A DIFFERENT LIKENESS! Casey restored this awesome but very curious sixth plate. The gaily dressed little lass stood on a chair while she was being daguerreotyped. What was the operator thinking? Predictably, she moved her head while the lens was uncapped. I wonder why the daguerreotypist illuminated his tiny client using brightness from directly overhead creating deep shadows that fell over her eager eyes? Once he began developing the raw plate in vapors of mercury, the man realized that he would need to accelerate the process in order to render the kid’s face with more detail and accuracy. He was partially successful but the telltale sign of “pushing the development” was the formation of those white dots, daguerreian frosting, in the very darkest regions of the daguerreotype. There was certainly verve to the results that the maker embellished using a creative palette of pigments. The reflected depth is awesome and of course the child’s ensemble was absolutely brilliant! Remarkable ovals of rainbow patina circle the delightful girl. Now I relate the conundrum(s)! The plate?s hallmark was “H.B. eagle 40.” Red wax was slathered across the copper side of the plate, so a wooden block secured to a vice, would hold the plate firm during the buffing. Both the hallmark and that particular technique of polishing were used in the late 1840s. However the highly decorative brass mat wasn’t seen till the end of the 1850s. The fine thermoplastic case has a late patent of Aug. 7, 1855. Some of the remnants of the old seals remain. Was the first mat replaced with this example 10 years after the child was taken and the newer style case used as an upgrade at that time? Or did the studio actually continue to use older marked plates and this earlier style of preparation into the 1860s? As with many of the best and sometime curious portraits I attempt to reproduce, the original looks nothing like this flat one-dimensional gathering of pixels! Any specks seen are totally innocuous! I am totally intrigued and enamored by the portrait.
A DIFFERENT LIKENESS! Sixth Plate