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Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
827.01 Mobile studios > Avery's Portable Daguerreotype Saloon (1847)
Farmer and Mechanic (New-York) vol. 1, no. 46 (11 November 1847) pp. 541
Mr. Austin Avery, of Norwich, Connecticut, has invented a new process for taking Daguerreotype miniatures, pictures, and landscapes, and which promises great success to the artist in the prosecution of this wonderful science. His invention consists in the erection of what he calls a "Portable Daguerreotype Saloon," which is easily conveyed on wheels from place to place through the country.
Farmer and Mechanic (New-York) vol. 1, no. 46 (11 November 1847) pp. 548
Our correspondent "Alana," remarks:—"This saloon has all the necessary requisites for the due execution of the most perfect miniature. The great embarrassment that has hitherto attended the artist, in regard to throwing the light in a proper degree, and from a proper source upon the object, is wholly obviated, and these means are attained in a manner which render the miniature striking, and brilliant in the extreme.
"But one of the chief advantages derived from this invention consists in its portability. This saves the practitioner the trouble and expense of fitting up new rooms whever he goes, which must necessarily be attended with much trouble and expense, for practitioners of this character are generally wandering artists. It is also peculiarly calculated to take with the public. It creates quite a sensation on entering a village; it published its character; the people flock to it out of curiosity at first. And finally, the great success that has attended its operations justly entitles it a place among the many improvements of the age.
Mr. Avery is about to apply for "letters patent" for his improvement."
We have copied on our first page a daguerreotype drawing of a traveling Daguerreotype Saloon, got up by an enterprising Yankee in the vicinity of Norwich, Ct. It will be seen that this convenience for the practice of the Daguerrean art not only promises patronage to its proprietor from persons who might not feel interested in the subject, unless it were brought literally to their own doors, but it adds greatly to its facilities and adaptation, by enabling the operator to take transcripts of trees, buildings, landscapes and objects of curiousity which he may meet with in the way of his perigrinations; and being enabled to place his saloon in the most favorable positions better and more perfect pictures of natural scenery and objects will be readily obtained.—Should the proprietor push his adventures "all the way to New Hampshire," we hope he may send us a picture of the Monadnoc and the features of the old man of the mountains.
827.02 Mobile studios > Contemporary account of itinerant photographers in America (1856)
"American Photography", The Liverpool Photographic Journal (12 January 1856) pp. 1-2.
Another characteristic of the art, in this country, is the great number of establishments on wheels, which may be termed itineraritypes. They generally bear the name of "saloons," and are something of the appearance of the waggons of a menagerie in Britain, but much lighter in the wheels. They are plentiful in the thinly peopled districts, and when every body has been "taken" who are within a convenient distance of the saloon, a team of horses, oxen, or mules is hired, and paid for in pictures, as is nearly all their other expenses of living, &c., and the saloon is moved to another neighbourhood, till all the faces in that are also mapped secundum artem, when another move takes place, and the process is repeated. These perambulators are formed so that portions of the sides fall down to form a floor, in addition to the waggon bottom, and the sides-fitted up with sashes, india-rubber cloth, &c., all of which, with the steps and other "fixings," are packed inside when travelling from one spot to another. As the body is always on springs, it is impossible to stir in one while a face is being mapped; the casual entrance of a visitor at such a time is mentally deprecated, and calls forth sundry efforts of ingenuity to stop the springs by props under the body to bear it off them. Many of these concerns are very profitable indeed, and their cost originally, (the carriage alone), without any stock of plates, &c., is from £75 to £200 sterling. It is not every one who can manage with such customers as are most numerous at such establishments, and a peculiar tact is required to accommodate them. I made a plan for one such saloon which cost the latter sum, and the owners in two years more than paid for it, his assistants, and his own time, having a considerable sum in the bank besides. He has since sold it at a profit, and is now using a swimming Daguerrean saloon on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, on which are several other floating establishments, from the owners of two of which I have an occasional letter. These saloons also migrate like wild fowls, according to the degree of exhaustion of business in any locality, and in several cases receive their pay in any kind of produce they may require for their own use, or can dispose of. From such as these perambulating establishments many fine views might be procured, were they only to turn their attention to the subject: but the prospect of being paid for their trouble being so remote, and withal rather uncertain, they prefer the usual walk of face mapping as being by far the most available.
