Zooming in to Daguerreotypes

Wired Magazine has a fascinating article about the conservation of a famous set of daguerreotypes.  In 1848 Charles Fontayne and William Porter created a “panorama” (actually eight separate plates) of the Cincinnati waterfront.  Because the plates were so big (6.5×8.5″) the detail in each is astonishing.

The plates had acquired a lot of dirt and damage over the years so conservators at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, did a painstaking job of restoration and cleaning.  The article includes a step by step description of how daguerreotypes are made and how they were restored.  But best of all are the high-quality reproductions of the daguerreotypes.  And they include one with a 10x  magnification function – you can practically zoom in to see individual faces!  They are rare and valuable documentation of a day in an American city over 150 years ago.

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