and, in that connection, in one instance he took over an entire factory to produce special tools by new methods.
During his connection with the Morgan Iron Works, he attended night school at the Cooper Institute, completing the full course in mathematics and mechanical drawing. On the completion of this course, he became a partner in a firm interested in the manufacture of machinery, and traveled over practically the entire United States representing this firm and introducing their products. This connection was deliberately undertaken by Mr. Walker, with the idea of familiarizing himself with all branches of the manufacturing business, and with machinery and processes in general.
During certain investigations into the history of the gas engine, he was struck with what appeared to be contradictory practices and designs, and so attempted to procure financial assistance to prosecute some independent experiments, having in mind the obtaining of correct engine cylinder diagrams. Failing to obtain this necessary financial support, he then directed his attention to a complete study of the photographic processes from the earliest known down to the then new “dry plate” process. At that time this new process was little understood and was giving no little trouble to the manufacturers.
For a year his attention was directed wholly to these photographic studies, which were supplemented by experiments with practically all the then known processes and apparatus. The result of these investigations was the development on a commercial scale of a small camera for amateurs known as Walker’s Pocket Camera. This camera attained a marked success and was purchased particularly by engineers for facilitating preliminary surveys of projected railways and other works. It was the first camera specially adapted to the needs and capabilities of amateurs.
During this year of experiment, he became convinced that a substitute could be made for glass for the manufacture of photographic plates and, after about six months of work, produced a film and was successful in producing negatives and prints.
It was soon after this that he associated himself with a concern known at that time as the Eastman Dry Plate Company of Rochester, and, in his position as technical expert, he perfected the first comrnercial roll holder for exposures. This roll holder was a fore-runner of the practical hand camera which has since become familiar throughout the world under the trade name of “Kodak.”
During Mr. Walker’s early years with the Eastman Company, he perfected the first set of machinery for coating photographic films and paper of continuous length; also machinery for automatically dividing glass plates which, at that time, were but poorly cut and, in many instances, due to these eccentricities, would not enter the commercial plate holders. He also perfected machinery for automatically spooling the films and for determining the exact amount of film required.
Many patents were taken out for these inventions which were the initial efforts of the Eastman Dry Plate Company to perfect a complete system of film photography and coated papers.
Mr. Walker went to London many years ago to make an exhibit of the products of the Eastman Company before the Inventions Exhibition and, as a result, the company was awarded the highest prize for progress. As a further result of this London trip, Mr. Walker opened an office in London, finally becoming the Managing Director of an English Eastman Company. This was the beginning of the present branch system whereby the home company is represented by its own agents in many of the capitals of the world, thus keeping the parent company in close touch with the world’s needs and demands.
Mr. Walker retired from active business some thirty years ago, and has devoted himself of late years particularly to microscopic studies and many interesting engineering problems in connection with the development of his estate in the Berkshire Hills.
We are privileged to add a brief account of a trip made in 1862 to China by Mr. Walker, then a boy of sixteen:
“I made a trip to China in the year 1862, on a steamship built for Russell & Company of China. This ship was modeled after the North River type and was known as the Hugh Quang. The quards or projecting decks, which, starting from the sides of the hull enclosed the paddle boxes, were fitted with sponsons, which connected the outer edges of the guards with the hull. The object of these sponsons was to break the force of the seas, but before we were well into the gulf stream we cut out every other plank from both sponson and guards, and even then we could not keep anything in the racks of the steward’s pantry on account of the shattering effect of the seas, which sometimes seemed as if they would lift the entire deck.
“The engine was the old-fashioned beam engine 60” bore and twelve feet stroke. The entire vessel was stiffened with what is known as a ‘hog’ frame, which was tied together with 2" and 2 1/2” rods tightened with turn buckles.
“These rods were continually breaking, and so a constant watch was necessary, especially during rough weather; and during the crossing of the Mozambique Channel we had busy night keeping these rods intact. The blacksmiths gave out and we commandeered two of the engineers as smithies, and I stood watch for two hours working the engines by hand. This was the toughest job I ever had, feeling as it were for the coming sea; for the only way was to feel the bow rising and judge when the wave had struck the paddles and ease her off and then catch her again before she went ‘dead.’
