The archivists processed this collection based on information from the Getty Institute, Smithsonian, and the Daguerreobase. This collection is likely from post-1842 as they have a “gilded” encasing, which was treated with a solution of gold chloride. Some have been hand-colored with dry pigments mixed with gum arabic. According to John P. McElhone who specialized in cased photographs “Most daguerrotype images are laterally reversed; some later daguerrotypes cameras included a mirror system to correct the image reversal.” Since the museum does not have access to the original camera, we don’t know which perspective the image was actually taken.
Preservation + Conservation
If you own a daguerreotype, we recommend that you place it in a dark container and reduce the exposure to light. Custom enclosures are advised for each piece.
“The Getty Conservation Institute stated, “the standardized daguerreotype process after 1843 entailed seven essential steps: plate polishing, sensitization, camera exposure, development, fixation, gilding, and drying. The daguerreotype process is explored more fully in the Technical Note: Daguerreotype. The daguerreotype image is seen as a positive to full effect through a combination of the reflection the plate surface and the scattering of light by the imaging particles. Housings exist in great variety of style, usually following the fashion of miniature portrait presentation. The daguerreotype plate is extremely vulnerable to mechanical damage and the deteriorating influences of atmospheric pollutants. Hence, highly colored and obscuring corrosion films are commonly found on daguerreotypes. Many daguerreotypes have been damaged or destroyed by uninformed attempts to wipe these films away. Professional chemical “cleaning” methods have long been employed. Growing understanding of the complexity of the physical and chemical deterioration manifestations of the daguerreotype has led to a very conservative approach to the “restoration” of this form of photography.”
Preserving Your Personal Collection: Daguerreotypes
How to make an archival storage box for your daguerreotype.