Archival Restoration

Sixteenth plate from the collection of Casey A. Waters

Please contact Casey A. Waters at
casey@finedags.com or phone 603-772-9065

Purposes for Daguerreotype Restoration
  • To better view the images because they are meant to be seen.
  • Roughly 80% of all daguerreotypes have had their original seals broken. Those images have been resealed with paper tape, or left unsealed. Many times the glass was changed. Underneath that glass about 95% of the time is a layer of hazy film that both diminishes the contrast and softens the appearance of the image. Often, it can't be seen until the old piece of glass has been removed. If moisture is also present, very detrimental problems can occur on the actual silvered surface.
  • Most importantly, to preserve daguerreotypes for the future to enjoy them as we do today.
  • To better understand our terminology, please read this article written by my father.
  • One other issue that needs to be discussed is out gassing. Both my dad and I have seen various types of haze and sometimes even white dots appear on the under side of glass in as little time as six months after new glass was added and the package was taped with Filmoplast P-90. We have discussed this phenomenon with other archivists. None of us have conclusively decided or perfectly understand the problem. However, we have noticed that out gassing does not appear on all dags, but more commonly on those that have been improperly cleaned. It can occur on images with paper seals, no seals and archival seals.
Before and After Archival Restoration
Click on images to view enlargements.
Courtesy of Teresa Geddes
Courtesy of Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities, Cape May, NJ Courtesy of Stanley B. Burns, MD
Courtesy of Steve Jorstad Courtesy of Dick Valentinetti
Courtesy of the Jackson Homestead Newton MA
Courtesy of Mike Musick Courtesy of Andrew Leavitt
Courtsey of Charles Culbertson Courtesy of Ole Lyngklip
Courtesy of Stephen Osman Courtesy of Michael Peterson
Courtesy of Ron Jacqmin Courtesy of David Schorsch
Courtesy of David Schorsch Courtesy of David Schorsch
Courtesy of Nick Skezas Courtesy of Nick Skezas
Courtesy of John Kadel Boring Courtesy of John Kadel Boring
Courtesy of Ron Jacqmin Courtesy of Ron Jacqmin
Courtesy of a collector Courtesy of a collector
Courtesy of Ray Frederick Courtesy of Ray Frederick
Courtesy of a collector Courtesy of Martha Chase
Courtesy of Steve Kirsch Courtesy of Steve Kirsch
Courtesy of Aaron Benneian Courtesy of Erik Sirevaag
Courtesy of Joe Bauman Courtesy of Ray Frederick
Courtesy of Mike Medhurst Courtesy of Andy Smith
Courtesy of Annie Cover Fry Courtesy of Annie Cover Fry
Courtesy of Phil Lindstrom Courtesy of Phil Lindstrom
Courtesy of Descendant Diana Fyfe Courtesy of Descendant Diana Fyfe
Courtesy of Arthur Dristiliaris Courtesy of Caitlin Karolczak
  • Before and after scans of your images (in jpeg format) are available at the cost of $15 per pair. Please let us know with the shipment of your daguerreotype(s).
Pricing Chart
Plate Size Price
Mammoth  (Larger than 6 1/2" x 8 1/2") $350
Whole  (Approx. 6 1/2" x 8 1/2") $225
Half  (Approx. 4 1/4" x 5 1/2") $115
Quarter  (Approx. 3 1/4" x 4 1/4") $80
Sixth  (Approx. 2 3/4" x 3 1/4") $55
Ninth  (Approx. 2" x 2 1/2") $40
Sixteenth  (Approx. 1 3/8" x 1 5/8") $40
Approximate Return Shipping Costs
One or Two daguerreotypes $8
Three to Five daguerreotypes $12
Six to Ten daguerreotypes $16
  • Ask about discounts on groups of seven or more daguerreotypes.
  • A minimum deposit of 50% of the estimate is required with your shipment. The balance is due upon return of your dags. An exact return shipping cost will be determined once we receive your images.