“All Chinese boats have two eyes painted one on either side of the bow, for, as the Chinese say, ‘No have eye, how can see; no can see, how can walkee?’ So all ships in the coastwise trade of China have two eyes. This ship was built to run on the Yangtze River.
“We made the fastest run from New York to Shanghai, of over 14,000 miles, in 58 running days. We then took her masts out. I was appointed purser and went up to Hankau, which at that time was the head of navigation.
“We all went armed out there. Having charge of three hundred coolies, all potential pirates, was no joke if they ever took a notion to run amuck. Going up the river we gave three dinners, one for the Chinese officials, consuls etc.; one for the merchant class (High Chop Men); and a third for merchants of lesser degree.
“The Taiping rebellion was on at that time and the river was full of dead bodies, sometimes tied to pigs or other animals. When we tried to turn the engines over preparatory to departure from Shanghai, we were unable to move until we went down into the paddle boxes and cut the dead bodies away. This was not pleasant work with the thermometer at 110 F., and a moist atmosphere.
“I made plenty of spending money bringing down Chinese cash and making the difference in exchange between Shanghai and Han-kau.
“To give an idea of the customs in those days, my position as purser entitled me to my full proportion in the following daily allowances: a. bottle of champagne and a bottle of port for four; a bottle of whiskey and a bottle of sherry for two; and beer, mineral water, and ginger ale without limit, and the amount of liquids consumed was sometimes astonishing.""
July 20, 2012
A few very early advertisements I thought you might enjoy...
1853 Advertisement Ohio State Business Directory
July 14, 2012
Camera collector and past President of The Photographic Historical Society of New England ("PHSNE") 1985-1987, Wayne Cogan, passed away recently. My condolences to his family and friends.
I met Wayne a few times at PHSNE in the late 90's and we've emailed periodically ever since. Our tastes in cameras was very similar. Wayne was always happy to share images of his collection with me and discuss different topics. I've posted a few images Wayne shared, in his honor, and for his contributions to the hobby.
Wayne Cogan Collection
Wayne Cogan Collection
Wayne Cogan Collection
Wayne Cogan Collection
Wayne Cogan Collection
Wayne with his collection.
Click the image above to see a high resolution copy and explore the collection
Learn more about the history of The Photographic Historical Society of New England, which included Wayne, by clicking here.
July 7, 2012
Mr. Matthew Isenburg sells his premier early photography collection for $ 15 Million
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Early photography collection sells for record $15 million.
Hadlyme, CT, July 6, 2012: Just released information discloses that the Matthew R. Isenburg Collection of early photography has sold to the Archive of Modern Conflict (AMC) for a record $15 million, and has now been moved to its new home in Toronto, Canada where a new museum facility is being designed for its future display. This is the most significant, and historically important, sale of photographic material of the last 50 years; a deal that was conceived and brokered by vintage photography dealer, Greg French, of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.
In the quiet town of Hadlyme, Connecticut, the largest single private purchase of vintage photographs, and early photographic equipment and ephemera, was consummated with the simple shake of the hand this past April. No paperwork, no written agreement, no lawyers present - just a handshake between like-minded people who understood the importance of keeping a historical collection together, and not splitting it up. They met for the first time at two o'clock in the afternoon, and by 2 a.m. the next morning "they had a deal," Isenburg said. "There was an instant trust between all of us." Weeks later, papers were officially signed to legalize the deal, but it was the handshake that sealed the deal for Isenburg, and what he put his trust in.
$15 million is the largest amount ever paid for a single 19th century photographic collection, and far surpasses the combined total of $8 million paid in 1994 and 2007 for two separate photographic collections assembled by the late, Jack Naylor, of Chestnut Hill, MA. Even the $250,000.00 paid in 1963 by the Harry Ransom Center in Texas for Helmut Gernsheim's historically important photography collection (it contained the world's first photograph), would only translate into less than $2 million in today's dollars, although the collection is undoubtedly worth much more in today’s market.
