Sixth Plate



D3-91    Terms of Sale

RATHER REMARKABLE! A classic very early sixth plate daguerreotype portraying a young man seated ramrod straight. His large hands with fingers entwined, were pressed tightly against his stomach. He is holding his breath and has firmly locked his jaws in anticipation of a long exposure, certainly more than 10 seconds. Two pinpoints of light reflected in his eyes, a lack of facial shadows and a faint head shadow on the neutral grey drop indicates that the source of the bright illumination was directly behind the camera and the sitter was nearly against that drop. The narrow cone was directed at his face and upper torso. Look how much darker his hands are. I doubt if a head restraint was used for this remarkable archivally taped portrait. I am very impressed with this fellow's ability to concentrate and not move or blink during the exposure. The cut of his dark jacket, with tightly fitting sleeves and broad lapels, a flamboyant gaily patterned lighter vest, white shirt with a turned down collar and small, tightly knotted dark tie permitted this dapper fellow to make a bold fashion statement. Of course, his wonderful flat hat with a wide band, crowning his curly locks might provide a clue to his occupation or more likely, he dressed in his finest clothing for this delightful portrait. The plate, with one of America's earliest hallmarks, Corduan & Co. NY, is a masterpiece in itself. It is a heavy and flat with all four sides slightly trimmed, creating square corners. There is a single striation across the top and bottom inset about 1/8 of an inch. The buff marks are heavy and in rather random directions, visible at different angles. I think that the plate was sensitized more than once and because of the superb toning (which I don't believe comes from a gold chloride bath) I feel that one of the agents was definitely bromine. The man is framed by a brilliant gold leaf rectangular paper mat and the package was sealed with a fibrous medium blue paper that covered the entire reverse of the plate. The bottom of the top hinged leather case (which had an intact spine until the previous owner dropped it) was lined with shiny dark blue paper. The cover has a pair of scribed rectangular lines that cross at the corners and inside the squares are identical six-sided leafy designs. Another double line is along the outside edge of the cover and reverse, which is otherwise plain. All these incredible facts are wonderful but almost secondary to the condition of this piece. The plate has typical smoky tarnish inside the mat but the silver is nearly pristine. The original preparations and the conditions that this plate was stored under have been very conducive for the magnificent state of preservation today. The thin, black velvet pad has an area that is rubbed, but otherwise this daguerreotype was hardly ever handled. It is a spectacular example of a powerful plate from the 1841 era.

For Purchase Inquiry Contact:
Dennis A. Waters at