Le Daguerreotype
Le Daguerreotype
Le Daguerreotype
First Detailed, Publically printed description of Daguerre's photographic process

Le Daguerreotype

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 Ex-library (Harvard Chemical Library), properly withdrawn, with library bookplate on front pastedown endpaper and one stamp.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. Le Daguerreotype article (pp 250-267) plus related content (see below) is offered in Vol. IX of Comptes Rendus Des Seances De L'Academie Des Sciences... July to December 1839. Very Good. Boards. [18602]


Horblit (100 Books Famous in Science, #21b) calls "Le Daguerreotype" the "First disclosure of Daguerre's process." While Arago made a brief announcement about Daguerre's process on January 7, 1839 to establish precedence, the paper offered here, published in August, was the first detailed, publically printed description of Daguerre's historic photographic process.

Arago presented the paper when Daguerre begged him to represent him due to a very sore throat and his own shyness. It spawned tremendous interest and a wave of dynamic experimentation, both amateur and scientific. The very next issue 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.

Arago reads again for Daguerre on Sept 30th: "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. Other letters include one 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

Many people collect Daguerre's "Historique et Description des Procedes du Daguerreotype" which does a great job of presenting Daguerre's process as a separate work. We see great value however in also collecting both the initial scientific discussion as well as the scientific back and forth, new experimentation, and claims/counter claims six months of journal output reveals. It puts the discovery in the context of what else was happening in the scientific community at the time, who else had been quietly working on similar things in the wings, and how the initial publication sparked so many imaginations.

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

Price: $3,750.00