Daguerreotype Miniatures, by J. Van Deusen.

Daguerreotype Miniatures, by J. Van Deusen.

Cooperstown[?], [NY], July 15, 1841. 8vo circular on bifolium, (8” x 5.125). [1] p., [3] blank pp.

An unrecorded and exceptionally early daguerreian circular, providing evidence of the activities of a little known itinerant daguerreotypist in 1841.

Van Deusen was “the earliest known professional ‘shadow catcher’ in New Jersey…who rented a room on the northeast corner of Warren and State streets in Trenton in February 1841 and advertised ‘Daguerreian Miniatures’” (Saretzky). As this circular demonstrates, his practice also took him to Cooperstown, New York and doubtless elsewhere as well. The term he uses for a heading, “Daguerreotype Miniatures,” presents this new form of portraiture as a substitute for the more traditional miniature paintings on ivory, the primary form of small scale portraiture for centuries (the use of the term faded away as the daguerreotype became the prevailing medium). Similarly, the body of his advertisement reflects the newness of the daguerreotype process and the attendant experimentation:

This beautiful and newly discovered process of procuring Photogenic Pictures, which has attracted the attention of men of science in every part of the world, having undergone many improvements of late, is now presented to the Ladies and Gentlemen of this place. The time of sitting required was from five to twenty-five minutes, with the aid of the sun. My present method of operating requires from five seconds to two minutes, without regard to the sun, which not unfrequently causes a contraction of the brow, giving an unnatural frown, which destroyed the likeness.

Typically, a traveling photographer like Van Deusen would ‘work’ a location for two weeks or so before moving on, but it is not revealed in any readily accessible sources where Van Deusen might have been between his visit to Trenton in February of 1841 and his visit to Cooperstown in July, or where he went subsequently. It is likely that he set up his stay in Cooperstown by advertising in the local paper or papers prior to his arrival, as well as by distributing this circular on his arrival, or by sending it ahead.

No copies recorded in OCLC.

A rare, early, and very appealing daguerreian circular.

REFERENCES: Saretzky, Gary D. Nineteenth Century New Jersey Photographers, p. [20] at gary.saretzky.com (Revision of illustrated article in New Jersey History, Fall/Winter 2004 )

Item #7077

Price: $2,500.00

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