Posted 12 years ago
The very first generation of commercial cameras used the daguerreotype process; basically shooting one-of-a-kind images on silver coated, copper plates. Even today, no other process (including digital) rivals the tonal delicacy of a well made daguerreotype image.
The first commercially made daguerreotype camera appeared in 1839, and a fine example of one of the very first of these sold for EUR 732.000 at a 2010 auction!
These first generation cameras are prized by historians and collectors because of their rarity, legacy and beauty. One prominent, world renowned collector & authority believes that only 250 (or so) daguerreotype cameras still exist.
Shown here is an unusually excellent example of an early 1/4-plate American style bellows camera with its original Palmer & Longking radial drive lens. It is also one of the few with the factory stamp, which in itself is unusual, ground glass (for viewing & composing), and hand-hammered square-head nails.
The camera body is covered in a fine, French polished rosewood veneer that has [remarkably] retained its mirror-like finish. I wish my photography was good enough to convey the beauty of the wooden body.
The third image shows the rear of the camera and the heavy cast metal focusing knob. What’s interesting is that the photographer etched an oval into the ground glass as an aid to compose a portrait that would be displayed in an oval-masked case. You can almost imagine the patiently seated studio patrons who appeared inside the oval.