Daguerreian Society

On this day (February 8) in the year 1889, the following article 
appeared in "The Photographic Times and American Photographer" (New 
York, Vol. XIX, No. 386; pp. 73-4):
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The Waterbury Daily Republican, of January 28th, states that August 
Brassart, who resides at 209 South Main Street, was the first person in 
the world to make the Daguerreotype photographic plates.
  It was in 1838.  Mr. Brassart was then residing in Paris and was 
employed in a large factory in the gay French capital.  Mr. Daguerre, 
who had been making some crude experiments in the line of the new 
photographic process which afterwards took his name and became 
exceedingly popular for a while, came to the proprietor of the factory 
one day and told him that he wanted to get some plates polished in a 
particular manner that was very difficult.  He made no mention of the 
purpose to which he proposed to put them.  The proprietor informed him 
that the plates could not be made, as the process was impossible.  Mr. 
Daguerre, who was a quick and nervous man, impulsively said: "Let me see 
your polisher."
  He was shown to Mr. Brassart, and, describing to him the difficult and 
delicate polish that he wished for his plates, asked him if it could be 
done.  Mr. Brassart promptly replied: "It can."  He worked at the plates 
for five or six weeks before he had the slightest intimation of their 
object, and when he was informed that they were to be used for 
photographic purposes he took it for a huge joke.  But the experiments 
made with the plate that Mr. Brassart had so elaborately polished were 
successful, and Daguerre's new process of photography passed from 
possibility to reality.
  For the seven years following 1839 Mr. Brassart served in the French 
army, that being the length of time that Frenchmen were then obliged by 
law to be engaged in military services.  When he left the army he went 
into the Daguerreotype business for himself, in Paris.
  In 1853 he was engaged to come to America for the purpose of making 
Daguerreotype plates here.  For the past nine years Mr. Brassart has had 
a photographic studio in Naugatuck.  He goes down to that place each 
morning, returning on the 4 o'clock train in the afternoon.  Physically 
he is a short and rather thickset man with a white beard.  In 
conversation he exhibits all the nervous animation characteristic of the 
typical Frenchman.

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

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