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A year or so ago, I found a tinted daguerreotype of an unidentified young lady by Elliott & Fry (E&F). The case and lining paper behind the daguerreotype carry the E&F name and address (55 Baker St., London). The shape of the case and mount window seem quite unusual.
I am puzzled by this item for two reasons.
1. E&F were established in 1863. By this time daguerreotypes were not commonly made as far as I understand.
2, Although E&F are very well-known, I can find no other daguerreotypes, or indeed any other type of cased image, by the firm.
I have some questions:
1. Has anyone seen any other daguerreotypes by E&F?
2. Does anyone know if E&F, or other studios established after 1860, may have sub-contracted daguerreotype orders out to other studios or hired freelance daguerreotypists on an ad hoc basis?
3. Does anyone know of any interesting literature on post-1860 daguerreotype production in London or elsewhere?
4. Does anyone recognise the sitter?
I attach images of the case cover, lining paper and daguerreotype plate.
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Hi, Martin. I’m glad you agree that the image is probably by Claudet and was possibly sealed more than once.
In answer to your other remarks:
Ken may know about late daguerreotypes. They were made much later in the US, particularly by itinerant photographers. In 1855 Beard's patent expired, and by then Talbot had lost his patent case against Archer, so most commercial studios switched to albumen and Ambrotypes, with Cartomania from the end ofd the 1860s.
However, Claudet continued to make daguerreotypes until his death in 1869 and there is no reason to suppose that other makers entirely gave up the process. It would have remained an option depending on client's wishes.
Thank you Ken and Steve
Ken is certainly right about the Claudet props. A quick Google search reveals many Claudet images with a very similar-looking chaise lounge and a few with a very similar side-table. They are almost certainly one and the same in both cases.
Ken's theory that the dag was re-housed also seems very plausible when I look in detail at the paper lining. There is clear evidence of an earlier paper lining, as can be seen from the close-up I include below.
What I find very strange is that E&F would have re-housed a Claudet daguerreotype in a case bearing their own name. Is it not more likely that a client specifically wanted a daguerreotype and E&F sub-contracted the work to Claudet because they didn't have the necessary equipment and expertise?
I am actually surprised that E&F even had their own cases. It has been a while, but when I last did a thorough internet search I could find no cased images (not just dags) by E&F at all. The case itself is very luxurious indeed, being either in sharkskin or at least having a sharkskin finish. I wonder if they had it made especially for their valued client? For completeness sake, and to show what I mean about being luxurious, I attach an image of the back of the case.
A question for Steve. You mention 55 Baker St. in your last post. Did you mean 55-56 Baker St.? Most sites say that E&F were at 55-56 Baker St. from the day they were established in 1863 but others say that they extended their premises to include 56 Baker St. in the 1880s, quoting H.B. Pritchard as their source, as Ken does.
The whole topic of why daguerreotypes stopped being produced interests me. Is there any literature that discusses this in detail? Did the photographers just stop offering to make daguerreotypes because other processes were easier and more profitable or did consumers force the change? Perhaps a bit of both?
A quick point on Ken's post. Eliot and Fry were working at 55 Baker Street at least as early as 1867. There are advertisements by them for that address in the London Trade directories.
Hmm. Very interesting. I’ve never seen an Elliott & Fry daguerreotype but I suppose it is possible. We’ve written something about ‘later’ daguerreotypes in our work on John’s Ruskin’s daguerreotypes. Some people consider that Ruskin worked with an ‘obsolete process’ as some his work dates from as late as 1858.
We have looked into ‘late daguerreotypes’ and have found that some daguerreotypists definitely continued to work until the 1860s and great enthusiasts like Thomas Easterly of St. Louis worked until the 1870s. Mayall advertised taking ‘daguerreotypes daily’ in London until at least 1860.
My own take on the reason for many people believing that there are almost no ‘later’ daguerreotypes is because cased daguerreotypes do not readily allow a suitable place for writing a date. Historians and museums have thus been forced to use their best guess to establish a date. The result is that there is a tendency to reinforce standard historical assumptions based on little or no evidence for any particular daguerreotype under consideration. in other words, since most daguerreotypes are undated, museums tend to write c. 1850 or c. 1854, which indeed represent common dates of the process’s highest popularity but this does not mean those dates apply to all daguerreotypes. Interestingly, stereoscopic daguerreotypes do usually have a paper backing and thus a place for the owner to write the date. I have seem a few such examples dated in the early 1860s.
Having said all that, my hunch is the same as has been just expressed – that E & F have likely re-cased someone else’s daguerreotype. The shape looks possibly be one half of a stereo-daguerreotype. Maybe the glass was smashed over the other half and the owner wanted a new housing for the ‘good’ half. Indeed, in my opinion this is a work by Claudet – the chaise lounge is identical to a prop familiar from Claudet’s studio and the mauve colouring is also typical of his choice of colouring.
From the paper backing you illustrate, it looks like Elliott and Fry may have crudely used some printed paper from their studio to help re-seal the daguerreotype. According to Michael Pritchard’s directory, the address we see on the paper backing (55 and 56 Baker Street) represents an address of a studio only opened in 1887. On the other hand the case seems definitely early and I would guess no later than early 1860s. So, is this a Claudet daguerreotype twice re-housed by Elliott and Fry?? I hope this helps a little rather than confuses the situation even more.
P.S.- As I am writing this I can see there are now more pictures and comments on the daguerreotype. It has been confirmed as a sixth-plate (this suggesting it could be a stereo daguerreotype half) and that Claudet has been mentioned by Steve Edwards.
Apologies for accidentally sending my reply to this thread as a separate blog which is the next one after this thread.
Thank you Bobbie.
I never really considered the sitter's age in any depth.
I have always assumed that she was in her 20s but I suppose she could be much younger.
While not knowing anything about the technicalities of the photo production asked about ~ my immediate impression on clicking-on the first portrait picture presented, before the dismantled parts of the framing are then shown below, was that portrait was of a young girl 'studio-attired' as a 'little lady'. Appearing to me as a teenager she could be as young as 13 years old, maybe even younger.
Thanks Martin. Let's talk in Oxford.
Thank you Steve. If I can help with the book in any way just let me know. I have some very high resolution TIFF images. I will be attending the Oxford event in March by the way.
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