Sixth Plate



D1-131    Terms of Sale

A CRUEL HAND! This is a very remarkable and sensitive image of a boy about 10 years old seated next to a rough wooden table. He rested his right arm on the furniture and cradled a large open book, which he appeared to be reading. His left hand was neatly placed on his thigh, thus completing a superbly composed image, framed by a very early oval mat stamped with a repetitive six-sided pattern. The brilliant operator was identified in the lower left corner. H.H. Long and his brother Enoch were natives of Hopkinton NH. Floyd Rinhart along with his wife Marion, my first dag mentors, told me that the Long brothers were disciples of Robert Cornelius and they traveled to Philadelphia in mid-1842 to learn the secrets of the art while working in the studio located at 810 Market St. Cornelius also mentioned that there were many other aspiring daguerreotypists who visited his location there and previously at Eighth St. and Lodge Alley. All the information presented above would be enough to excite me, but there is so much more! The restored sixth plate was housed in the original Robert Cornelius style (sic) case with tiny flower design on both sides, a purple silk pad and green velvet liner surround the subject. The case is warped and has a missing spine. The image itself is nearly identical in lighting and the arrangement that Cornelius fabricated of Martin Hans Boye on Dec. 6, 1841. The table is the same and possibly the book. This is the only child’s portrait known to me that was taken in the Cornelius studio in mid-1842. The plate was hand cut and quite heavy, while the corners were square. Some sort of device was used at the top of this plate to hold it (while it was being buffed?) leaving two very small circular marks on either side of the center. The four sides were flat, the image appeared to be multiply sensitized and gilded with gold chloride. No one has accurately ascertained what month Cornelius and his partner, Dr. Paul Beck Goddard began gilding their finished images. I suspect either in the winter of 1841 or spring 1842. The original paper seal is still in the bottom of the case, which is remarkable since someone terribly abused the image while attempting to clean it. A green adhesive or wax was used to adhere the paper to the plate, which covered the entire back. This was not an uncommon practice on Cornelius’s (and other makers) very early images. But now, after explaining the physical evidence, the mystery begins. What is the Long imprint doing on an image that was definitely taken in the Cornelius studio in 1842? I cannot imagine Cornelius allowing Long to use his own name on a daguerreotype made in the Philadelphia salon, unless Long actually worked for him for a short time. According to Floyd, the brothers traveled to Georgia during the winter months of 1842-1843. Could Horatio have matted the work of art AFTER he left Cornelius? While I still don’t know answers to my own questions, and I have thought about the child often since I acquired him in 1991, this extremely rare and valuable daguerreotype might be a missing link in the Robert Cornelius story! Before I mention the price, I want you all to realize, that even with the finest experimental portraits in my own collection, I consider condition very important when ascertaining a value. I can assure you all if this splendid piece was in original condition, the price would be much higher!

For Purchase Inquiry Contact:
Erin Waters at