Testimonials
  • Mr. Waters produced an amazing transformation in the restoration of the following: 1 daguerreotypes, 3 ambrotypes and 2 tintypes. These are family members and trust was an issue in this very personal task. However, this was eliminated as we communicated through the process. The deterioration of the cover glass and frame on each were in disrepair. They were reassembled in a professional manner to prevent further corrosion by Casey Waters. I am immensely pleased with the results of his recommendations. - Marion P. Howard
  • Dear Casey: Today I received back the Odd Fellows image I sent you for restoration. Words fail me when I try to express how delighted I am with the wonder you have wrought. It's absolutely miraculous! Based on our phone conversation, I expected that you would lose the red tinting, but lo and behold, it survived. I am thoroughly entranced with this result, and will hasten to remit the additional $8 I owe you for this superb accomplishment. Sincerely - Mike Musick
  • My recent discovery of spectacular half plate of young man armed with multiple weapons prompted consideration of professional conservation. But never having purchased this service, I was hesitant to ship the image out of state. Casey and Dennis carefully walked me through the process while keeping me advised of progress - and sharing their own excitement over the image - via several phone calls. The dag was back in Minnesota within a week and revealed in all its glory with new glass and archival reseal, and I have met two kindred spirits in the appreciation of early photography! Stephen Osman
  • This is a cinderella story --- in stereo. As you can see in the before and after pictures, Casey Waters, working in conjunction with an artist, restored an important French nude stereo daguerreotype that I own. While I knew for some time that dirt and fogging under the old glass suggested the advisability of new glass, the situation became dire when, as a result of a transportation mishap, the original cover glass was cracked. With expert hands and shrewd judgment, Mr. Waters diagnosed the issues involved, discussed the options with me, disassembled the image, ordered new glass, and arranged for an artist to precisely recreate the black underglass painting (a common and exacting feature of many french dags). Casey had the deft hand and the careful eye to bring all the historically correct elements back together again. I couldn't be happier. My pocketbook is happy because the cost was so reasonable, and the history of photography is well served by this professional restoration and preservation. John Kadel Boring. El Granada, California
  • As a serious collector of Western Americana, I have been very cautious about having important material conserved. Casey Waters came highly recommended to me, so I had him work on a couple pieces initially to see how well he would do. The transformation was spectacular. I couldn't have been more pleased. Since then, I have had the pleasure of meeting Casey, and discussing his philosophy of restoration. Preservation of important historical material is his primary goal, but he has also added a lot of financial value to the images that he conserves. Casey recently finished one of my most important pieces, and the change was breathtaking. I highly recommend Casey for your conservation needs. Ray Frederick
  • Daguerreotypes are fragile items and in the wrong hands much damage can easily be done.  Casey Waters has the temperament and proficiency to conserve these precious, historical jewels.  He has an excellent understanding in what should be done to improve the image without causing detriment.  To carefully clean or not to clean an image is an important judgment call.  Also the task of sealing an image without having any dust under the glass is not an easy accomplishment as I well know from experience.  It is wonderful to get back a great image that seems to have risen to a higher level of excellence after it leaves Casey's hands.  He, like his dad, has a great appreciation of the daguerreian art and it shows in his treatment of these mirrors from the past. Ron Jacqmin
  • It was a gamble when I bought the daguerreotype of the Mexican War sergeant. I paid relatively little for it, considering its subject, but I realized it would not be a good addition to my collection unless it underwent exceptional restoration. The heavy blue corrosion was a dense layer of scum obscuring the top of the soldier's head and much of the rest of the image; a hailstorm of dust seemed embedded in the plate. Fortunately, exceptional restoration is exactly what it got in the careful, deft hands of Casey Waters. When Dennis, his Dad, e-mailed me the "after" image, I was astonished. Distracting tarnish is gone, leaving just a hint to remind one of its great age; and the image does not have that over-scrubbed look that a poorly restored dag has. The sergeant's chevrons, pointing up according to the regulations that were in effect before 1851, are easy to see now, though they were almost invisible before. I had hoped it would be a nice image but it turned out much better than I dared anticipate. I'm fascinated by this portrait, which I now see has a charming directness and primitiveness . We suspect it was taken on the frontier (possibly Texas) or maybe in Mexico. I can only say, Thank you so much for your skillful work, Casey. My gamble paid off. Joe Bauman, Salt Lake City
