The Daguerreian Society Talk Series – 2021

The Daguerreian Society is offering a new series of weekly online talks, on Zoom, that span the history, artistry, and technology of the daguerreotype and other 19th century photographs. We already have an impressive slate of talks by renowned experts, collection tours, and other topics as they develop. We will add new talks here as they are scheduled.

Unless otherwise noted, each week a $25.00 tax-deductible donation to The Daguerreian Society (a tax-exempt, non-profit 501(c)3 organization) will enable participation in the Zoom presentation.

On the morning of the talk each participant will receive an email with the Zoom information including a unique passcode that we ask you not to share. Access to each talk will be by screen, not by person, so you can invite others to join you in person as you watch the presentation.

We have a primer on using Zoom here.

In addition, participants will be able to watch high-quality video of the presentation, made available a few days after the presentation itself. Each video is accessed using the password sent the day of the presentation. If you are unable to attend a presentation live, you can  donate for it later, be sent the password, and watch on your own schedule. If you donate but misplace your password, contact talks@daguerreiansociety.org for a replacement. Passwords never expire, and can be used to watch a video multiple times.

Would you like to give a talk? We are soliciting proposals. Click here for more information.

If you have ideas or specific interests for presentations you'd like to see, please email talks@daguerreiansociety.org, post in our Facebook Group "The Daguerreian Society", or add to the blog on The Daguerreian Society's web site.

Upcoming Presentations

Saturday September 18, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Early South American Photography in the Ruy Souza e Silva Collection

Presented by Ruy Souza e Silva

This will be a presentation of around 30 daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and ferrotypes depicting Latin America, including a set of very early Brazilian pieces.

Among the artists on display will be L. Compte, A. Morand, C. D. Fredericks and one daguerreotype attributed to Mme. Lavenue, known as the first woman daguerreotypist in Brazil.

The presentation will include a contemporary composed panorama of Rio de Janeiro’s Palace Plaza (Largo do Paço) and also a comparison of the same image in a 1818 print drawn from nature, a 1842 daguerreotype and a 1858 print drawn from a salt paper photo.

Ruy Silva has been an amateur XIX century collector of photography since 2000. He initially focused on Brazil but later expanded to Latin American as a whole. Presently his collection comprises more than 12,000 photos, all catalogued, filed and digitized in São Paulo, Brazil.

Donate here to watch Early South American Photography in the Ruy Souza e Silva Collection live on September 18. The $25 fee for this talk is a fully tax deductible contribution to The Daguerreian Society.

Saturday September 25, 1:30 pm Eastern time: William Henry Jackson & F.V. Hayden's Photographs of North American Indians (1877): American Survey Photography in Global Circulation

Presented by Emily Voelker

Donate here to watch William Henry Jackson & F.V. Hayden's Photographs of North American Indians (1877): American Survey Photography in Global Circulationlive on September 25. The $25 fee for this talk is a fully tax deductible contribution to The Daguerreian Society.

Saturday October 9, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Preview of The Daguerreian Society's 2021 Symposium

October 15-17: The Daguerreian Society's 2021 on-line Symposium

The Daguerrian Society's Saturday talk series has been paused to prepare for our annual Symposium, which will be held on line October 15-17. Saturday talks will resume later in the year.

Please attend the Symposium -- it's going to be great!

If you can't attend the Symposium, select Symposium talks will be made available here afterwards. Or catch up on talks you missed from the long list below.

Previous Presentations

Saturday September 11, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Prince Albert: Patron of Early Photography

Presented by Helen Trompeteler

This talk discusses the integral role that Prince Albert played in the advancement of photography. Alongside Queen Victoria, Prince Albert’s support for the new medium was a cultural and social catalyst – furthering opportunities for creativity, experimentation, and the exchange of photographic knowledge.

During his lifetime, Prince Albert cultivated a collection of some 10,000 photographs by pioneering nineteenth-century photographers such as Frances Sally Day, Roger Fenton, Oscar Gustav Rejlander, Charles Thurston Thompson, and George Washington Wilson. The Royal Collection is relatively unique in that there is such strong primary material in the Royal Archives that illuminates our understanding of the development of the collection. Many of the photographs and documents presented in this talk are part of Prince Albert: His Life and Legacy (albert.rct.uk). This website will make available some 23,500 items from the Royal Collection, Royal Archives, and Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

Helen Trompeteler is a curator and writer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a committed advocate for the civic role of special collections as catalysts for contemporary dialogue and cultural exchange. Helen has eighteen years of experience leading exhibitions and partnerships for internationally significant collections, including the Royal Collection (2016-20) and the National Portrait Gallery, London (2002-16). Further roles include board member of Four Corners (2017-present), the Museums Association Transformers leadership program (2018-2019), and the Josef Breitenbach Research Fellowship at the Center for Creative Photography (2016). trompeteler.com

If you missed Prince Albert: Patron of Early Photography and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday August 14, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Chronicling the Civil War in Paint versus Photography

Presented by Sarah Kate Gillespie

Near the end of the Civil War, veteran and artist George Leo Frankenstein undertook the ambitious project to chronicle the conflict's battlefields in paint, resulting in at least 134 oil sketches of various locations. These works remain largely unknown, and most are housed in archives throughout the National Park Service. This talk explores both the potential impetus behind Frankenstein's project, including its possible connections to similar photographic projects, and why it did not meet its intended result of widespread circulation. It also examines the forces behind canon formation, asking why and how some objects become collectively known and others do not, considering the role of visual culture in the fields of art history, public history, and museology.

