Tag Archives: John Plumbe Jr.

DeWitt C. Grenell

N. D.               5½ Tremont Row, Boston, Massachusetts.                                                                            N. D.               205 Broadway, New York, New York.                                                                                      N. D.               100 Chestnut, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.                                                                        N. D.               Eighth and Chestnut, Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.                                            N. D.               205 Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland.                                                                      1849                Rooms in Safford’s New Block, Watertown, New York.                                              1850                236 Grand Street, New York, New York.                                                          1851                557 & 559 Broadway, New York, New York.

DeWitt C. Grenell was recorded in three advertisements.  The first advertisement ran on October 17 to November 14, 1849 in the Northern New York Journal (Watertown, New York).  Daguerreotype, Plumbotype, and Calotype Pictures, “Secure the Shadow ere the Substance Fades.”  DeWitt C. Grenell, Daguerrean Artist, just arrived from New York and Philadelphia, with the largest assortment of Daguerreotype Stock, Apparatus and Specimens, ever exhibited in Watertown.  Having had many years experience in the largest establishments in the United States, viz: Southworth & Hawes, Boston, M. B. Brady, N. York, T. P. & D. C. Collins, McLees & German sic. McCless & Germon Philadelphia, also Plumbe’s National Daguerrean Gallery, Baltimore.  He has taken and furnished in the best manner three large and commodious rooms in Safford’s New Block, opposite the American Hotel.  Having a thorough knowledge of all the late improvements in the art, and a superior Apparatus, he feels confident his portraits will excel anything before offered.  Ladies and Gentlemen are respectfully invited to call and examine specimens , among which are several distinguished personages.  Photographs neatly set in Lockets, Pins and Rings.  Family Groups of any desired size, also Children taken instantly.

Daguerreotype Stock constantly on hand at the lowest New York Prices.  Goods will be forwarded to Operators in the country on the shortest notice.  Also, instructions given to any person desiring to learn the mysteries of the art.  Watertown, Sept. 26th, 1849.

The Second advertisement ran on June 8 & 10, 1851 in The New York Herald (New York, New York).  D. C. Grenell’s New-York Daguerreian Gallery at the Alhambra, building 557 & 559 Broadway, formerly occupied by J. Niblo, is now open for the reception of the public; no expense has been spared in making it one of the most perfect establishments of the kind in the world, with a thorough knowledge of every improvement the art has attained, and operators of long experience and superior talent employed enables the proprietor to warrant every picture equal to any taken in this country.  The Sky light which is arranged upon a new plan, is superior to many and surpassed by none.  The public can rely upon perfect satisfaction, both with regard to quality and price.

The third advertisement ran on June 9 & 10, 1851 in the New York Daily Tribune.  (New York, New York.)  June 9, 1851, Vol. XI, No. 3165, P. 4.

D. C. Grenell’s New-York Daguerreian Gallery at the Alhambra, building 557 & 559 Broadway, formerly occupied by J. Niblo, is now open for the reception of the public; no expense has been spared in making it one of the most perfect establishments of the kind in the world, with a thorough knowledge of every improvement the art has attained, and operators of long experience and superior talent employed enables the proprietor to warrant every picture equal to any taken in this country. The Sky light which is arranged upon a new plan, is superior to many and surpassed by none. The public can rely upon perfect satisfaction, both with regard to quality and price.

DeWitt C. Grenell is recorded in Craig’s Daguerreian Registry in 1850 to 1851 in New York City.

Zenas Gage, Jr.

ND                       75 Court Street, Boston, Massachusetts.                                                              1842                    74½ Exchange Building, Auburn, New York.

Zenas Gage, Jr. was recorded in an advertisement that ran from August 17 to 31, 1842 in the Auburn Journal and Advertiser (Auburn, New York).  Photography.  Mr. Zenas Gage, Jr., Pupil of John Plumbe, Prof. Photography, in the U. S. Photographic Institute, Boston, respectfully announces to the ladies and gentlemen of Auburn, that he has taken rooms in Exchange Buildings over No. 74½, where he will furnish those who feel desirous, with beautiful and correct Daguerreotype Likenesses, taken with a costly and perfect instrument, at an ordinary window in about 30 seconds, without the direct rays of the sun.