827.03 Mobile studios > Roger Fenton: The artist's van
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer
Roger Fenton provided a description of his photographic van which...
"...began its career, in the service of a wine merchant at Canterbury [England]."
"When it entered into the service of Art, a fresh top was made for it, so as to convert it into a dark room; panes of yellow glass, with shutters, were fixed in the sides; a bed was constructed for it, which folded up into a very small space under the bench at the upper end; round the top were cisterns for distilled and for ordinary water, and a shelf for books. On the sides were places for fixing the gutta-percha baths, glassdippers, knives, forks, and spoons. The kettle and cups hung from the roof. On the floor, under the trough for receiving waste water, was a frame with holes, in which were fitted the heavier bottles. This frame had at night to be lifted up and placed on the working bench with the cameras, to make room for the bed, the furniture of which was, during the day, contained in the box under the driving-seat. In the beginning of the autumn of last year, having hired in York a strong horse, we set forth on the road to Rivaulx Abbey in search of the picturesque."
"From the experience obtained in this journey, several modifications were made in the construction of the carriage,and it finally assumed the shape in which it appears in the photograph taken of it on the day on which it traveled down to the ravine called the Valley of the Shadow of Death: a picture due to the precaution of the driver on that day, who suggested that, as there was a possibility of a stop being put in the said valley to the further travels of both the vehicle and its driver, it would be showing a proper consideration for both to take a likeness of them before starting."
827.04 Mobile studios > Photographs of photographic vans
827.05 Mobile studios > Contemporary sources on photographic vans
Railroad photographic cars
827.06 Mobile studios > Railroad photograph cars and studios on trains
Specially fitted-out carriages contained mobile studios that traveled to the railroad towns and communities that were expanding along the lines. Carriages could be unhitched into a siding to carry out their business until it was exhausted and then continue to the next location. Railroad photographers advertised in local papers prior to their arrival and could distribute handbills and put up posters when they arrived. The arrival of the photograph car was a rarity to be remembered:
Mrs. Ida Breternizt recalled,
"The great thing we looked forward to...was the photograph car. It...stood on the side tracks where we went to have our pictures taken...I remember so well how we talked of it and planned what we would wear."
In the American West life could be rough and there was an attempted robbery on the railroad car of John B. Silvis where the photographer chased the robbers and "emptied his revolver at them" until his feet became sore running on the rocks.
827.07 Mobile studios > J.B. Silvis: Photograph car
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer
Photographer J.B. Silvis had a Photograph Car on the Union Pacific Railroad. Examining the stereoview of his "Photograph Car" provides a number of details on the photographs he could provide.
"Stereoscopic & Landscape Views of Notable Points on Line of Pacific R.R. Always on Hand"
827.08 Mobile studios > Backmarks for railroad photograph cars
Studios on barges and boats
827.09 Mobile studios > Studios on boats and barges
827.10 Mobile studios > Studios in tents
827.11 Mobile studios > Carleton Watkins: #925 Spring Valley Water Works
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer
The following comments by Will Dunniway and Robert Szabo, two contemporary wet-plate collodion photographers, explain the significance of this rare yellow-mount stereoview "#925 Spring Valley Water Works" by Carleton E. Watkins:
The items inside the tent:
The items outside the tent:
- The spigot for his water supply. It is not possible to see what the container was made of, but most likely it would have been copper or brass for weight considerations.
- Three of the four visible bottles appear to be leather wrapped. This is to prevent the glass from breaking from a rough wagon ride between shoots.
- There is an open wooden box and it is uncertain what it would have been used for. It was most likely to have been used for transporting chemicals and photographic paraphernalia.
The tent itself:
- As can be seen here Carleton Watkins used a vertical bath to process his mammoth plates. It has been suggested that he used a tray as his bath to sensitize his plates but this is conclusive. There is a further point about this bath tank. He is said to have NOT used a glass liner to contain his bath. Instead it was believed he asphalt painted the inside, or something along this line. In this image, it appears that there is not a glass liner. To seal this bath for traveling, usually the glass tank will extend above the wooden rim.
- A mammoth plate storage box.
- These boxes appear to be the 5x8 inch plate storage boxes for making stereo images. They are about the right size for two rows of plates, with a divider in the middle. They are on top the large mammoth plate boxes not being used at this moment of exposure, thus, these 5x8 plate boxes are sequentially in order.
