vigour and energy, an extraordinary force and vitality,
Early in February, 1840, Mr. Johnson, Sen., (since deceased) sailed for Europe with a few specimen likenesses taken with the instruments completed as above, with the intention of patenting the invention. On his arrival a joint arrangement was effected with Mr. Richard Beard, of London, in patenting and working the invention in England. Up to February, 1840, but few friends had been made acquainted with the progress of the art in the hands of Mr. Wolcott and myself. From time to time reports reached us from various sources of the success of others, and specimens of landscapes, etc., were exhibited at Dr. James R. Chilton's laboratory, in Broadway, much to the gratification of the numerous visitors and anxious expectants for this most wonderful discovery. Dr. Chilton, Professor J. J. Mapes, Professor J. W. Draper. Professor S. F. B. Morse, all of this city; Mr. Cornelius, Dr. Goddard and others of Philadelphia; Mr. Southworth, Professor Plumbe, and numerous others were early in the field; all, however, using the same description of camera as that of Daguerre, with modification for light, either by enlargement by lens and aperture for light, or by shortening the focal distance.
At a conversational meeting of the Mechanics' Institute, Professor J. J. Mapes being present, a question was asked if any one present could give information relative to portraiture from life by the Daguerreotype. Mr. Kells, a friend of Mr. Wolcott and a scientific and practical man (sinced deceased), at once marked out upon the black-board, the whole as contrived by Mr. Wolcott. This gave publicity to the invention of Mr. Wolcott. Shortly after, Professor Mapes, Dr. Chilton, and many others, sat for their portraits, and were highly gratified. Professor Morse also came and proposed to Mr. Wolcott to join him in the working of the invention, etc.
From this time much interest was manifested by our friends in our progress. Rooms were obtained in the Granite Buildings, corner of Broadway and Chambers street, and fitted for business. The rooms being small, it was soon found impracticable to use the arrangement of looking-glass, as previously spoken of; a new plan became necessary, to introduce which, the sashes were removed,
and two large looking-glasses were mounted in proper frames, thus:--
Just in front, and between the sitter and
the reflector, upon a proper stand, were used those paper muslin screen before described; also screens of tissue paper. These screens. however, when they were used, required so much time for a sitting, that some other medium, as a protection to the eyes, became absolutely necessary. The most plausible thing that suggested itself was blue glass; but, as this could not be found, numerous were the expedients proposed by the friends of the art, who from time to time visited our rooms. At the suggestion of Professor Mapes (who is ever ready to assist those in perplexity), a trough of plate glass s, about twenty-eight inches square in the clear, and from three to four inches thick, was filled with a solution of ammonia sulphate of copper, and mounted on the frame as in the sketch, which, for a time, answered extremely well; soon, however, decomposition of this solution became apparent from the increased length of time required for a sitting, although to the eye of an observer, no visible cause for such long sittings could be pointed out. Professor Mapes being appealed to, suggested that to the above solution a little acid be added which acted like a charm-- shortening the time for a sitting from six, eight, or ten minutes to that of about one. Decomposition, however, would go on by the action of light and heat through the solution. New solutions were tried, when the whole were finally abandoned as being, too uncertain and troublesome. (The reflecting apparatus R, was placed upon the stand as in the sketch, with a wedge for elevating the camera, between it and the table, to obtain the image properly upon the plate.) A quantity of blue window glass was next obtained, and holes drilled through the corners of it, and several sheets were wired together to increase the size, and, when complete, was suspended from the ceiling in its proper place, and so arranged that when a person was sitting, this sheet of glass could be moved to and from, the object of which was to prevent shadows on the face of the sitter produced from the uneven surface of the glass. This latter contrivance was used until a perfect plate of glass was procured.
The number of persons desirous of obtaining, their miniatures, induced many to entertain the idea of establishing themselves in the Art as a profession, and numerous were the applications for information; many persons paying for their portraits solely with the view of seeing the manner of our manipulations, in order that they might obtain information to carry on likeness-taking as a business.
The reflecting camera being a very troublesome instrument to make, and difficulties besetting us from every source, but little attention could be given to teaching others; and, indeed, as the facts seemed to be at this time, we knew but little of the necessary manipulations ourselves. In course of time, several established themselves. The first one, after ourselves, who worked the discovery of Daguerre for portrait taking in this city, was a Mr. Prosch; followed soon after by many others, in almost all cases copying the reflecting arrangement for light, as figured above, many using it even after we had long abandoned that arrangement for a better one.
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