The Daguerreian Society

Two items today:
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On this day (February 20) in the year 1840, the following item appeared 
in "The Herald" (Newburyport, Massachusetts):

  NEWBURYPORT LYCEUM.  The lecture of Dr Perkins, before this 
institution on Friday evening last, was highly satisfactory to a crowded 
auditory.  The subject--the Daguerreotype, or Solar Painting--was one 
which could not fail, from its novelty, to interest the auditory.  That 
any process could be contrived, which would take an accurate 
representation of an object by the operation of light alone, seems to be 
perfectly miraculous.  Of the fact, however, there can be no doubt.  We 
have seen the pictures of Dr Perkins, and can bear testimony to the 
fidelity of the representation.  He exhibited several on the evening of 
the lecture, and one of them may now be seen at Mr Gray's.
  We are not usually in the habit of taking public notice of Lyceum 
lectures, but the persevering industry by which Dr Perkins has succeeded 
in obtaining photographic delineations, and that by an easier and more 
expeditious mode than that of the original invention, in our opinion 
deserves notice, and we hope that our friends in the neighboring towns 
may have an opportunity of seeing and hearing his lecture.

(a note: a number of Perkins views are still in existence, one of them 
is included in the exhibtion catalogue for "Secrets of the Dark Chamber" 
(Washington, D.C.: Smithsonsian Institutional Press, 1995; page 53)
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and an item from the 1850 "Boston Evening Transcript"

  MR PLUMBE IN CALIFORNIA.  We have a letter from Mr Plumbe, the 
gentleman who originated in Iowa, many years since, prior to Whitney and 
others, the plan of a Pacific railroad.  The letter is dated Sacramento 
City, Nov 26th, and in it Mr Plumbe says:  "I have just arrived at this 
city, after having crossed our continent, via the South Pass, with the 
view of satisfying myself, from personal observation, whether the 
project I have so long agitated of a railroad from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific, was really entitled to the attention of the nation, which I 
have ever believed myself warranted in claiming for it.  As the result 
of my examination, it affords me the greatest pleasure to have it in my 
power to report that the importance of the work, as well as the facility 
for its construction are, in my estimation, much greater than I had 
supposed, before seeing for myself."

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(Note: We can only conjecture that Plumbe took along to California the 
daguerreotype views that he had proudly exhibited in the East; the views 
that fell into obscurity until purchased by Mike Kessler and Larry 
Shirer in 1971.  Mike Kessler's account of finding the Plumbe 
daguerreotypes is given in his article "Once In A Lifetime!"; in "The 
Photographist - Journal of the Wetern Photographic Collectors 
Association"; No. 99; Fall 1993.)
Posted for your enjoyment.      Gary W. Ewer       

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