Sixth Plate



D1-14    Terms of Sale

ABOVE THE PINNACLE! I have an extraordinary collection of very early daguerreotypes, circa 1839 into 1843. By studying these examples I have come to appreciate the great strides (both technically and artistically) that were successfully made to create masterpieces like Dr. John Green III. He resided and practiced medicine in Worcester MA. His father and grandfather were also doctors in that city. I notated on the Filmoplast after I archivally prepared the daguerreotype in 1991 that Dr. Green was taken on a SCOVILLS plate that had medium clipped corners and flat sides. Originally an octagonal mat was used to frame his phenomenal countenance that exhibits all the aspects ever devised in perfecting daguerreotypy when producing a sixth plate of such extraordinary quality! I suspected at that time the half domed brass mat and protector were added circa 1847 after someone had cleaned the silver. Fortunately, for whatever reason the mat was changed, it didn’t alter the richness of tones or deepness of the amazing holographic depth! I strongly suspect that Green commissioned this portrait in late 1843 early 1844! The plate has copper visible on the reverse, where I had attached a small extant note: “Dr. John Green brother of Mrs. Benjamin F. Heywod (sic)”. Actually Dr. Heywood was Green’s partner who married his sister, Nancy in 1820. She died in 1827. Not to be deterred, Dr. Heywood then married another of Green gals, Elizabeth. Dr. Green was a graduate of Brown College and also Harvard Medical School. As a doctor, he was huge asset to Worcester and the surrounding hamlets. He was also the founder of the Worcester Public Library. His philanthropy included an initial donation of 7,000 volumes when the Library was established in 1859. Green was born in 1784 and would have been approximately 59 years old when he sat for an unidentified daguerreian. Which leads me to a bit of supposition. WHO might have been capable of making this likeness? There were at least two operators practicing in Worcester at this time, and one, J.C. Williams remained active according to a source listed in Craig’s Daguerreian Registry almost 20 years. However, I strongly doubt that Williams or any local maker was capable of producing this stellar effort. Dr. Green would most likely have been taken in Boston. The firm of A.S. Southworth, whose location was at 5 ½ Tremont Row, had already been executing magnificent daguerreotypes prior to this time frame. (I already expect someone to email and say something about the plate not having been electroplated). My own research has led me to the simple conclusion that it is not known definitively when Southworth began adding silver but I think that a date of not earlier then 1845 is probable. Let me state categorically, while I really would like to be certain about the daguerreotypist, at the end of the day, this triumphant historically important reproduction in miniature was made by a man who had already conquered the mysteries of mercury! I am including two interesting supplementary scans. The reproduction done by H.W. Smith appears to have been copied from a variant of my daguerreotype taken during the same session. The second image is quite whimsical! There is patina inside the mat and several brown areas of tarnish. The remaining specks are barely noticeable. I will ask Casey to repair the broken spine on the simple leather case. Finally, when Dr. Green is admired, for his revolutionary pose, the razor sharpness of focus and the inspirational illumination, plus the unsurpassed contrast and tonality, it is visually evident that he visited the studio of a daguerreian genius!

For Purchase Inquiry Contact:
Dennis A. Waters at