Sixth Plate



D11-169    Terms of Sale

"DAGUERREOTYPE"! Where do I begin describing one of the most important extant sixth plate daguerreotypes from the earliest time portraits on copper and silver were taken in America? After asking a dealer if he had anything for me and hearing him say no several times, I wandered back to his table an hour later as if drawn intuitively there to see this monumental likeness tucked into the lower left corner of his display case. The first part of the historically important artifact that caught my eye was the upper right part of the glass that had a distinct crack running on a diagonal. I knew it was done many years ago because an obvious tarnish line had formed. While I was studying the piece before the dealer sheepishly handed the gent to me I had already catalogued (in my mind) the wide hand cut rectangular mat with "DAGUERREOTYPE" neatly stamped across the bottom center in the thick brass. Fast forwarding, after carefully dismantling the package that was held in a wonderful complete top hinged leather case with yellow paper in the bottom and a plain purple silk pad opposite the fellow I studied the naked plate that was medium weight and also cut from a larger piece of stock. The sides were flat and each corner was relatively squared. There were no hallmarks or any indication of who produced the plate. (Please study the second scan). Without any doubt in my mind I immediately knew that this primitive effort was produced by a practitioner of the art at the beginning of daguerreian time. He had the mat especially created to display so that passersby could see for the very first time, what a marvelous invention the daguerreotype was circa late 1839 into early 1840. The point of focus was on the edge of the subject's collar (oh dag gods who was he?). Since the exposure was most likely many minutes can we fault the man for moving his torso and head? Direct blast sunlight bathed him and I wonder if he was situated outdoors with a white cloth hung behind? Because the composition is rather loose, I suspect that the crudely prepared glass elements in the operator's lens wouldn't focus any closer. The surface was buffed conventionally then polished willy-nilly. All the artifacts in the silver, the black dots and pits covered with thick shellac certainly point directly towards the one of the earliest American efforts being attempted. The portrait is a national treasure that survived at least one previous person taking apart the package and making a second brown paper seal. I don't believe that the surface was ever altered by cleaning.

For Purchase Inquiry Contact:
Dennis A. Waters at