Sarah Kate Gillespie teaches courses on nineteenth-century visual culture and museum studies at Gettysburg College. She was previously Curator of American Art at the Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, and Assistant Professor of Art History at York College, CUNY. She is the author of Vernacular Modernism: The Photography of Doris Ulmann (2018, Georgia Museum of Art), and The Early American Daguerreotype: Cross-Currents in Art and Technology (2016, Lemelson Center/MIT Press). Her most recent essay "Aesthetic Versus the 'Mere Historic'": Civil War and Frontier Photography at MoMA" was published in the volume Modern in the Making: MoMA and the Modern Experiment (2020, Bloomsbury Press)

If you missed Chronicling the Civil War in Paint versus Photography and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday August 7, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Building the Brooklyn Bridge

Presented by Jeffrey I. Richman

Book Title: Building the Brooklyn Bridge 1869–1883: An Illustrated History, with Images in 3D by Jeffrey I. Richman, with essays by Richard Haw and Erica Wagner.

A captivating story of how a bridge of unprecedented size and technology was built over the East River, connecting, for the first time, the then independent cities of Brooklyn and New York. This awe-inspiring structure—built during an age of technological innovation—was not only a modern engineering feat of extraordinary imagination, fortitude, and skill, it also was a towering beacon of human triumph. Author Jeffrey Richman has gathered 253 superb 19th-century images, many never before published on the printed page, including engineering drawings, photographs, stereographs (seen in 3D using a viewer), woodcuts, and colored lithographs. He also specially created several anaglyphs—3D images generated from stereographs—offering the reader the sensation of being at the construction site as the towers begin to rise. A born storyteller, Richman relates how a small group of dedicated engineers and thousands of workers toiled for more than a decade to construct what was then the largest suspension bridge ever built, section by section, from the massive anchorages and elegant towers to the cables and bridge railway (operational four months after the bridge’s official opening). He reminds us how profoundly modern and groundbreaking the bridge was, in its use of new materials (steel) and pioneering construction methods. This book invites the reader to step back in time to discover why this iconic bridge—proclaimed the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ soon after its completion and a National Historic Landmark in 1964—continues to hold such a special place in the hearts of so many.

Jeffrey I. Richman has been fascinated by New York City’s history for as long as he can remember. In 2007, after thirty-three years of practicing law, he became the full-time historian at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. He is the author of three previous books, including Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery: New York’s Buried Treasure (1998). An avid collector, Richman amassed an outstanding collection of stereoview and lantern slide photographs of New York City—many of the Brooklyn Bridge under construction—which he donated to The Green-Wood Historic Fund. Attending the hundredth anniversary of the bridge’s opening in 1983 was just one milestone in his love affair with the Brooklyn Bridge.

If you missed Building the Brooklyn Bridge and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday July 31, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Dating Cabinet Cards

Presented by Gary Saretzky

This talk addresses one of the major types of 19th and early 20th century photographs, the cabinet card. Old portrait photographs are often found without a date but dates can be estimated fairly precisely based on the type of photographic print; sitter’s identity and clothing; physical characteristics of the photo, including mounting styles and mount thickness; photographer; and other factors. Methods used for dating will be covered, including how to use a micrometer to measure mounting board thickness. About 200 cabinet cards will be presented in chronological order from the 1860s to about 1940 to help attendees learn how the look of such images and their mounts evolved.

Gary D. Saretzky, Archivist, Educator, and Photographer, recently retired after more than 50 years working as an archivist, most recently as the Monmouth County Archivist (1994-2019). He taught the history of photography as an adjunct professor for 34 years at Mercer County Community College and is the author of more than 100 articles and reviews on the history of photography and photographic conservation. From 1994 to 2016, he also coordinated the Public History Internship Program for the Rutgers University History Department. Saretzky’s list of more than 3,000 19th century New Jersey photographers is available at saretzky.com, which also includes his lecture schedule, online photo book store, samples of his photographs, and other history of photography resources.

If you missed Dating Cabinet Cards and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday July 17, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Daguerreian Democracy

Presented by Michelle Smiley

In the antebellum United States, the daguerreotype emerged as the unlikely object that animated a frenzied faith in science and technology as both the truest gauge of the effectiveness of the political experiment of democracy and the supreme means by which the human condition could be transformed through our relations to nature and to one another. Between 1839 and 1862, American artisans, scientists, and activists took up the new process of photography as the raw material for both technological and political experimentation. In these years, daguerreotypes and their producers participated in debates about the nature of democracy, race, materialism, citizenship, and labor. It was a moment when, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once observed, you could hardly walk down the street without meeting someone who had a new plan for the world in his vest pocket. Such a plan, one might imagine, may also have been carefully folded away while sweetly nestled against a loved one’s daguerreotype. This talk will present in-progress research from the ongoing book project, Daguerreian Democracy, which examines the way that American innovations in daguerreotype technology intersected with antebellum politics and culture.

