Daguerreian Society

On this day (May 21) in the year 1840, Albert Sand Southworth took pen 
in hand and wrote the following letter to his sister Nancy:
- - - - - - -

                                          Cabotville, May 21, 1840
My dear Sister,

   My mind has been in one constant scene of agitation and study.  I 
told Brother S. in a letter written on board a steamboat, that you 
should know what I went to New York for.
   You have read of the daguerreotype, an apparatus for taking views of 
buildings, streets, yards, and so forth.  I had an invitation to join 
Mr. Pennell one of my old roommates in old Phillips, in getting one, 
and partly to gratify my curiosity, and partly with the hope of making 
it profitable, I met Mr. Pennell in New York and purchased one.  I 
cannot in a letter describe all the wonders of this apparatus.  Suffice 
it to say, that I can now make a perfect picture in one hour's time, 
that would take a painter weeks to draw.  The picture is represented in 
light and shade, nicer so far than any steel engraving you ever saw.  
The colors of objects are not given, but the picture is shown in light 
and shade.
   We have improved it much, since we commenced, so much, that we have 
been highly complemented by good judges.  We have already sent some 
specimens to Europe.  Mr. Ames showed them in New York, and they were 
pronounced superior to any made there.  We doubt not but that in less 
than a month, we shall be able to take portraits and miniatures to 
perfection.  The whole operation is conducted upon Philosophical 
Chemical and Mathematical principles.
   Mr. Pennell is now here, and it is not impossible that I may visit 
home this season in company with him.  We think of going to Hanover 
with our apparatus, and if so, I shall go home to stay one night.  You 
shall hear more of this hereafter. . . .[stops]

(This text was excerpted from an original manuscript and copied by a 
later hand. Transcript in the collection of the George Eastman House.)
Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

Return to: DagNews 1998

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