When, in 1839, the French government bought the secret of how daguerreotypes were made, and then gifted that secret to the world, the new art form took the world by storm. These first photographs, popular from 1839 until the mid 1850s, would quickly lead to the creation of an empire of practitioners throughout the world. Within two years “daguerreotypists” were in every city, town, and village; and some artists made extra income by becoming “professors” and teaching wannabes—for a fee. Daguerreotypists were quickly supported by a broad network of suppliers of cameras, silver plates, and chemicals. Coming at a time of a severe economic recession its “job” potential was quickly realized and the daguerreotype was to become the basis of a new industry. For some of its practitioners fame and fortune followed.
Speaker Mark S. Johnson is past president of the international Daguerreian Society and editor of the scholarly journal The Daguerreian Annual from 1997 through 2015. As president for fifteen years he moved the Daguerreian Society to Pittsburgh and, in 2001, established for it a new headquarters in Dormont. Until that facility closed in 2006 the society’s gallery was to host three world-class exhibitions.
Presented by the Historical Society of Mount Lebanon