Michelle Smiley is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. Her work has been supported by the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Philadelphia and by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Her research on the daguerreotype collections of Louis Agassiz has been published in journals including Panorama and Afterimage, and her writing on the photographic experiments of Joseph Saxton at the U.S. Mint is forthcoming in the Terra Foundation Essays series for American art.

If you missed Daguerreian Democracy and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday July 10, 1:30 pm Eastern time: What’s So Special about Cabinet Cards?

Presented by John Rohrbach

Cabinet cards were ubiquitous over the last quarter of the nineteenth century, but they are ignored, even forgotten today. In this heavily illustrated lecture, John Rohrbach will share a few tales about how he came to recognize why cabinet cards matter, including what makes them so different from cartes de visite, and how they helped pave the way for the snapshot.

Rohrbach is Senior Curator of Photographs at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, where he has assembled dozens of exhibitions on subjects ranging from the history of color photography in America to projects by contemporary photographers Mitch Epstein, Terry Evans, and Anthony Hernandez. His books include Eliot Porter: The Color of Wildness (Aperture, 2001), Accommodating Nature: The Photographs of Frank Gohlke (Center for American Places, 2007), Reframing the New Topographics (Center for American Places, 2011), Color: American Photography Transformed (University of Texas Press, 2013), and Acting Out: Cabinet Cards and the Making of Modern Photography (University of California Press, 2020).

If you missed What’s So Special about Cabinet Cards? and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Wednesday June 30, 8:00 pm Eastern time: J. W. Newland: international daguerreotypist and showman

Presented by Dr. Elisa deCourcy and Dr. Martyn Jolly

James William Newland’s (1810 -1857) daguerreotypes are in public and private collections stretching from California to Delhi, and from Hobart to Ontario. He made and exhibited daguerretoypes in various countries, from the United States, through Central and South America, across the Pacific to New Zealand and the Australian colonies, and finally to India. Yet, so far he has appeared as little more than a footnote in various national histories of photography.

In our book, Empire, Early Photography and Spectacle (Routledge, 2021) we stitch together the breadth of Newland’s transnational career emphasising his connections with well-known photographers and subjects, and examining his mobility as part of emerging trade and communication routes. His complete story emerges as someone at the cutting-edge of early photography connecting new audiences with a diverse set of emerging media experiences focusing on, but also extending beyond, the daguerreotype.

Newland blind stamped his mats, and ink stamped and embossed his cases, with his studio name. And, because of this branding we have been able to use these now dispersed daguerreotypes — held on and off the original route of his travels — along with archival records to track his global trajectory. Through this work, we have developed relationships with a contemporary network of collectors and numerous international public collections. Our lecture will show a selection of Newland’s daguerreotypes from the United States, Australia and India. It will discuss how the unique business model of his studio and gallery warrants more attention in histories of early photography. Newland thought globally in 1845 and brokered photographic experiences intimately connected to other spectacular media. His career compels us to write histories of photography that capture that richness and dynamism.

Dr Elisa deCourcy works at the Australian National University (ANU) as an art historian with a specialisation in early photography. She currently holds an Australian Research Council (ARC) Early Career fellowship for a project titled: ‘Capturing Early Australian Photography in a Globalising World’ (2020-23). In 2018, she was a fellow at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. She has spoken and published about her research in Australia and abroad. Her work has been covered by The Guardian, The Smithsonian Magazine, and The Conversation.

Dr Martyn Jolly is an Honorary Associate Professor at the Australian National University School of Art and Design, where he was formerly Head of Photography and Media Arts. He has published widely on spirit photography, Australian photography and the magic lantern. He has received research grants for the projects Heritage in the Limelight: The Magic Lantern in Australia and the World, and Curating Photography in the Age of Photo Sharing. His photography is in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Canberra Museum and Gallery.

If you missed J .W. Newland: international daguerreotypist and showman and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday June 19, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Lewis Carroll

Presented by Diane Waggoner

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, has long been acknowledged as a significant Victorian photographer who created a rich and compelling photographic portrait of childhood. Drawing upon research from her recently published book, Lewis Carroll’s Photography and Modern Childhood, Diane Waggoner will provide an overview of Carroll’s photographic activities and changing pre-occupations during the almost twenty-five years in which he practiced the art, looking closely at his pictures of Alice Liddell and her sisters, schoolboys, and children dressing up.

Diane Waggoner is curator of photographs at the National Gallery of Art, Washington. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University. She has contributed to several publications on photography and curated numerous exhibitions, including The Pre-Raphaelite Lens: British Photography and Painting, 1848-1875 (2010) and East of the Mississippi: Nineteenth-Century American Landscape Photography (2017). In 2020, she published the monograph, Lewis Carroll's Photography and Modern Childhood (Princeton University Press).

If you missed Lewis Carroll and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday June 12, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Everything Jeremiah Gurney – my collection at Alphonse Gallery

Presented by Terry Alphonse

During a 10-year genealogy quest to discover my nationality and research my family roots, I was successful at locating over 50 different grandparent portraits and creating a family tree wall in our home. When I was done, I was hooked on antique photographs, family research and purchasing daguerreotypes.