- A glass plate cleaning vise.
- The lid clamp to a silver bath tank. The metal clamp with thumb screws was used for the sealing off this bath tank when traveling. The wooden lid for this huge mammoth plate silver bath tank appears to be with this clamp.
The dark tent is lined with what I think is yellow, or a very warm colored material. As you know, collodion is a blue sensitive emulsion (it is called 'Ordinary'). This being what this is, the blue will NOT be seen, where as the yellow (red or warm tones) would be seen as dark. The outer material seems to be plain white canvas duck. The white outer shell is so the interior of this dark tent would not heat up in direct sun. This color choice was a must on warm days. After about 90oF outside, the inside of the tent would elevate the silver bath to above 80o F in no time at all. At this temperature, silver bath starts to act up, and will produce flawed plates.
It is not certain that the person on the left is Carleton E. Watkins and this remains to be confirmed.
827.12 Mobile studios > Beach photographers
- Λ Roger Fenton is the best known of Crimean War photographers and there is a considerable amount written about him - Gordon Baldwin et al., 2004, All the Mighty World: The Photographs of Roger Fenton, 1852–1860, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press; New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art); Helmut & Alison Gernsheim, 1954, Roger Fenton: Photographer of the Crimean War, (London: Secker & Warburg);
John Hannavy, 1975, Fenton of Crimble Hall, (Boston: David R. Godine); Valerie Lloyd, 1988, Roger Fenton: Photographer of the 1850s, (London: South Bank Board); Richard Pare, 1987, Roger Fenton, (New York: Aperture).
For a rephotographic study - David R. Jones, 2012, In the Footsteps of Roger Fenton, Crimean War Photographer, (www.lulu.com: self-published)
- Λ For the famous illustration of the "artist's van" of Roger Fenton - 10 November 1855, The Illustrated London News, vol. XXVII, edition: 769, p. 557
- Λ A museum display including "Roger Fenton's photograph van" was shown at National Museum of History and Technology in 1973 and there is a photograph of the display (Negative no. 73-6698).
The Hall of Photography opened in 1973 and closed in 1992. The National Museum of History and Technology became the Museum of American History in 1980 and is a part of the Smithsonian.
- Λ March 1, 1856, Humphrey's Journal
- Λ "First Girl Born in NP Awaited Photo Car," Telegraph-Bulletin, 17 Sept. 1973. Reprint of a 1939 interview, cited in Barry A. Swackhamer, April 1994, "J. B. Silvis, the Union Pacific‘s Nomadic Photographer", Journal of the West, vol. 33, no. 2
- Λ The attempted robbery was reported in the Evanston Chieftan, reprinted in the Waterloo Weekly Gazette (26 August 1881) and cited in Barry A. Swackhamer, April 1994, "J. B. Silvis, the Union Pacific‘s Nomadic Photographer", Journal of the West, vol. 33, no. 2
- Λ Barry A. Swackhamer "J. B. Silvis, the Union Pacific‘s Nomadic Photographer" Journal of the West, vol. 33, no. 2; April 1994
George N. Barnard (1819-1902) • H.H. Bennett (1843-1908) • Samuel A. Cooley • J.P. Doremus (1827-1890) • Roger Fenton (1819-1869) • Alexander Gardner (1821-1882) • Josiah Johnson Hawes (1808-1901) • F. Jay Haynes (1853-1921) • Johann Baptist Isenring (1796-1860) • William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) • Mathew Brady's Studio • William McFarlane Notman (1858-1913) • Timothy H. O'Sullivan (1840-1882) • C.R. Savage (1832-1909) • Thomas Sutton (check) • Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916) • Zangaki Brothers
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|Gerald Figal: Mobile darkroom (2013) |
|M. Nowack: Photographer's dark tent is set-up on the boat |
|W. Stevens: Tintype tent |
|W.H. Pearce: The Algonquin Bon Ton Tent, W.H. Pearce, Prop. || |
|Mobile studios: Railroad photograph cars and studios on trains |
|Mobile studios: Studios on boats and barges |
|Carte de visites: Themes: Mobile photographic studios |
|Stereoviews: Themes: Photographic vans, wagons and cars |
|Tintypes: Themes: Tents || |
Still thinking about these...
|Tents || |
Refreshed: 03 December 2013, 08:36