He will also teach others the art, and furnish them with apparatus as cheap as they can buy in Boston, New York, or elsewhere.  All are cordially invited to call and examine specimens.

Zenas Gage, Jr. is not recorded in other photographic directories.

F. M. Foster

1848                 Room opposite Temperance Hall, Indianapolis, Indiana.

F. M. Foster was recorded in an advertisement and was mentioned in an article. The advertisement ran from December 2 to 30, 1848 in the Indiana State Sentinel (Indianapolis, Indiana). F. M. Foster’s Daguerrean Rooms, Opposite Temperance Hall, Indianapolis.  Ladies and Gentlemen are invited to call and examine specimens.  A perfect likeness of a friend is the most acceptable holiday present that can be given or received.  Miniatures taken in cloudy as well as clear weather.  Instructions in the art carefully and faithfully given.  Apparatus, Plates, Cases, Chemicals, &c., furnished to order.

The article was recorded on December 16, 1848 in the Indiana State Sentinel (Indianapolis, Indiana).  Daguerreotype Likenesses.—A rare opportunity is now offered to those who desire to obtain correct likenesses by the daguerreotype process.

First in the list of operators at present in this city, are our friends Munsell & McNaught.  As a scientific chemist, Dr. Munsell has few superiors any where, and as a practical operator in photographic miniatures, large and small, McNaught has no superior in this country.  We use this expression deliberately, and trial will prove its truth.  We visited “Plumbe’s Daguerrean Gallery,” and various other similar rooms, on a late journey to the east, and among the hundreds of specimens which we saw, we did not see one superior, if indeed any equal, to those which can be exhibited by Mr. McNaught.  We therefore feel it due to unpretending but real merit, to recommend our friends to call at the rooms of the gentlemen her indicated, and see for themselves; and we urge them to do so immediately, as we understand that one of them (Mr. McN.) will soon leave town.  It is a common error that one man can make these pictures as well as another; but this is a very great mistake.  To make good ones, requires much practical knowledge, and some good taste; and these qualities are united in these gentlemen to an eminent degree.  Let our friends at once call at the office of Dr. Munsell, in Norris’s building, and see for themselves.

Secondly: we have an artist in the person of Mr. Foster, room opposite Temperance Hall, who has been but a few days in the city.  He exhibits some excellent specimens, and promises to give satisfaction to all who may call his services into requisition.  We have no doubt of his ability to redeem all the promises he may make, and we mean to try his skill in a day or two, upon our handsome phiz.

Albert Beach

Albert Beach is recorded in the New York Daily Tribune (New York, New York) on July 12, 1848 in the partnership of Paige & Beach. The advertisement reads in part.

Henry Clay In His 71st. Year.—Published this day, (June 6, 1848.) by E. Anthony, 205 Broadway, a beautiful steel mezzotint engraving of Henry Clay, drawn and engraved from several Daguerreotypes by H. H. Ritchie.[1]  This likeness was mainly taken from a fine Daguerreotype now in the possession of the subscriber, executed by Messrs. Paige & Beach, Washington.

The second entry was actually the first mention of the Albert Beach that I came across which appeared in the American Telegraph (Washington, D. C.) on July 8, 1851.

A sad case.—about a week ago the records of the Criminal Court should that Albert Beach had been found guilty of obtaining money under false pretenses; and he was yesterday sentenced by Judge Crawford to the Penitentiary for eighteen months.

This man is, we suppose, about thirty-six years old.  He was educated to commercial business in the city of New York, where he afterward held a profitable and responsible position in one of the first establishments.  He subsequently followed the business of daguerreotyping in this city, with apparently very good success; and while so engaged, two or three years ago, married a most estimable and excellent young lady.  To the surprise of many, however, he suddenly sold out his interest in the daguerreotyping establishment, and threw himself out of business for a time; but after a little commenced an auction store, in which his career was brief, as many who had come to know him predicted.  His course was then rapidly downward, and instead of “swelling” at the hotels he turned to lounging at the groggeries; and instead of trying to effect “transactions” at wholesale stores, his aim was simply to “do” some poor fool out of a few dollars.  Caught in one of these tricks, he has at least been sentenced to the felon’s punishment…

After checking Craig’s Daguerreian Registry Beach was not list but Blanchard P. Paige was.  I checked part of Laurie Baty’s unpublished research of Nineteenth Century Washington, D. C. Photographers, and found an entry that said that he they worked at Plumbe’s studio.

