Monday, May 14, 2007

Original Daguerreotype for Sale

The first camera ever sold
1839 "Daguerreotype" by the Paris manufacturer Susse Frères

Oldest & most expensive camera of all time.
Up for auction on May 26th 2007, in Vienna, Austria. Certainly the most spectacular lot of the coming auction is a "Daguerreotype" by the Paris manufacturer Susse Frères. This very recently discovered camera throws new light on the history of photography: the attic find that is up for auction proved to be an example of a camera from September of 1839. up till now it had been thought to be a myth. In the meantime numerous experts attest it very likely might be the oldest commercially-produced camera in the world.

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (18 November 1787 – 10 July 1851) was the French artist and chemist who is recognized for his invention of the daguerreotype process of photography.

The Daguerreotype was the first successful photographic process, the discovery being announced on 7 January 1839. The process consisted of:
- Exposing copper plates to iodine, the fumes forming light-sensitive silver iodide. The plate would have to be used within an hour.
- Exposing to light - between 10 and 20 minutes, depending upon the light available.
- Developing the plate over mercury heated to 75 degrees Centigrade. This caused the mercury to amalgamate with the silver.
- Fixing the image in a warm solution of common salt (later sodium sulphite was used.
- Rinsing the plate in hot distilled water.

A site dedicated exclusively to Daguerre is
Interestingly enough, there are enthusiasts who still produce dagerreotypes. See here.

The origins of commercial photography, previously no camera by this manufacturer was known to even exist!

Up till the present "The Daguerreotype" produced (also in 1839) by Daguerre’ s brother-in-law, Giroux had been regarded as the origins of commercial photography. There are around ten of these in existence in various large museums. But even earlier, on the 5th September 1839, a small Susse Frères advertisement appeared in the French newspaper “La Quotidienne” though except for a few instructions (e.g. in the George Eastman House in Rochester) no camera by this manufacturer was known to exist. This world sensation is now being exhibited in WestLicht and bids will be invited at the commencement of the 11th Photographica Auction on May 26, 2007 at the symbolic starting price of 100,000 Euros. Experts assume that during the course of the auction it will become not only the oldest but the most expensive camera of all time. The camera with the original lens by Chevallier is in wonderful original condition and has never been restored or modified.


Original Daguerreotype


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