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Polishing the Daguerreotype Plate.—I shall endeavor to present to the reader the process I have found productive of good and satisfactory results, presenting the same in a clear and concise manner, so that any one, by following the various manipulations given, will be enabled to succeed.
American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book by S. Humphrey
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If there is any one part of the process in Daguerreotype in which operators fail more than all others, it is in not properly preparing the plate. It has truly been said that it would take a volume to describe all the methods that have been suggested for polishing the plate.
I shall confine myself to the following description, which has been successfully practised, also most generally adopted by our operators, and I believe equal, if not superior to any other method, yet at the same time it is not of so much importance what particular method is employed, so that it be thoroughly and skillfully carried out.
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There is a general tendency with beginners to slight this operation; hence the necessity of adopting a system which precludes the possibility of doing so. During many years’ study and practice in the art, I have tried numerous methods and substances for the better accomplishment of the end in view, and have finally settled upon the following.
As being (so far as experience allows me to Judge) the modus operandi, best suited to all circumstances; under no condition would I approve of a method less rigorous or precise. The operator being provided with a bottle of finely prepared rotten stone, cover the mouth of the bottle with a piece of thick paper.
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This perforated with a pin so that the rotten stone can be dusted on the plate. Fasten the plate on the holder, take the rotten stone (Becker’s can always be depended upon), and dust on lightly until the surface is freely covered; now drop on the plate’s surface a few drops of an alcoholic solution.
This solution is composed of equal parts of alcohol and water, for the summer, and in winter three parts alcohol to one of water; a few drops of potassa solution may be added, and is known to have a decided effect upon the plate. Take a patch of Canton flannel; in order to prevent the moisture from the hand it should have a thick, firm texture.
With this rub the plate in circles across, then back covering one-half of the former row of circles in each crossing until you have gone over the plate and back to the point of beginning, occupying at least half a minute in the operation, for a small plate, and so in proportion for the other sizes. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book
Care should be observed to keep the patch wet with the alcoholic solution forming a paste on the surface of the plate; the motion of the hand should be brisk and free, not hurried, and the pressure about equal to that of a pound weight. When the cotton is disposed to adhere to the plate, and slip from under the finger.
Spread the fore and middle fingers a little apart, then pressing down, bring them together in such a manner as to form a fold in the cloth between them, by which means you will hold it perfectly secure. Avoid wetting the fingers, and should they perspire, wipe them often.
As the moisture penetrating the cotton and coming in contact with the plate, would cause streaks it would be difficult to remove. I will here remark that many operators use much more cotton flannel than there is need of. I have found in my experience that a single patch, about one and half inch square. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book
Will be better for cleaning a number of plates than a new piece for every plate. This is the case for the wet, and for the dryrubbing two or three pieces will be found to answer. Thus with four or five cloths a dozen plates may be prepared. Some operators use prepared cotton, and think it more convenient than the flannel.
This may be had prepared free from seeds and in a very perfect state, if wished. In going over the plate, great care should be observed, in touching its surface as equally as possible. The greatest care should be taken neither to touch the plate with the fingers, nor that part of the cotton flannel which is to come in contact with its surface.
Take a clean piece of flannel by one corner, snap it smartly to free it from dust and loose fibres, lay it face-side upward, dust on a little fine rotten stone; with this, polish around, or across, or in circles, lightly and briskly, passing gradually over the whole surface of the plate, as was done before with the wet. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book
The plate should now exhibit a bright, clear, uniform surface, with a strong metallic lustre, perfectly free from any appearance of film; if not, the last polished should be continued until the effect is obtained, and when once obtained, the plate is ready for buffing. Buffing the Plate.
There are a variety of ways and means employed in this part of the operation. Some choose wheels, and others prefer the ordinary hand-buff. I have been unable to detect any peculiar advantage in the use of the wheel except in the facility of the operation; no doubt, however, but there is a saving of time, particularly in the preparation of the larger plates.
For general use, we have not seen a wheel better adapted for this purpose than the one patented by Messrs. Lewis. To Color Back-grounds—To obtain a properly colored back ground is a matter of no little importance to the Daguerreotype operator. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book
I had nearly exhausted all patience, and tried the skill of painters to obtain a back-ground that would be suitable to my purpose; but all to no avail. At last I adopted the following method, and at a cost of coloring of twenty-five cents, can now produce a back-ground far more valuable than those which had cost five dollars before.
Take common earth paint, such as is used in painting roofs; mix this with water to about the consistency of cream; then to four quarts of this mixture add about one pint of glue water (common glue dissolved in water, also about as thick as cream). This last will cause the paint to adhere to the cloth, to which it is applied with a common white-wash brush.
By applying the brush on the coating while it is wet, it may be so blended that not a line can be seen, and a perfectly smooth color of any shade can be obtained. The shade of color I use is a light reddish-brown. Tripoli, rotten-stone, or any earthy matter, may be applied in the same manner. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book
Transparent or Invisible Back-ground.—I give this as originally published in my System of Photography, 1849: “Take a large woollen blanket with long nap, the longer and rougher it is the finer will be the effect produced; stretch it on a frame of sufficient size, and suspend the frame at the centre of the upper end by a string fastened to a nail in the ceiling.
