Daguerreotype Camera, ca. 1850
Appraised Value: $8,000 - $10,000 (2013)
IMAGE: 1 of 0
Appraisal Video: (2:43)
C. Wesley Cowan
Arms & Militaria, Books & Manuscripts, Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Photographs
Cowan's Auctions, Inc.
GUEST: The family inherited a house back in the mid-'90s, and it was just full of old stuff that hadn't been touched in years. And in the one closet, built into the wall was a cardboard box, and this and a bunch of other loose stuff was in the box. We went to a camera shop a few months ago and I was telling the people there that, "Oh, I have a camera sort of like these ones they have on display," and they go, "Do you?" And so we went back to the house and we brought it up, and they said, "You need to be on the Roadshow." And so here I am.
APPRAISER: Well, I'm glad that you're here, and I'm glad that you brought this camera in. This is a very, very rare camera.
GUEST: You're kidding me. Oh, you gave me goosebumps.
APPRAISER: I'm not kidding you.
GUEST: Good, I'm glad that you're getting goose bumps.
APPRAISER: This is a Louis Daguerreotype camera. The Daguerrotype was invented in France in 1839, and the first cameras were made in Europe, and then Americans started catching on. And this probably dates from about 1850. This is a neat thing, because there's a knob here that we can actually use to slide the camera. And this bellows is important, because this was a development that allowed the photographer to focus with. The Daguerreotypist would put a plate holder in here that had a copper plate coated in silver that had been sensitized with mercury and iodine to make it light sensitive. They would take it out from the darkroom, bring it out to the sitter, put it in here. The photographer would then say, "Hold still." He would take the lens cap off, he would hold a pocket watch, and he would count the seconds off. And he would say, "Okay, the exposure's complete. "I'll put the lens cap back on, I'll pull the plate out and take it into the darkroom to develop it." What's missing here is the plate holder, and that does affect the value. The construction of this is wood with this great rosewood veneer. The lens is made by a maker named Darlot, D-A-R-L-O-T, in Paris. He was a very, very well known Daguerrian lens maker.
GUEST: Oh my, okay.
APPRAISER: Now, the last time that one of these sold, it brought in excess of $10,000.
GUEST: You're kidding me! Oh, no! (laughing)
APPRAISER: It's got a little bit... a few chips of veneer that are gone here. The bellows have got some holes in them. It's missing the plate holder. So if you were thinking about a good auction estimate, $8,000 to maybe $10,000 is a good estimate for this particular camera.
GUEST: That's amazing.
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