I quickly narrowed my photo collecting to works from the New York photography studios of Jeremiah and his son Benjamin Gurney. Jeremiah was a pioneer in perfecting the daguerreotype process as one of Samuel Morse’s first students in 1840 and setting up one of the first photography studio in the world. His son Benjamin joined Jeremiah in 1858 to form the most successful photography partnership known as J. Gurney & Son.

I have amassed the largest collection of Gurney photographs and ephemera in the world and I will be sharing stories, research discoveries and highlights from the Gurney’s reign as the finest daguerreotypists in Gotham.

My collection includes 17 different photograph formats from the Gurney studios – starting in 1841 to 1888 and every image is online at www.alphonsegallery.zenfolio.com/gurney.

Terry J Alphonse has been married to Janet for 41 years and this week the last of our 6 kids have officially left the nest (39 years of raising kids!). This summer we will be welcoming grandchild 11 and 12. I live north of Detroit Michigan – far from the New York studios of Jeremiah Gurney. He works for a Tier 2 supplier in the auto industry as a manager of Environmental, Health and Safety, and Maintenance – and retirement isn’t far off. Terry is also a licensed residential builder, cabinet maker, and owned a photography studio for nearly 10 years before collecting antique photography.

If you missed Everything Jeremiah Gurney – my collection at Alphonse Gallery and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday June 5, 1:30 pm Eastern time: The Year in Review

Join us for a conversation about the 40 or so talks presented by The Daguerreian Society on the one year anniversary of the series (slides in PDF).

This video is free for everyone.

Link to video. No password is needed, but when you click on the link you will be asked your name and email address, then given access to the video.

Saturday May 8, 1:30 pm Eastern time: From Florence to Ferrez: Highlights of early photography in Brazil at the Instituto Moreira Salles collection

Presented by Sergio Burgi

Instituto Moreira Salles is a privately funded cultural institution in Brazil with a clear public mission. Inaugurated in 1992 and with cultural centers in three cities, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Poços de Caldas, the IMS photography collection and archives were formed through the incorporation, - either as acquisitions, donations or extended loans -, of over one hundred and sixty groups of images of different provenances, being either entire photographer’s archives, large 19th century photographic print collections and also smaller sets of images or individual objects. Since the first collection acquired in 1995, IMS oriented its efforts, through its then recently created Photography Department, towards structuring a broad program of activities and acquisitions oriented to the preservation, investigation and diffusion of Brazilian photography.

IMS holdings presently includes several very significant 19th and early 20th century collections, - formed by important sets of vintage photographs from distinguished authors of the time. Among this broad representation of early 19th century photography in Brazil, Instituto Moreira Salles houses one of the earliest surviving photographic objects in the Americas, an original work by Antoine Hercule Romuald Florence (1804-1879) based on his investigations on the light sensitivity of silver nitrate and gold chloride and produced in 1833, the same year that Florence also used the word photography to designate and register in his diaries his seminal experiments and results with light sensitive materials and the camera obscura carried in his studio at Vila de São Carlos, São Paulo, Brazil, where he lived.

Another very important holding is the Gilberto Ferrez Collection, an extraordinary collection of 19th century Brazilian photography from different authors compiled by the first photo-historian in Brazil and himself also the grandson of photographer Marc Ferrez (1843-1923), the most important name in Brazilian photography from the period, whose complete photographic archives, formed by hundreds of vintage prints, albums and thousands of glass plates, are an integral part of the collection.

Instituto Moreira Salles is one of the few institutions, even worldwide, to incorporate and preserve the entire archives of photographers. Together with the Marc Ferrez archives, IMS also holds the complete archives of twenty-five other important names in Brazilian photography, as Geraldo de Barros, José Medeiros, Thomaz Farkas, Marcel Gautherot, Hildegard Rosenthal, Madalena Schwartz, Maureen Bissiliat, Mario Cravo Neto and Fernando Lemos, among others, most of these archives of photographers active during the mid and second half of the 20th century, totalizing together approximately 1.2 million images, representing almost half of the institution’s entire holdings. In 2016 IMS also acquired the photojournalism archives from Diarios Associados in Rio de Janeiro, the largest mid 20th century media group in the country, bringing the institute’s photography collection and archives presently to a total of about 2.4 million images. Since 2011, IMS has also constituted a new Contemporary Photography Department. This very broad representation of Brazilian photography at IMS is therefore nowadays an important source for the investigation of the role of imagery and image making in the arts and culture in Brazil throughout almost all the history of the nation, since its independence from Portugal in 1822 to the present day.

Sergio Burgi graduated in Social Sciences from the University of São Paulo in 1981, the same year that he joined the Master's Course in Photographic Conservation/Museum Studies at the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences / Rochester Institute of Technology (USA), an advanced program established in collaboration with the George Eastman Museum and the Visual Studies Workshop, where he obtained in 1984 the Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Associate in Photographic Science degrees from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He was coordinator of the Photographic Conservation and Preservation Center of the National Arts Foundation / FUNARTE between 1984 and 1991. Since 1999 he coordinates the photography department of Instituto Moreira Salles (IMS), the main institution dedicated to the storage and preservation of photographic collections in Brazil. As a curator, he organized several exhibitions on Brazilian photography from the 19th and 20th centuries, being the author of significant books and catalogs on photography in Brazil.

