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Baker’s Stereo Daguerreotype Viewing Case with Original Image Pair, mid-1850s

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    Posted 5 years ago

    rniederman
    (322 items)

    In looking into the beginnings of photography soon after its invention, I am truly amazed at how quickly it spread to the farthest corners of the world just after its 1839 announcement; and even more so as I broaden my research and camera collection to include early daguerreotype viewers and stereoscopes.

    The origin of the first practical photographic process started in France and was not universally embraced as it is today. As with most inventions and innovations, photography had its share of skeptics and, for a brief time, scorn rained down on Louis Daguerre’s 1839 announcement. Regardless, due to pent up public interest after the April 19th announcement in Paris, photography quickly made its way to Britain, Germany and crossed the Atlantic to the United States. Samuel Morse recognized the importance of Daguerre’s achievement in a letter to the inventor on May 20th. He subsequently learned the process and taught others.

    Evidence of photography’s incredibly fast ascension to a global level is also seen in remote countries such as India as early as January 1840. Commercialization of the country’s photographic trade was assisted by the government and by the 1850s it was no longer considered a novelty.

    This rare 1850s viewer with original daguerreotype image pair made by F.W. Baker of Calcutta is an example of India’s maturing photographic industry. Baker, after moving to Calcutta, was first employed as an assistant in 1855. By 1857 he established a studio and advertised it as “Baker’s Daguerrian Room” noting the availability of “Stereoscopic likenesses in Claudet’s patent folding cases.”

    This fine dark maroon leather covered folding viewer is based on a design patented by French photographer Antoine Claudet (#711, March 23, 1853). It is distinctive and important because, unlike other folding viewing cases, the lenses are mounted in a thin leather covered enclosure which springs out an inch (or so) to more comfortably view the image pair.

    The stereo daguerreotype of an anonymous well dressed gentleman and lady is not a great composition, only technically adequate, and lacks intimacy. Could this be a brother and sister? On the other hand, the stereo pair has nice artistic qualities. The photographer / artist painstakingly hand-tinted both images to be identical in appearance. If you think about it, tinting had to be done correctly the first time; coloring errors were not reversible and it took a lot of skill to keep from potentially ruining the images.

    The woman’s wonderfully lavish dress is made more striking with careful hand-tinting using a pink dye. The artist also had a light-handed deft touch in delicately tinting exposed skin (arms and faces) for a natural look; something that is usually overdone.

    Oh ... and a bit of trivia for those of you who got this far into this post ... the first successful daguerreotype in the United States, an 8 to 10 minute exposure of New York’s St. Paul’s church, was made by a local resident, D.W. Seager, on September 16, 1839. It was a remarkable event because the process was made public only a short time before then!

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    Comments

    1. NevadaBlades, 5 years ago
      Fascinating stuff! [;>)
    2. Caperkid, 5 years ago
      Great information and history thanks for sharing.
    3. valentino97 valentino97, 5 years ago
      Thank you as always for your research! I think yes, brother and sister.
    4. kyratango kyratango, 5 years ago
      Another wonderful piece!
      Thanks for sharing your outsanding collection and great knowledge in early photography :-)
    5. JohnKratz JohnKratz, 5 years ago
      Wonderful acquisition!
      Thanks for posting the stereo pair! I love getting the full effect (via the cross-eyed method)!
    6. vetraio50 vetraio50, 5 years ago
      Great post !!! Love this !!!
    7. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      NevadaBlades
      Caperkid
    8. PostCardCollector PostCardCollector, 5 years ago
      I am impressed that the image is just as sharp to my eye as anything today, and the the couple are so attractive. It makes your eyes just want to stare into the image longer than you usually would. I am fascinated!! Bravo!
    9. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Hi PCC ... you are correct that the image is very sharp. Daguerreotypes are pictures created directly on the surface of a silver coated copper plate. You pretty much get the full resolution of the lens because there is no intervening negative. Each dag is unique unless photographically copied. Even to this day, it is difficult to rival the tonal subtlety and detail of a well made daguerreotype. Unfortunately this comes with several drawbacks; mainly images are very fragile, can tarnish, and difficult to view due to its mirror-like characteristic. Otherwise, glad you enjoy the image.
    10. PostCardCollector PostCardCollector, 5 years ago
      I only have 1 dag, A boy and girl ,and the girl has a rabbit on her lap. The bunny moved his ears some, and that part was blurred--but it was an amazing photograph. Now 40 years since I got it, it is too dark to see very well. No matter, because the image has been indelibly registered on my brain,-- I loved it so--and I can see it in my mind's "eye" even as I type this!!
    11. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Oroyoroyisthatyourhorse ... funny about showing the link to the lens. However, you're right. These are not inexpensive. Have you looked at my other stereo dag case posts?

      http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/169537-stull-daguerreotype-viewing-case-c-1855

      http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/178056-mascher-stereo-daguerreotype-viewer-with
    12. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Oroyoroyisthatyourhorse ... appreciate all the 'loves' over the years! I didn't know your name changed.
    13. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      valentino97
      inky
      fortapache
      kyratango
    14. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      Thomas
      Michael
      TassieDevil
    15. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      David
      John K
      shughs
    16. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      Grandval
      BB2
      ravage60
    17. mcheconi mcheconi, 5 years ago
      Open the second picture to see it full size, cross your eyes and see the 3d effect!
    18. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      Efesgirl
      Oroyoroyisthatyourhorse
      PostCardCollector
      vetraio50
    19. courtenayantiques courtenayantiques, 5 years ago
      Wow, this is fabulous! I've never seen one before, had no idea they existed but now I want one!
      I love the photo, so crisp - makes me wonder who they were and what the occasion was.
      Thank-you for sharing your knowledge - off to see what else you have shared!
    20. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      pops52
      Rick55
      pw-collector
      Manikin
    21. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      mcheconi
      trukn20
      mtg75
    22. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      Celiene
      Sean
    23. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      Poire
      SpiritBear
      courtenayantiques
    24. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Longings!
    25. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      Poire
      Beachbum58
    26. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      crswerner
      Neighborguysfan
    27. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      NanaM
      iggy
      egreeley1976
    28. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      sugargirl
      fortapache
    29. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, AntigueToys!
    30. scottvez scottvez, 5 years ago
      Beautiful image!

      scott
    31. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Scott!
    32. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks!
      Manikin
      sanhardin
    33. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks, vintagegirl66!
    34. rniederman rniederman, 4 years ago
      Thanks, Phonoboy!

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