When I obtained this professionally conserved half plate masterpiece in September 1987, in trade for a rare mining scene and several fine portraits, I wondered if I had made a mistake. I had only been collecting daguerreotypes for two years, but even then I realized that these gals were extraordinary and early, circa 1845. My confidence was buoyed when the man who gleefully made the trade, initially, tried for over a year to buy them back. Fast forward 28 years later and I have decided to offer the piece for sale. This portrait was a tour de force taken in a studio by a professional daguerreotypist who ingenuously contrived this brilliant pyramidal composition! He sat the oldest female in the center. I have always believed that she was the teacher and the kids surrounding her were pupils! Each individual face was a fascinating likeness. Interweaving his patrons with hands, arms and bodies touching was not only inspirational but also necessary. This many people were rarely daguerreotyped together so early (or throughout the era) using such an outstanding arrangement. Yes there were brief movements during the lengthy exposure by many of the girls, who weren?t supported by artificial devices. They would have relied on each other for physical support. The complete cooperation of each girl was an amazing achievement! Have you ever seen more exquisite use of illumination, done in a painterly style favored by Rembrandt and so many others through the years? Not only was the operator a splendid technical daguerreian, his sense of artistic arrangement was a triumphant success on finely polished silver. Flows of patina basically trace the outline of the plain octagonal mat. Decay from badly weeping glass left deposits on the teacher?s dress and in the fabric used as a neutral background. There are a few minor mold mites and other specks on the surface. Nothing harms this stupendous work of art, done so magnificently on a truly magically mirrored presentation. The warped leather case is correct for the period and added when I acquired the portrait. It has a professionally added leather spine.