Despite their extremely delicate surface, a number of daguerreotypes have survived due to the protective covering.  The plate on which the image is printed is protected by a brass mat, covered by a piece of glass, and held together with a metal strip frame.  All of this is placed inside a padded case.  The 154 year old Washington portrait of abolitionist John Brown [below] is fully intact.  Washington's stamp is visible on the inside cover.  The portrait presents a conservative-looking John Brown gazing intensely into the camera lens.  This image was taken about 13 years before his capture at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia in 1859 and 20 years after the invention of the daguerreotype.  [Courtesy:  National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution]



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February 2000