Isenburg's collection is significant to the history of photography because it contains so many early and important daguerreotypes (the first practical photographic process), created by the earliest and best photographers in America - when photography was in its infancy in the 1840s and 1850s. Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, 1787-1851, the inventor of the daguerreotype, announced his new process to the world on August 19, 1839 in France.
The collection also contains the largest number of early American daguerreian cameras (more than two dozen) ever assembled by anyone. The George Eastman House in Rochester, NY has only eight American daguerreian cameras in their collection.
To characterize Isenburg's collection in a few words, it's the best of the best; an unparalleled assemblage of over 20,000 individual items, focused mainly on the early years, that together chronicle photography's humble beginnings - through not only important images and cameras, but through all the various accoutrements of the trade - also including advertisements, diaries, books, journals and all manner of photographic ephemera imaginable. Isenburg has often said, "I paid premium prices for best of breed, best in class.”
The 85-year-old Isenburg has owned numerous Ford auto dealerships in the past, whose success afforded him the opportunity to collect. He isn't just a collector though; he's a photo historian who's always been more interested in piecing together the story behind an object or image, than he is about just owning something. He's a photographic compendium who's spent the last fifty years seeking out history through photography.
In the third floor museum (now empty) in his home, a priceless daguerreotype would be displayed next to a tattered receipt and a handwritten letter or diary because they relate to one another and tell a compelling story. He owned the posing chair from America's premier daguerreotypists, Southworth and Hawes of Boston, in addition to the largest collection of Southworth and Hawes full-plate daguerreotypes (over 40) in private hands. Along with the chair, many other Southworth and Hawes items - from family photos and letters, to paintings, bills of sale, a partnership agreement, advertisements and ephemera, help to reveal the story of what it was like to be a photographer in the 1850s.
Highlights of Isenburg's vast collection include one of the earliest surviving daguerreotypes (there are only two others known) showing the US Capitol in 1846, by daguerreotypist John Plumbe Jr., along with the two earliest daguerreotypes depicting New York City. He also owned the earliest extant, and complete, example of an American daguerreotype camera outfit - built by William H. Butler in 1841, and containing its original sensitizing and developing equipment, all housed together in a single wooden box. His collection of California Gold Rush daguerreotypes, with related letters and ephemera, is unparalleled, and his photographic library was probably the most comprehensive in private hands. Another unique item was Isenburg's one-of-a-kind c. 1855 exquisitely hand-carved-and-painted American eagle with a greater than eight-foot wing span which is sitting atop the carving's framed centerpiece - a full-plate outdoor daguerreotype depicting a Massachusetts military company in full dress uniforms. The daguerreotype is surrounded by additional military-themed-carvings depicting an American flag, sword, cannon, cannon balls and a drum.
The packing and shipping of the collection took a crew of anywhere from five to nine people - five full weeks to complete over the past two months (all paid for by AMC), and a cherry picker had to be rented in order to remove the over eight-foot-wide carved American eagle and other objects from the third floor museum.
The task of unpacking, cataloging and photographing every item has begun in Toronto, and is being carried out by AMC's newly-appointed curators of the collection, Jill Offenbeck and Amanda Shear, both of Toronto. The AMC’s chief photography buyer in North America, Neil MacDonald, also from Toronto, was instrumental in convincing AMC that the Isenburg Collection was essential to their vision. Toronto native and Daguerreian Society President Mike Robinson has been recently appointed as AMC's Director of Education and Research Programs and will oversee the organization and cataloging of the collection.
With offices in both London, England and Toronto, AMC's collection of well over three million images contains primarily vernacular photographs that tell mankind's forgotten stories through the personal photographic albums and images created and preserved by the common man; an un-bandaged reality, rarely seen, and too often discarded by ensuing generations. Images of 20th century conflict, war, political unrest, social revolution, cultural traditions, etc. were AMC's primary focus when they began collecting in the 1990s, but that soon expanded to include 19th century images as well as manuscripts and objects. The addition of the Isenburg Collection, adds a formidable dimension to AMC's holdings, much as the Gernsheim Collection added early photo-history to the Harry Ransom Center in Texas.
