February 16, 1998
Hello fellow daguerreotypists,
Presumably by now you've seen Amistad, the latest Spielberg DeMillian epic. If you haven't, go see it. But don't go out for a refill of popcorn while Martin Van Buren is running for re-election or you'll miss what would turn out to be the turning point in American history. The 8th President was intent on a second term and, being a cutting edge type, decided to employ the latest technology--the daguerreotype--to somehow bolster his efforts. Unfortunately for Van Buren in 1840, and however splendid the prospects, the daguerreotype process was replete with areas for improvement. The exposure took so long the electorate got bored, went home, and William Henry Harrison was elected the 9th President. Spielberg obviously didn't fully appreciate the significance of those pivotal moments wherein our man Grant portrays the portraitor and daguerreotypes the president because the scene got severely truncated. So short it was that I elbowed the guy next to me and before he could say "whaddayawant" the scene was over. I'd give it 15 frames. Get the video and have your freeze frame ready. No credit either. Time to unionize.
When I last spoke to Bob Shlaer he was busy polishing plates for the coup de gras of his Carvallian masterwork. He saved the snowy, lofty and difficult peaks for last as Spring in the mountains seems a tad better inviting than the dead of Winter. Heaven forbid any accident, but I think he should take along some explanatory notes in case he is discovered frozen in the ice some eon from now.
Jerry Spagnoli was last seen in NYC roaming up and down Broadway in search of a vacant daguerreotype studio. I guess there's not as much of a calling for them as there used to be. He's raised a few eyebrows. Worse, the buildings are now sky high and the rent for a rooftop studio is stratospheric. However, he remains undaunted and expects to be back in business soon.
Phillip Murphy has purchased a vacuum desiccator and has in mind trying John Hurlock's cold mercury method of making daguerreotypes and will keep us abreast.
Also, John is putting the final polish on his research paper but if you can't wait to read all about it, give him a call.
The GEH Seminars are returning and, back by popular demand, is daguerreotypist Ken Nelson. The one day events are on May 16 and 17th and the advanced two day session September 12 and 13th. Mark your calendars.