  • Casey Waters is truly a master of daguerreotype restoration. I never cease to be amazed at the incredible work he does to restore images to as near to their original state as possible. I believe the likes of Southworth & Hawes, Williamson, McClees & Germon, et al, would have gladly employed Casey in virtually any capacity in their studios due to his meticulous artistry. Besides the incredibly improved aesthetics of each dag after Casey is through with them, you can be assured that his miraculous work will add great value to your images as well. Certainly far beyond the small investment to have the restoration done in the first place. Casey is simply the best. Aaron Benneian
  • The cover glass is the window into an image. If you are looking through a dirty or damaged window it impairs the enjoyment that the photographer intended the viewer to experience. Casey is an expert at reglazing images and was taught by one of the best (his father). Houdini couldn't do more with a piece of tape and a small piece of glass. Mike Medhurst
  • The testimonials to Casey Waters' work are well-deserved, and they're based on tangible results. I'll add only two things, and that's integrity and enthusiasm. Casey has plenty of both. Greg French
  • It was an act of faith on my part, to send my treasured family daguerreotypes off to Casey to be restored. I've had them in my possesion for about 15 years now, and have never been able to view one of them (George Woodruff, my gr. gr. gr. Uncle). I actually couldn't tell if it was worth saving or not. Dirt and debris covered it to the point where I could only guess what lay beneath the glass. The other, (John Mathiot, my gr. gr. Grandfather) was visibly deteriorating, since I had a photo of it taken in the 1970's that I could compare it to. I felt a sense of urgency to restore them, but yet, was hesitant to trust them with just any conservationist. I have seen many beautiful dags ruined by people claiming to know the best techniques. Also, I live in a small town in Montana, and this work is hard to come by. When I'd find someone, I would reject it for the expense ($75.00 an hour) or because it didn't seem to be what I was looking for. And so it went for quite a long time. Since I am the family historian, I believe it is my job to protect and insure the survival of the many wonderful objects my family owns pertaining to it's history. I don't consider them "mine". My intent is to pass them on to the next generation, in as good of a condition as possible. And so, I felt a heavy responsibility. One day, I was looking at daguerreotypes on the internet and I found this site. I had become more interested in old photographs because of their lovliness, and also to learn more about my family's collection. I also wanted to learn more about dags to help me make an informed decision about a conservationist. I was extremely impressed with the before and after portraits and the testimonials on the finedags.com restoration page. Also there was a lot of information to help me feel the confidence to make a decision. I contacted Casey, and his easy manner, and knowledge reassured me. At last, I'd found someone to trust with my beloved dags! And so it began; the almost magical transformation of these again beautiful portraits. It was with utter joy that I viewed their renewed vibrancy. The cost was very reasonable, and I think that is important for people like me, who are the guardians of the past, without the funds of a collector. Also, I know there are others, who have looked for a long time for that perfect match in a conservationist. Casey is easy to work with, personable, and skillful beyond your wildest dreams. I most highly recommend the work of Casey Waters, and it is with pleasure that I write this testimonial. Annie Cover Fry Montana
  • Casey, I must tell you how delighted I am with the work you've done on the Dags I gave you. No one I know is better at replacing the glass & resealing the images! ! I don't know how you do it....out of the 30 you've done so far there isn't a single micro speck between the glass & the dag on any of them. Amazing. You've turned them into jewels. More to come. In the meantime...thanks a million! Pam Ferrazzutti, Toronto, Canada
  • Casey Waters is a dag restoration artist. I have been pleased with every image I have had him do for me; he has reduced or in some cases completely eliminated the visibility of mat abrasions with his expert mat repositioning and archival reseals; sometimes he has even been successful in removing copper eruptions from the plate surface which enormously improved the viewing of the image. Casey's careful cleaning of some of the portraits in my collection has resulted in a doubling or even a tripling of their value for some of them. I recommend his careful, professional work without reservation. Paul I. Johnston, Ph.D.