Below is a more complete synopsis of Isenburg's collection, in his own words.
"The Isenburg Collection covers the first four decades of photo-history in a unique way. As much ephemera and three-dimensional objects are shown concerning the culture of that period - as on its photo-history. Though mostly American, there are some Canadian highlights as well as English, French and German. The collection is very strong in images that show the history of photography. Only three half-plate daguerreotypes of the U. S. Capitol are known: one at the Library of Congress and the other at the Getty Museum with the third now at AMC, as well as the only know daguerreotype of the south face of the White House. Hundreds of letters written in California during the Gold Rush and diaries written by those who travelled by wagon - accompany the largest collection of Gold Rush daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and paper prints formerly in private hands including an 1851 panoramic daguerreotype of San Francisco showing the deserted ships in the harbor as well as a stereo daguerreotype of Portsmouth Square by Robert Vance. The ephemera collection of that time and place is large beyond imagination. The runs of 19th century trade magazines and assorted newspapers are fabulous. Clipper ship cards, gold rush jewelry, stereoviews, diaries, letter sheets, rare lithographs and even rarer paintings depicting life in California abound. Even late-19th-century California cabinet cards make their presence felt. The Southworth and Hawes collection has rare letters that give us a true glimpse beyond the common perception surrounding the two partners as well as their partnership agreement. Even the posing chair so prominent in many Southworth & Hawes daguerreotypes as well as Nancy Southworth Hawes oil painting in its original frame, and her daguerreotype taken next to the painting still exist. The only four full-plate stereo pairs (in private hands) as viewed in The Grand Parlor Stereoscope are part of this section of the collection which ends with a daguerreotype of J. J. Hawes as a very old man pulling the string on a drop shutter to take his own final self portrait. The library of early photography books and periodicals is one of the best in the country. Beside trade catalogues, "how to" books, weekly or twice monthly trade magazines, It includes illustrated weeklies with woodcuts galore from daguerreotypes. And let's not forget the Eagle. Almost an eight and a half foot wingspan polychrome Eagle clutching a whole plate daguerreotype of the Warren Light Guard of Worcester, Massachusetts which lost four soldiers trying to quell the Baltimore riots in the first official engagement of the American Civil War. Also now in Toronto are the two documented earliest daguerreotypes taken in New York City, one of City Hall and the other showing the 1849 paving of Broadway, and they are in 3D! The CDV (carte-de-visite) collection is one of the finest ever assembled, much of it emphasizing the history of photography. Tintypes on photo history abound, as well as an amazing collection of stereoviews concerning photo history. The largest display of broadsides from 1841 to the 1860s is another major specialty. Early photos of famous photographers and famous photographers’ business cards are also part of the History of Photography collection. The rarest thermoplastic and MOP (mother of pearl) cases accompany an over three-hundred-piece case collection including both versions of the Henry Clay case and the obverse steel mold used to make one of them. There is no other early American camera collection that has the depth that the hardware collection exhibits, from the earliest complete American outfit (featured in an article in Antiques Magazine, September 1932, and displayed at the 1933 and 1939 World’s Fairs), accompanied by more than two dozen daguerreotype cameras and more than thirty wet-plate cameras. Over a dozen of these early cameras are complete outfits including the developing equipment - plus all the equipment, chemicals and labeled bottles and original boxes in which many of these items shipped from the supplier, and last but not least, dozens of invoices describing and itemizing their cost at that time. The collection of items directly related to Daguerre include: a 19th century bronze bust of Daguerre by Kaan, the four 19th century first generation copy-portraits of Daguerre including the crystalotype by Whipple, the CDV by Meade, the woodburytype in the 1881 Yearbook of Photography and the heliograph by Dujardin. There are many original 1839 Daguerre manuals in both French and English, and Daguerre’s image on everything from a cigar band to postage stamps, cigarette cards and dozens of advertisements that used his image and story as a hook to get attention, and finally letters written and signed by Daguerre himself.”
