I found this old camera in the Charleston Museum
On a recent tour of the Charleston Museum, I spotted this old camera — labeled as a Daguerreotype camera — in a display case. I’m very interested in the Daguerreotype process right now, having recently written several podcast episodes and blog posts about it. According to the tag in the display case, this old camera was manufactured in New York in 1870, which was well after the golden age of Daguerreotypes had passed, and wet plate negatives were the standard.
However, an expert has recently contacted me, claiming that the dates are wrong and that it wasn’t even really a Daguerreotype camera at all.
Maybe it’s not really a Daguerreotype camera after all
UPDATE July, 2021: I received a message from Larry Pierce, an expert in antique cameras, claiming that this was not a Daguerreotype camera at all, but rather was a copying or enlarging camera. Mr. Pierce sent a detailed message citing several reasons why this camera is incorrectly identified, including the fact that it has three compartments or “standards,” a hallmark of copy cameras. He said the date of this camera would be circa 1890s, the dry plate era — a detail supported by the inclusion of a cellulose identification label on the camera, seen in photos two and three below. Mr. Pierce said the Anthony company would have used metallic labels in the 1870s.
I truly enjoy hearing from people who can provide more context, further supporting details, or in this case — a correction.
Mr. Pierce maintains an authoritative and comprehensive website called Wooden Field View Cameras of the United States: 1870’s-1930’s. If you’re interested in historic cameras, it’s required reading.
Listen to my podcast episode about America’s great Daguerreotype artists, Southworth and Hawes
Learn more about Daguerreotypes
I own this book and it’s a very thorough exploration of the history and conservation of Daguerreotype photographs. Buy a copy on Amazon.
Thanks for reading.
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