From three to five feet back of the sitter. Having arranged this, fasten another string to the side of the frame, and while the operation is going on in the camera, swing the back-ground from right to left, continuing this during the whole time of sitting, and you have a clear “transparent” back-ground.
Which throws the image out in bold relief, and renders the surface of the plate invisible. If equalled at all it is only by atmospheric back-ground. I consider it to be the best ever known, and think it needs but to be tried to afford satisfactory proof that it is so. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book
Although used by few before, since the first edition of this work at least two thirds of the operators have adopted its use; for any one can at once understand the principle and the effect which it produces.” It may be added that a motion imparted to to any back-ground where softness is desired, produces an excellent effect.
Gilding Dissolvent.—To one quart of muriatic acid add as much oxide of iron (common iron rust) as it will dissolve in two days. This may be done by putting in the oxide in excess. It should be frequently shook, and when wanted for bottling it should be allowed to stand in order to settle.
When this is done the solution may be poured off, and reduced by adding to it an equal quantity of water; then it is ready for use. This constitutes a gilding dissolvent now in our market. Solution for Removing Specks.—There is probably no one cause of complaint so general as “what makes those black specks? ” American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book Download
There are several causes which produce them, and probably the most general are dust, rouge, or a spray of moisture on the plate. It this be the case, there is no solution which can remove them, as they have prevented a chemical action with the silver.
And their removal would only expose the surface of the plate which in itself would afford a contrast with the impression. Another and less dangerous source of these specks is organic matter contained in the solution employed in dissolving the chemicals, or the water in washing.
Much of the hyposulphite of soda in market contains a sulphuret, which, coming in contact with the silver surface, immediately causes oxidation. Such spots, as well also as most all others found on the plate after it has been exposed in the camera, can be removed by the following, solution. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book Download
To one ounce of water add a piece of cyanide of potassium the size of a pea; filter the solution and apply by pouring it on the surface of the plate. In all cases the plate should first be wet with water. Apply a gentle heat, and soon the spots disappear, leaving the impression clear and free from all organic matter.
In the absence of cyanide of potassium, a solution of pure hyposulphite of soda will answer as a fair substitute. History of Iodine.—This is one of the simple chemical bodies which was discovered in 1812 by M. Courtois, of Paris, a manufacturer of saltpetre, who found it in the mother-water of that salt.
Its properties were first studied into by M. Gay Lussac. It partakes much of the nature of chlorine and bromine. Its affinity for other substances is so powerful as to prevent it from existing in an isolated state. It occurs combined with potassium and sodium in many mineral waters, such as the brine spring of Ashby-de-la-Zouche, and other strongly saline springs. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book Download
This combination exists sparingly in sea-water, abundantly in many species of fucus or sea-weed, and in the kelp made from them. It is an ingredient in the Salt Licks, saline, and brine springs of this country, especially of those in the valley of the Mississippi.
It is sparingly found in fresh-water plants, as well also in coal, and in combination with numerous other bodies. Fermented liquors contain iodine; wine, cider, and perry are more iodureted than the average of fresh waters. Milk is richer in iodine than wine; independently of the soil, with which it varies.
The proportion of iodine in milk is in the inverse ratio of the abundance of that secretion. Eggs (not the shell) contain much iodine. A fowl’s egg weighing 50 gr. contains more iodine than a quart of cow’s milk. Iodine exists in arable land. It is abundant in sulphur, iron, and manganese ores. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book Download
And sulphuret of mercury: but rare in gypsum, chalk, calcareous and silicious earths. Any attempt to extract iodine economically should be made with the plants of the ferro-iodureted fresh waters. Most of the bodies regarded by the therapeutists as pectoral and anti-scrofulous are rich in iodine.
It is probably to the application of this body that we owe the discovery of the daguerreotype. There is no record of the precise date when Daguerre commenced experimenting with iodine, but by the published correspondence between him and M. Neipce, his partner, it was previous to 1833.
There is no doubt, however, that the first successful application was made in 1838, as the discovery was reported to the world early in January, 1839. Preparation.—Iodine is mostly prepared from kelp, or the half vitrified ashes of seaweed, prepared by the inhabitants of the western islands, and the northern shores of Scotland and Ireland. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book Free
It is treated with water, which washes out all the soluble salts, and the filtered solution is evaporated until nearly all the carbonate of soda and other saline matters have crystallized out. The remaining liquor, which contains the iodine, is mixed with successive portions of sulphuric acid in a leaden retort.
And after standing some days to allow the sulphureted hydrogen, etc., to escape, peroxide of manganese is added, and the whole gently heated. Iodine distills over in a purple vapor, and is condensed in a receiver, or in a series of two-necked globes. Properties.—Iodine is solid at the ordinary temperature.
Presenting the appearance of dark-grey or purple spangles, possessing a high degree of metallic lustre. It somewhat resembles plumbago, with which it is sometimes diluted, particularly when it is fine. Operators should endeavor to secure the larger crystals. American hand book of the Daguerreotype PDF Book Free
It melts at 224.6 deg., forming a brown or nearly black liquid. It boils at about 356 deg., and emits a very deep violet colored vapor. It gives off a very appreciable vapor, sufficient for all purposes of forming the iodide of silver on the daguerreotype plate, at a temperature of 45 deg. or even lower.
Iodine crystallizes readily. Every operator has found upon the side of the jar in his coating-box, perfectly regular crystals, deposited there by sublimation.