If you missed From Florence to Ferrez: Highlights of early photography in Brazil at the Instituto Moreira Salles collection and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday May 1, 1:30 pm Eastern time: The Architect's Archive: Early Photography from Two Collections

Presented by David Hanlon

Russell Sturgis (1836-1909) and Richard Morris Hunt (1827-1895) were among the most important of the America’s Gilded Age architects, and collected and utilized photographic prints to satisfy their professional and personal interests. Beginning in the 1850s, both recognized the medium as an effective way to retain information about a variety of architectural styles seen in Europe and in the ancient world, and over a period of several decades sought out images being created by noted photographers. When Sturgis’ career became more focused on architectural criticism and history, he would utilize many pieces from his collection to illustrate his writings in both journals and books.

This discussion will highlight the kind of images that both men collected, looking at how photographers such as Edouard Baldus, Charles Marville, Robert Macpherson, Charles Clifford and the Bisson frères built portfolios early in their career that catered to the needs of architects and historians. Family and personal interests also found their way into the types of photographs that Hunt and Sturgis acquired, providing us with a more enhanced understanding of the variance, availability, and uses of photography during the second half of the nineteenth century. Both men’s collections today still hold thousands of early photographic prints, a truly unexplored resource worthy of further consideration.

David Hanlon is an educator, historian, and photographic artist based in St. Louis, MO. He has had essays about aspects of early photography published in museum catalogs and in international journals, and is the author of the book Illuminating Shadows: The Calotype in Nineteenth-Century America (2013). In the 1990s he catalogued and recorded the 16,000 photographic print collection assembled by Russell Sturgis (1836-1909), now at Washington University in St. Louis, and over the past several years has been undertaking similar work with the early images in the Richard Morris Hunt Collection, now in the Library of Congress.

If you missed The Architect's Archive: Early Photography from Two Collections and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday April 24, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Dating Cartes de Visite

Presented by Gary Saretzky

This talk addresses one of the major types of 19th and early 20th century photographs, the carte-de-visite (cdv). Old portrait photographs are often found without a date but dates can be estimated fairly precisely based on the type of photographic print; sitter’s identity and clothing; physical characteristics of the photo, including mounting styles and mount thickness; photographer; and other factors. Methods used for dating will be covered, including how to use a micrometer to measure mounting board thickness. About 150 CDVs will be presented in chronological order from about 1854 to 1909 to help attendees learn how the look of such images and their mounts evolved.

Gary D. Saretzky, Archivist, Educator, and Photographer, recently retired after more than 50 years working as an archivist, most recently as the Monmouth County Archivist (1994-2019). He taught the history of photography as an adjunct professor for 34 years at Mercer County Community College and is the author of more than 100 articles and reviews on the history of photography and photographic conservation. From 1994 to 2016, he also coordinated the Public History Internship Program for the Rutgers University History Department. Saretzky’s list of more than 3,000 19th century New Jersey photographers is available at saretzky.com, which also includes his lecture schedule, online photo book store, samples of his photographs, and other history of photography resources.

If you missed Dating Cartes de Visite and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday April 17, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Matthew Isenberg's 'A Closer Look'

Introduced by Greg French

Lawyers have a saying that “The Devil’s in the Details.” Meaning — be careful — because a tiny slip-up can come back to bite you.

But the original saying was something else: “God is in the Details.” That means… when you really get right down to something,…. when you burrow into it and root around and really learn as much as you can… you will get to the truth about it.

And so it is with daguerreotypes. Nothing convinced the people who viewed the very first photographs of their truthfulness more than the miracle of their tiny, perfect, details. Take a magnifying lens and you can see far into the distance of a daguerreotype scene.

Or do what the late Matthew Isenburg did, and capture microscopic details of his unsurpassed collection of Gold Rush daguerreotypes… and you can see far into the past… immersing your audience in the astonishing time machine quality of actually being present at a key moment in history.

Matthew was a co-founder of The Daguerreian Society, and our President for many years. His symposium talk showing just how much you can see in daguerreotypes…. called “A Closer Look”… was one of the most electrifying presentations ever witnessed by members of The Daguerreian Society.

If you missed Matthew Isenberg's 'A Closer Look' and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password. You can donate any amount you wish to see this talk.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday April 10, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Horology in Photography

Presented by Robert Frishman

Since the earliest days of photography, clocks and watches have appeared in images for many reasons. Sometimes, as in 700 years of fine-art paintings that show clocks and watches, they are present for symbolic and metaphorical purposes — mortality, time’s passage, affluence, modernity, technological sophistication, etc. Other times they form a key element in a humorous or descriptive narrative offered in the picture, or are ‘occupational’ views of craftsmen. And from another angle, timepieces have been an important component of the photographic process, determining critical exposure and development times to ensure acceptable finished products. Using dozens of photographic images to illustrate these issues, Bob Frishman will present an in-depth program on the many links between horology — the science of timekeeping — and photography.

 

During the past forty years, Bob Frishman has established a reputation as one of America’s leading practitioners and scholars of horology. He has repaired and restored more than 7,000 antique clocks and watches, published more than 100 articles and reviews on the history, technology, and cultural importance of mechanical timekeeping, and has lectured on the subject to more than 100 audiences.

