Truthful Likeness

On August 19th, 1839 a bold inventor, Louis Daguerre, premiered his invention a “truthful likeness” at the French Academy of Sciences meeting in Paris. These daguerreotypes created a highly detailed image on a sheet of copper plated with a thin coat of silver without the use of a negative. Seductively beautiful, these earliest photographs required a significant amount of skill.

Whenever I hit a flea market, I always end up looking through old photos and picture albums, or fiddling with antique cameras and film equipment. Something about these fading images of someone else’s past, lost loves, fantastic journeys, or fabulous sites can keep me spellbound for hours. The art of the photograph has been lost somewhat. It used to be quite a big deal -the preparation, the chemistry, the manufacture, now all replaced by the digital age. Capture, edit, delete or save, print or send, copies? ..no problem. Usually I find a small assortment of items, browse for several minutes purchase a few favorites and move on. This time, however, I never moved on. My husband, who usually gets bored with “smalls”, was totally immersed in a conversation with the stall proprietor regarding a series of “magic lanterns” and an overwhelming pile of halotypes (glass plate images, the precursor of modern slides). I had not looked up from the thousands of daguerreotypes, tintypes and carte-de-visites. We finally looked at each other incredulously and, after some back and forth haggling, purchased the entire lot: cameras, film, equipment, photos, pictures, and the like. One truckload to go please.

Anyway, over the next few days I will show you some of the wares. Too much to explain, you have to come see it to believe it.

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