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Le Daguerreotype IN Comptes Rendus Des Seances De L'Academie Des Sciences... Volume 9, July to December 1839


Paris: Bachelier 1839. First Edition. [4], 903, [1-errata] pages. 8 x 10 inches. 4to. 1/4 cloth over marbled boards with corners tipped in cloth. Ex-library (Harvard Chemical Library), properly withdrawn, with library bookplate on front pastedown endpaper and one stamp. Professionally rebacked with original spine panel laid down. Pageblock sound, solid, and clean. Light browning and foxing throughout. Housed in a custom solander case with curved green leather spine, raised bands and gilt lettering. Very Good. Boards. [18602]


We offer the entire Vol. 9 of Comptes Rendus Des Seances De L'Academie Des Sciences... July to December 1839. This volume contains the important article 'Le Daguerreotype', the first detailed, publically printed description of Daguerre's historic photographic process. "Arago, himself a chemist and a member of the Chamber of Deputies, made a brief pronouncement on Daguerre's process in the Chamber on 7 January 1839, and in the following August [ 19th, the paper offered here, ] printed the full text of his report thereon made to a joint session of the Chamber of Deputies and the Academy of Sciences. (The first publication by Daguerre himself (he was a painter by profession), is the monograph ... 'History and Description of the Dagerreotype Process'" also printed in 1839).

Termed by Horblit the 'First disclosure of Daguerre's process' it is the first public description of the process, which announcement spawned many announcements and a wave of amateur photographers in the few years following. The Arago/Daguerre article "Le Daguerreotype" is found on pages 250-267. Arago notes in his opening that Daguerre had a very sore throat and was a bit shy, hence the communication from Arago rather than the inventor himself: (google translation) "This morning, says Arago, I pray, I beg the skilled artist to be good enough to make a wish [ to present ] which seemed to me to be shared by everyone; but a severe sore throat; but fear not to make intelligible without the aid of planks; but a bit of shyness were obstacles I did not know defeat."

The fact that there was great interest is evident later in this volume. The very next issue, August 26th, includes a commentary by Silvestre "sur l'emploi du vernis de dextrine pour la préservation des images photogéniques" explaining the possible use of dextrine as a varnish for the new "photogenic pictures", an early term for photographs. The Sept 25 issue contains no less than three correspondents regarding the new process, including Besseyre, Donne, and again Arago with commentary regarding Niepce. Donne basically announces his use of a similar process for aid in drawing, Niepce tryed to assert priority but notes he hadn't published because of perceived defects. As with all great discoveries destined to affect human kind, Daguerre's publication immediately created a battle over priority.

Later in the volume, we find a Daguerre letter (again via Arago) read to the Chamber Sept 30th titled "Des procedes photogeniques consideres comme moyens de gravure." or "the photogenic process as a means of etching", a lengthy letter (pages 423-430) with much commentary. Later in the volume is a letter from Donne on p. 485, a letter on page 512 about using pumice to polish plates for Daguerreotypes, Seguier (p. 560) on a photographic device, etc etc The beauty of having a bound volume like this one is the context of the discovery and what/how it was received in this community. An even cursory review of 1840 in Gernsheim's British Photography will show the level of excitement and how fast the word spread. Everyone knew it was something special and important. This article was the start of it all for practitioners amateur and soon to be professional and a worthy addition to any collection of ideas, photography, or technology.

Printing and the Mind of Man #318 (referring to separate Daguerre publication), Horblit (One Hundred Books Famous in Science) # 21b.


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