As Chairman of the Time Symposium Committee of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors (NAWCC), Bob created and organized groundbreaking horological conferences at the Winterthur Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Henry Ford Museum. His 2017 “Horology in Art” symposium, hosted at the Boston museum, was the first international conference on the subject; details on its topics and eminent speakers are at www.horologyinart.com. Bob is an NAWCC Fellow and a Freeman of The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, a London guild founded in 1631. More information about him is at www.bell-time.com.

If you missed Horology in Photography and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday March 27, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Early Latin American Photography at World's Fairs: The Philadelphia 1876 Exposition

Presented by Alejandra Uslenghi

World’s Fairs and photography have been connected since the inaugural exhibition in London at the Crystal Palace in 1851, where daguerreotype cameras, equipment and photographic images were not only displayed but also had a profound impact on its contemporary illustration.

The first American World’s Fair of 1876 in Philadelphia was decisive in its affirmation of the practice and its varied scope in the country commissioning the creation of the Centennial Photography Co. for its survey and devoting a special hall to the exhibition of work by photographic studios, both American and foreign.

This talk explores the role of early photographic displays by Latin American countries — Argentina, Brazil and Mexico— in their national pavilions and at the photographic hall. We will examine how territorial surveys, portraits of political and social elites, landscape vistas, albums of national customs and types were carefully employed in their crafting of a modern nation image within this global stage.

Alejandra Uslenghi is Associate Professor in Spanish & Portuguese and Comparative Literary Studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of Latin America at Fin-de-siecle Universal Exhibitions. Modern Cultures of Visuality (Palgrave, 2007) and specializes on modern Latin American visual culture.

If you missed Early Latin American Photography at World's Fairs: The Philadelpha 1876 Exposition and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday March 20, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Patent Politics: Photography in the Patent Office

Presented by Mazie M. Harris

American photography and United States patent law were developed in tandem. This talk will focus on the photographs and patent examinations produced by Titian Ramsay Peale II. The youngest son of artist and entrepreneur Charles Willson Peale, Titian Peale was examiner in the Fine Arts Division of the United States Patent Office from 1848 to 1872, and a member of one of the earliest amateur photographic societies in the United States. In his professional life, Peale was charged with policing the boundaries of intellectual property that he otherwise breached by sharing ideas and images with fellow amateurs. Special attention will be paid to the controversial patents awarded to James A. Cutting during Peale’s tenure in the Patent Office.

Mazie M. Harris is an assistant curator in the J. Paul Getty Museum Department of Photographs. She holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from Brown University. Her research has been supported by the Terra Foundation, Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Antiquarian Society, Winterthur Library, National Portrait Gallery, New York Public Library, and Library of Congress. She is the author of Paper Promises: Early American Photography, a publication which accompanied a Spring 2018 exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

If you missed Patent Politics: Photography in the Patent Office and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday March 13, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Multiplying the Unique: Printing Daguerreotypes in the 19th Century

Presented by Martin Jürgens

A rarely discussed aspect of the first two decades of photography is the use of daguerreotype plates as the basis for creating multiple copies of an image. Consisting of a metal plate supporting a physical image on its surface, the daguerreotype is – in principle – similar to traditional intaglio and relief printing plates, of which the surface topography determines what the printed image will look like. This fundamental likeness was quickly recognized by early photographic pioneers, and in the 1840s and 50s, all over Europe (and possibly even in the USA) daguerreotypes were being etched in acid to create intaglio plates for printing.

Alphonse Poitevin developed yet other methods of printing daguerreotypes, involving image transfer and gelatin reliefs. Finally, the invention of electrotyping, at the same time as the daguerreotype, enabled the production of direct copies of daguerreotypes in copper. These techniques breach the common understanding of the daguerreotype as a unique object, They mark decisive moments in photography’s early role in printing and therefore deserve both in-depth art-historical as well as art-technological study.

Martin Jürgens has an MS from Rochester Institute of Technology and an MA in Conservation from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. He is currently Photographs Conservator at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His research, publishing and teaching have covered historic and contemporary photography and digital printing. His book “The Digital Print” was published by the Getty Conservation Institute in 2009.

If you missed Multiplying the Unique: Printing Daguerreotypes in the 19th Century and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday March 6, 1:30 pm Eastern time: The Civil War: Battle of the Images

Panel discussion with Kevin CranbergWes Cowan, and Mike Medhurst

Witness the US Civil War through the treasured favorite images of three top experts — collector Kevin Canberg, auctioneer/historian Wes Cowan, and noted collector/dealer Mike Medhurst.

Discover a view of the nation-shaping conflict that’s more personal, more intimate, and often more spirited than the widely circulated photographs of Brady, Gardner, and Barnard.

See spectacular ambrotypes, tintypes, CDVs and other images that allow a few privileged private collectors to own a unique connection to the Civil War — pieces of history that can be held in the palm of the hand.

Register for this LIVE online Saturday talk and you’ll be amazed by these seldom-seen images — and hear for yourself how top collectors and dealers select and evaluate the rarest of the rare in Civil War photography.

