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Sixth Plate

$6,000.00

Available

D4-267    Terms of Sale

SURREAL! I will begin by telling you that the plate stock is heavy, the sides are perfectly flat and the corners are barely clipped at slight angles. There isn’t any hallmark. The beautiful octagonal mat is actually made from thick paper that was stamped to create a pebbled surface and gilded gold to mimic the best brass mats. The steely-eyed gentleman appears to be using a mechanical or propelling pencil to enter a day’s receipts in his large ledger. The artistic arrangement contrived by the unknown daguerreian is astounding for the early 1843 period when this incredible sixth plate daguerreotype was executed! The subject was bathed in almost full-frontal illumination from a huge window behind (the camera) and slightly to the left of center. Is that a stuccoed wall or a wavy cloth backdrop behind the man? When I removed the original, nearly transparent gut seals (which I saved) I immediately noticed that a holder that left a wide perimeter band of darkness around the image held the plate in the camera. Could the daguerreotypist have still been using a Wolcott & Johnson style camera, that didn’t require a lens, but used a circular opening at one end where the light entered? It (the man’s image) would pass through the box where it would have been received by a concave mirror (a speculum) that focused the light rays and reflected them back onto the sensitized plate (which was held to face the mirror and not the opening). There are strong buff marks and many teeny dots of dust that were trapped on the surface when a thick layer of varnish or shellac was applied to protect the daguerreotype. My scan only hints at the UNBELIEVABLE HAND COLORING delicately added to finish his superlative treasure. A broad swath of rainbow patina naturally vignettes the sophisticated fellow. The intact leather case, with a classic horizontal motif featuring a lyre as the central theme (made famous by Mathew Brady) has a blue paper liner in the bottom. If you were searching for an occupational portrait from the cusp of the very early era, I would highly recommend this outstanding example!

For Purchase Inquiry Contact:
Dennis A. Waters at dennis@finedags.com