  • Thank you so much for the tender care of my great-great-grandparents wedding daguerreotype. The image just sparkles! In addition, your prompt communication every step of the way certainly put my mind at ease. I appreciated that. I would highly recommend your service. In my opinion, cleaning (reglassing and archivally taping) daguerreotypes is an art. It must be done by someone with vast experience. I believe you to be one of only a few that has attained that experience. Gratefully, Lisa DeYoung Bloomfield, Iowa
  • I am happy to mention that I sent several fine daguerreotypes to Casey Waters for restoration. They were restored beautifully, with careful workmanship, and returned to me promptly. Further, Casey was able to advise me on which pieces were worth restoring, saving me restoration costs, and what restoration work he proposed. He is professional, pleasant and very experienced. I have the highest degree of confidence and regard for his work and would not hesitate to send him any more dags. E. Bang
  • Thanks for your e-mail and scan. I must tell you that I had to stare carefully at the image for about 20 minutes this morning...I am amazed at how much detail is visible. Casey's efforts have made a dingy, almost unviewable image see the light of day. I am thrilled from what I see. I am thoroughly amazed. While it is a shame that not all of the spots are removable, they don't especially bother me. I'm just glad to be able to see so much more than before. Just wonderful. Gilbert Estrada
  • I began to archivally seal daguerreotypes shortly after acquiring my first few examples in 1985, when I was 35. Casey and his sister Erin immediately took an interest in my hobby that rapidly expanded into a business. I think Casey probably resealed his first daguerreotype when he was 10 years old. He has the same inquisitive nature as myself; wanting to know what might be hidden underneath the brass or paper mats. On many occasions, he calls out from his office, to share a new hallmark, an odd plate preparation or another form of daguerreian minutia with me. We both want to see every daguerreotype as they were meant to be viewed, through clean glass. Casey has gained valuable experience by archivally preserving hundreds of daguerreotypes in the past couple years. (He is 24 now). Casey is extremely patient attempting to make certain that the new glass has no scratches and that pieces of dust aren't on the surface of the daguerreotype or the underside of the glass as the package is taped. Like myself, Casey attempts to make every daguerreotype better than it was. Dennis Waters
SHIPPING INSTRUCTIONS AND ADDRESS
  • We prefer to ship via USPS Priority Mail with a tracking slip.
  • Please carefully pack your daguerreotypes with sufficient bubble wrap or other shock absorbing materials before placing them in a box. The postal service provides Priority Mail boxes at no cost. Tracking slips are extra, but well worth the minimal investment.
  • Include your payment, return shipping address, email address and phone number with your daguerreotypes.
  • Send to:
    Casey A. Waters
    P.O. Box 1073
    Exeter,NH 03833
  • If you prefer using FedEx or UPS the physical address is:
    15 Oak St. Exeter, NH 03833
  • Since we have recently had an incident with the USPS I have decided that from now on, Erin, Casey and I will send every image through the mail requiring a certified mail receipt that requires your signature. The additional charge will be $2.40, plus the cost of the Priority Mail. We will waive the signature requirement if you make a purchase from us and tell us in an email that you would like the parcel sent Priority Mail with the normal delivery confirmation slip. I know how bothersome this is, but we want to provide the best images and service possible, within the limitations of the carriers we work with. As for insurance on packages, don't believe for a moment that carriers who allow you to purchase it, will completely back up any claim.
INSURANCE RESPONSIBILITIES
Our insurance covers your dags upon our reception, during restoration and return shipping. Our insurance DOES NOT presently cover a potential mishap while physical work is actually being done on your daguerreotypes. We are attempting to find a policy that will cover workmanship. You are responsible to insure your dags when you send them to us. We require a description and estimated value of each dag before you ship them.
PAYMENTS
Check, money order, or PayPal.
SATISFACTION GUARANTEED