Courtesy of Rob McElroy Buffalo, New York (6 July 2012)
In the last 8 months or so, I have had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Isenburg ("Matt") from emails and telephone correspondence. His willingness to advise me on the purchase two Daguerreotype cameras and answer numerous questions I had about early photographic equipment is a testament to his willingness to share information and help others. His contributions to the hobby and history of photographic equipment and images are unsurpassed. While I am sad to see the collection leave New England, Toronto's not far from me, so I will need to plan a trip soon. Congratulations Matt.
Finding antique wooden view cameras in pristine condition is a treat. Adding an unused lensboard to that, is even sweeter. More than likely, given the other pieces found with the camera, the unused board was an extra board the owner never drilled out, not the camera's original board.
Rochester Optical New Model Camera
Anthony Single Achromatic lens ("cone" lens)
Dallmeyer Wide Angle Rectilinear lens with original box & cap
Jordan Patkin Collection. Photographer, Monica Pedynkowski.
June 23, 2012
As posted on June 17th, I recently acquired a unique Daguerreotype although it was in pretty tough condition. The item was professionally cleaned and the resulting change is pretty remarkable. The image itself is also pretty remarkable.
CLOSE UP VIEW
We will never know the precise reason the sitter is holding a cased Daguerreotype upside down, but I believe I have a plausible conclusion.
Here's my pitch. The portrait is of a working photographer who is holding an image of his former business partner or perhaps a customer who hasn't paid a large bill. The sitter is holding the Daguerreotype upside down in disgust and to ridicule. This image was planned and served to send a message to someone no longer on good terms with the sitter.
I reached this conclusion* based on some of the following facts and observations. Obviously, the inclusion of a camera in the visible image points to the sitter being related to the Daguerrean trade, but upon closer inspection, we can see the man's fingertips are also stained, common among Daguerreotypists and making an even better case that the sitter is in the "business."
In front of the camera, two small books were purposely placed behind the held Daguerreotype to support it during exposure. This points to the image being planned and thoughtfully executed.
An interesting clue that holding the Daguerreotype upside down was not an accident, but rather to send a message, is the fact the image is tinted. Surely if the image was a mistake, someone in the trade wouldn't have taken the time and expense to tint the image, never mind save it. Paying customers might leave a studio with such a mistake, but I think someone in the trade would have just repolished and reused the plate.
It's the pinch pad of the held Daguerreotype that has the most noticeable tinting (faded green).
Lastly, if you study the facial expression of the sitter, it's Mona Lisa-esque in it's complexity. The eyes telegraph a pensive mood with the curl of his lips providing a hint of a smirk. To me, his facial expression doesn't relay the image is purely a joking matter.
Again, we will never know the exact story behind this image, but it sure is fun to speculate given the clues contained.
The plate features the makers mark, SCOVILLS, which according to Floyd Rinhart, was used in the 1840's, declined in popularity in 1848 and by 1850, SCOVILL MFG' CO became the new mark. Based on that information and the presence of a Chamfered Box camera (which likely dates no earlier than 1845), I am estimating this Daguerreotype image to be of the 1846-1848 period.
* Noted Kodak collector, Ruud Hoff, first suggested to me the concept that the Daguerreotype was being held upside down as a display of discord or a bad relationship between the two men. Thank you, Ruud.
Counter Clockwise; Stained Fingers, Tinted Pad, The Other Man, Books
I created a short video to highlight the restoration of this Daguerreotype. Be sure to watch full screen and select 1080p High Definition to view.
Interesting Daguerreotype material on EBAY
June 20, 2012
While dribs and drabs have been written about Charles C. Harrison over the years, I thought I'd add some visuals to his history.