If you missed The Civil War: Battle of the Images and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday February 27, 1:30 pm Eastern time: John Wood: United States Capitol Photographer (1856-1864)

Presented by Adrienne Lundgren

In May of 1856, John Wood became the United States’ first federal government photographer.  Assigned to photograph the building of the Capitol Extension and Dome, Wood was uniquely positioned to capture not only the progress of the construction but also key events on its grounds, including two presidential inaugurations, James Buchanan in 1857 and Abraham Lincoln in 1861.  Wood’s images were often distributed as a means to garner political and financial support for the Capitol building project.  In keeping with their use, Wood framed his works as both documentary and as a means of capturing the Emersonian ideals of America as a place of, “beginnings, of projects, of designs and expectations.”

Adrienne Lundgren, Senior Photograph Conservator at the Library of Congress, will be discussing this important and virtually unknown figure in American photography, covering Wood’s Capitol images and his time in the Civil War with the Army of the Potomac.

  • Top: John Wood, The Inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, March 4, 1861, salted paper print, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.
  • Bottom: John Wood, The Capitol as a barrack, salted paper print, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

Adrienne Lundgren is a Senior Photograph Conservator in the Library of Congress Conservation Division. She earned her Master of Science in Art Conservation from the University of Delaware and has published on variety of subjects relating to the technical history of photography. Her publications include the techniques used by Pictorialist photographer Clarence H. White, the history of glycerine in the printing of platinum and palladium photographs, and the historic use of coatings applied to daguerreotypes. In 2012, She was a recipient of the John W. Kluge Staff Fellowship to study the Library’s collection of prints by F. Holland Day. Her current work is on John Wood, the Amateur Photographic Exchange Club, and photographer John Plumbe Jr.

If you missed John Wood and his Photographs at the US Capital and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday February 13, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Black Lives in Focus: Selections from the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection of African American History

Presented by Ross Kelbaugh

Background: Ross J. Kelbaugh began collecting Civil War photographs in the 1960s and his focus broadened when he began collecting daguerreotypes in 1971. He is a charter member of the Daguerreian Society and contributor to The Daguerreian Annual. He was the guest curator and lecturer for the “Securing the Shadows: The Daguerreotype in Maryland” exhibit for the 2012 Daguerreian Symposium at the Maryland Historical Society. He holds a BA from the University of Maryland and MLA from Johns Hopkins University. His publications include The Directory of Maryland Photographers: 1839-1900, Introduction to Civil War Photographs, Introduction to African American Photographs: 1840-1950, and Maryland’s Civil War Photographs: The Sesquicentennial Collection in 2012. He also guest curated the exhibition and wrote the catalogue for the Maryland Historical Society’s 2006 landmark exhibit “The Civil War in Maryland: An Exhibit of Rare Photographs.” For the last ten years he has served as an on-air appraiser for Maryland Public Television’s “Chesapeake Collectibles.” Though retired from teaching American history, he continues as an active collector and researcher today while working on a new book about The Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection of African American History.

A major focus of his collecting over the last 45 years has been African American photographs. Living in Maryland, much of the collection has a local connection as well creating a resource that is a visual history of the African American experience spanning from the daguerreian era into the twentieth century. Some of the collection are illustrated in my landmark book Introduction to African American Photographs: 1845-1950, the first book to ever focus on the collection and research of African American photographs. Today the collection now numbers over 500 photographs, prints, documents, books, and other three-dimensional objects. Several images originally from the collection now reside in the Library of Congress and National Museum of African American History and Culture. An effort has currently been undertaken for the placement of The Kelbaugh Collection in a major institution.

Program Summary: This program will present a selection of African American daguerreotypes, cartes de visite, melainotypes, stereoviews and cabinet cards from the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection assembled over 45 years spanning from the daguerreian era through the Civil War. The collection, which includes the largest number of portraits of enslaved Marylanders, will focus on the collecting and the researching of the stories behind many of the African Americans recorded in these images. Some of these are featured in his new book series Black Lives in Focus: Selections from the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection. A review of some of the resources used to research images will also be discussed. Several recent discoveries and a collecting opportunity will also be revealed publicly for the first time.

If you missed Black Lives in Focus: Selections from the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection of African American History and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday February 6, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Captain Prickitt's Photo Album

Presented by Shayne Davidson

Identified photographs of African-American soldiers from the Civil War are incredibly rare. Captain William A. Prickitt, a New Jersey-born white officer in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) owned miniature album containing gem tintype photos of 17 men under his command during the war.

The captain treasured the album and passed it down to his descendants. Decades after his death in 1929, his great granddaughter inherited it and carefully stored it away in a box in her kitchen pantry. She shared the photos with me while I was working on a family tree of her family.

The photographer’s identity is unknown, but in order to preserve the men’s identities for posterity, Captain Prickitt wrote each man’s name on the paper mat that held each photo. I was fascinated by the photos and realized that having the name provided a unique opportunity to find out more about the men.

At first I was just curious, but as I discovered more details I decided to create a family tree for each man. Next I embarked on creating a life-sized, colored pencil portrait of each man, using his tiny photograph as a starting point.

Over a six-month period I completed 17 life-sized portraits: one for every man in the album. Then I wrote a brief biography, based on my genealogical research, to accompany the portrait.

Captain Prickitt’s descendants donated the album to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016, where it is currently on display.

The talk focuses on who the men were and the documents I used to research their lives.

