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It was a gamble when I bought the daguerreotype of the Mexican War sergeant. I paid relatively little for it, considering its subject, but I realized it would not be a good addition to my collection unless it underwent exceptional restoration. The heavy blue corrosion was a dense layer of scum obscuring the top of the soldier’s head and much of the rest of the image; a hailstorm of dust seemed embedded in the plate. Fortunately, exceptional restoration is exactly what it got in the careful, deft hands of Casey Waters. When Dennis, his Dad, e-mailed me the “after” image, I was astonished. Distracting tarnish is gone, leaving just a hint to remind one of its great age; and the image does not have that over-scrubbed look that a poorly restored dag has. The sergeant’s chevrons, pointing up according to the regulations that were in effect before 1851, are easy to see now, though they were almost invisible before. I had hoped it would be a nice image but it turned out much better than I dared anticipate. I’m fascinated by this portrait, which I now see has a charming directness and primitiveness . We suspect it was taken on the frontier (possibly Texas) or maybe in Mexico. I can only say, Thank you so much for your skillful work, Casey. My gamble paid off.

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