First up, a very early Harrison Portrait Lens. By most accounts, Harrison began selling lenses in 1849. The date he first began tinkering with lenses is referenced as 1847-1848 in a few periodicals. The lens below, appearing to be whole plate size, has serial number 886. This would seem to indicate a manufacture date of 1850 - quite an early Harrison.
Doggett's New York business directory of 1848-1849 contains dated comments (June 30, 1848) about publishing times and the directory also contains a calendar starting with July 1848, so it looks like the directory was published precisely in July of 1848. As of that date, CC Harrison is "only" listed as a Daguerreotype Photographer with his studio at 289 Broadway. Note 15 City Hall Place is also listed as his home.
By 1850, Harrison was being listed with his studio at 289 Broadway but also as a maker of Daguerreotype apparatus at 85 Duane Street.
How about we go back even earlier with Harrison lens number 385 ! From a Skinner Auction in 2005; a Chamfered Box Daguerreotype Camera with Harrison lens # 385 mounted on the camera. Click on the image to see more images at liveauctions.com
Click above to see more info and images. Courtesy www.skinnerinc.com/index.php
Next, are two images of Charles C. Harrison. On the left is a woodcut taken from an image in 1855 (Philadelphia Photographer). On the right is a CDV of Harrison that likely dates to 1862; from the former collection of Brad Townsend. Harrsion would have been about 26 years old on the left and 33 on the right.
Uncommon 1851 Harrison Advertisement
Note in the advertisement above, mention of a "new and improved Camera* for taking Views..." I never realized Harrison made a landscape lens prior to his Orthoscope in 1857. Apparently, about 1851, he started to market a single achromatic, landscape "view" lens. This makes sense. Lens makers typically sold a simple view lens to go along with their main offering of the mighty portrait lens. This was true of Voigtlander as well as many of the French firms, so it makes sense Harrison sold one as well as he competed to be America's premier lens maker in the 1850's.
*At this time, a lens was frequently referred to as a, "camera."
Given the number of lenses Harrison made, I venture to say that perhaps a few hundred of these lenses were made and how many survive today? I dunno, maybe 10....maybe 5 ?
Noted lens collector Milan Zahorcak supplied me with an image of one that passed through his collection many moons ago.
And, to add to the Harrison picture-show, a Mammoth sized CC Harrison Portrait lens fitted with Harrison and Schnitzer's patented diaphragm. This would have covered a plate on the order of 14" x 17". Given the lens is engraved with the Sept. 7, 1858 patent date and has serial number of 58xx, we know the lens is no earlier than 1858, and likely 1859. Image courtesy of Matthew Isenburg, the leading authority on early camera equipment.
The Harrison and Schnitzer diaphragm can be seen clearly from the images below of a Harrison Orthoscope lens, at one time in my collection. This lens, serial number 5316, was marked "Patent Appl'd For," so it likely dates to late 1857 or early 1858.
Harrison Orthoscope Lens
Harrison also designed a Daguerreotype Buffing Wheel in 1851. The illustration is from the March 1851 issue of The Photographic Art Journal.
June 17, 2012
Happy Father's Day.
I typically collect cameras and lenses, but have begun to venture more into images as of late, especially those images containing a photographer or photographic equipment. I found such a piece recently on ebay, a Daguerreotype of a man holding a cased Daguerreotype, upside down (why?). More importantly, the "Dag" also contains what appears to be an American Chamfered Box Daguerreotype camera with Petzval portrait lens, tucked away in the corner of the Scovill (marked), 1/6th plate.
The issue with this item, as you can see, is its poor condition and excessive tarnish. While I am usually anti-restoration and like to leave things as found, I am having this item professionally cleaned in the hopes the entire image can be seen more clearly and its condition stabilized. Given its current condition, I think it's the right choice despite some risks involved with cleaning it.
Presented below is the Daguerreotype in it's current condition. I will supply an "after" photo in the very near future to show the results of cleaning.
** If you have any ideas as to why the Dag in the image is upside down, please email me your thoughts. Hard to believe it was just by accident.