Skip to content

Half Plate


Out of stock

SKU: D17-220 Category:

IN THE PIT! Thinking about how much manual effort it took to remove the loose rocks banked around the depression where the miners worked only begins to tell the tale of men working the rugged California terrain during the massive efforts to remove gold from the rivers, streams and earth. This stunning half plate daguerreotype, With an H.B. Eagle 40 hallmark, was most likely taken circa 1853 by an unidentified daguerreotypist who used a lens better suited for portraiture. While the sharpness was crisp in the center and foreground, the drop off became quite noticeable on the sides and in the background. That was an impressive amount of gold in the pan held by the red-shirted fellow. A few of his companions were also recipients of added pigments on their attire. I don’t see an obvious source of water but it must have been close by. A steady flow would have been directed into the beginning of the small wooden flume in the upper left corner of the professionally conserved historical gem. Casey made a quick gathering of pixels when the large surface was naked and it appeared that the flume bent towards the right in the top left corner and continued running across the landscape. Several miners? cabins were visible in the trees beyond the diggings. I haven?t done any proper research trying to locate the site. When the gorgeous complete leather case (because Casey made a new professional spine) is opened and the piece is examined and tilted in good light, the changing natural colors and the incredible shifting tonality will excite even the most jaded admirer of these rare views. Casey and I both remarked that a couple of the workers continued to look for specie at the flume while the lens was uncapped. There is no certain explanation why that area of decay occurred at the end of that long tom. Although it does seem like gold might have been applied there originally and the silver could have been abraded somewhat, thus permitting the copper to intrude. There is one other green dot against the bottom of the mat. Those six round water specks lower right and the black dots across the top were most likely part of the original process. After all when daguerreians were out working in the field they didn?t have the luxuries afforded to them in their studios. It should be considered most remarkable to any collector of fine daguerreotypes that such a large number of these monumental historical records were even taken. There is scant provenance except to say the image was purchased by a dealer on a house call in Concord NH. The plate surfaced in a New York City flea market in July before being purchased in the afternoon and arriving back in New Hampshire via FedEx to me.