Shayne Davidson is an author, artist, genealogist and vintage photography collector. Her exhibit of portraits and bios of the men in Captain Prickitt’s album, titled Seventeen Men, opens February 12, 2021 at the Lewes Historical Society in Lewes, Delaware.

If you missed Captain Prickitt's Photo Album and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday January 30th, 1:30 pm Eastern time: The History of Dolls in 19th Century Images

Presented by Jennifer Craft-Hurst

Jennifer Craft-Hurst uses images from her own collection of early photography, to give a brief history of dolls in the 19th Century. From early dolls of papier mache and wax to the finest bisque dolls in the Golden Age of doll making this presentation follows the growth of the beloved child's toy and photographer's studio prop to the loveliest form of art in competition at the Universal Expositions.

Jennifer Craft-Hurst, though relatively new to early photography, has been collecting dolls for over 40 years. The daughter of antiques collectors, Jennifer was that rare 8 year old who begged for the Madame Alexander doll, then kept her mint-in-box, wanting to ensure she never lost her value. After college, Jennifer moved to Paris, where she spent her weekends at the Marches aux Puces learning all she could about the French bisque, Golden Age dolls she dreamed of owning.

Jennifer has worked in radio and television advertising for over 20 years. She co-wrote a book on French Art Glass, has written numerous articles for "Antique Doll Collector" and "Doll News" magazines, and has been a featured speaker at the United Federation of Doll Clubs Annual Convention. After realizing that daguerreotypes and ambrotypes were easier to fit in a cabinet, Jennifer expanded her collecting interests into the world of early photography.

If you missed The History of Dolls in 19th Century Images and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday January 23th, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Minnehaha Falls: A 19th Century History in Images

Presented by Karen E. Cooper

Throughout the 19th century, a pretty little waterfall was the most famous place in Minnesota, that northern state in the far reaches of the Great Northwest. On the frontier and as the frontier moved west, Minnehaha Falls was as famous as Niagara. Visitors came by the tens of thousands to see this picturesque and perfect gem of a waterfall. Its fame only increased when Longfellow included this place in his poem “The Song of Hiawatha.”

But it was photography that preserved that fame and the public’s reverence for Minnehaha. To tell the early photographic history of Minnehaha Falls is to weave together the stories of the great panoramas of the Mississippi; the influence of Longfellow, America’s favorite poet; daguerreians Alexander Hesler and Joel Whitney; and the frontier photographers who followed in their footsteps.

Karen E. Cooper has followed an undoubtedly-familiar path from accumulator to collector to researcher to expert. Her collection of Minnehaha Falls images is unsurpassed. In studying the earliest images of the Falls, she has added to the biographies of early photographers. She has also discovered the lost history of Minnehaha Falls, wherein rowdy behavior and criminal hijinks threatened to overrun the public’s love for this place. Her book “When Minnehaha Flowed with Whiskey” is scheduled for Spring 2022 by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Karen has also written for Minneapolis newspapers, writing photo-histories, house histories, and restaurant reviews. Besides working as a photo-historian, Karen’s other passion is in philanthropy and working with non-profits to raise money.

If you missed Minnehaha Falls: A 19th Century History in Images and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday January 16th, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Greg French's Collection of Early African American Photography

Presented by Greg French

Greg will provide an overview of his collection of African American photography, with an emphasis on the earlier material, especially the daguerreotype, ambrotype and carte de visite formats. He’ll give insight into his choices and discuss the background and significance of some of the images.

Greg French began collecting antique photography including images of African Americans in 1981. In 1999, Mr. French was the biggest private lender to the groundbreaking PBS documentary ‘Africans in America.” In 2003 in conjunction with the Daguerreian Society Symposium he curated an exhibition from his collection entitled “Positive Images: Early African American Photographs” at Iocovozzi Fine Art in Savannah Georgia, with the assistance of Mark Johnson. Greg was co-founder of the multi-media project ‘Mirror Of Race’ with Gregory Fried and Derek Burrows. Recently Mr. French assembled a panel on African American images for the 2020 Daguerreian Society Symposium. He has lent images to many books, documentaries and exhibitions.

If you missed Greg French's Collection of Early African American Photography and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).

Saturday January 9th, 1:30 pm Eastern time: Exploring the 1851 NGC 5-Plate Daguerreotype Panorama of San Francisco

Presented by Nick Wright

Join Nick Wright on a journey back in time to experience ultra-high resolution views of the Gold Rush San Francisco with wide panoramic views over the City. Mr. Wright has painstakingly recreated the early panorama by assembling the 1851 NGC multi-plate daguerreotypes of the nascent city as it developed. The location of the NGC panorama will be explored and the center plate recreated. We will also see the actual store ships in the Yerba Buena Cove before they were destroyed by fire in 1851. This is an amazing chance to see old San Francisco like never before.

Nick Wright is the founder of the History Alliance with 850,000 members including San Francisco History, US History. His specialty is in early San Francisco panoramic photography by Watkins, Muybridge, and W. H. Jackson etc.

If you missed Exploring the 1851 NGC 5-Plate Daguerreotype Panorama of San Francisco and would like to watch it on video, you can donate here and will be sent the password.

Link to video (you will need to supply the password for the presentation; open the link in a new window to watch the video full screen).


Presentations from 2020, including those from The Daguerreian Society's 2020 Symposium, are available here.


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