[1] Alexander Hay Ritchie, Engraver, genre, portrait, and figure painter.

Barstow & Spencer

Two advertisements were recorded in the Plattsburgh Republican (Plattsburgh, New York.) on March 15 and on May 10, 1845.  The partnership of George F. Barstow & James C. Spencer have been previously unrecorded in photographic directories or histories.

Colored Photographs.  “First Come First Served.”  Barstow & Spencer Will remain in Plattsburgh for a short time only, taking Daguerreotype Miniatures, at the rooms hereto fore occupied by Geo. F. Barstow where they will be happy to attend to as many more as may choose to embrace the opportunity of obtaining, for a trifle, beautifully accurate likenesses of themselves or friends.

Ladies and gentlemen are invited to call and examine specimens of their work.                 Geo. F. Barstow.         Jas. C. Spencer.                      March 11.

May 10, 1845.  Plumbe’s Premium Colored Daguerreotypes.  Barstow and Spencer would inform the public that they will remain at their rooms one week longer, and that they have just returned from Plumbe’s National Miniature Gallery, New York, with the latest improvements in the Photographic Art; they are certain of giving their customers complete satisfaction by furnishing them with Pictures which for beauty and accuracy of delineation cannot be surpassed.

Ladies and Gentlemen are invited to call and examine the late specimens of their work.

Daguerreotype Apparatus and Stock of a superior quality, for sale.  Also, instruction in the art given on reasonable terms.     G. F. Barstow, J. C. Spencer. Plattsburg, May 10, 1845.

What is the connection to John Plumbe, Jr. were they students, did they work in one of his establishments or did they just purchase supplies from him?  These are the only entries found for James C. Spencer, see tomorrows post for more on George F. Barstow.

John Plumbe, Jr.

 

The following is a description of John Plumbe’s gallery in New York that I just found and wanted to share. All I can think of is how incredible and amazing this would have been to see.  Hundreds of daguerreotypes exhibited from floor to ceiling, of some of the most recognizable people of their time.  If we could travel back in time it would be amazing to walk into his gallery and see hundreds of daguerreotypes of this caliber, I personably would be blown away.  I’ve seen some great exhibitions over the years but I think this would have been right up there with the best.  All spelling and punctuation remain the same as in the newspaper article.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat.  (Brooklyn, New York.)  July 2, 1846, Vol. 5, No. 160, P. 1.

Visit to Plumbe’s Gallery.  Among the “lions” of the great American metropolis, New York city, is the Picture Gallery at the upper corner of Murray street and Broadway, commonly known as Plumbe’s Daguerreotype establishment.  Puffs etc., out of the question, this is certainly a great establishment!  You will see more life there—more variety, more human nature, more artistic beauty, (for what created thing can surpass that masterpiece of physical perfection, the human face?) than in any spot we know of.  The crowds continually coming and going—the fashionable belle, the many distinguished men, the idler, the children—these alone are enough to occupy a curious train of attention.  But they are not the first thing.  To us, the pictures address themselves before all else.

What a spectacle!  In whichever direction you turn your peering gaze, you see nought but human faces!  There they stretch, from floor to ceiling—hundreds of them.  Ah! What tales might those pictures tell, if their mute lips had the power of speech!  How romance, then, would be infinitely outdone by fact.  Here is one, now—a handsome female, apparently in a bridal dress.  She was then, perhaps, just married.  Her husband has brought her to get her likeness; and a fine one he must have had, if this is a correct duplicate of it.  Is he yet the same tender husband?  Another, near by, is the miniature of an aged matron, on whose head many winters have deposited their snowy semblance.—But what a calm serene bearing!  How graceful she looks in her old age!

Even as you go in by the door, you see the withered features of a man who has occupied the proudest place on earth; you see the bald head of John Quincy Adams, and those eyes of dimmed but still quenchless fire.  There too, is the youngest of the Presidents, Mr. Polk.  From the same case looks out the massive face of Senator Benton.  Who is one of his nearest neighbors?  No one less than the Storm-King of the piano, De Meyer.  Likewise Chancellor Kent and Alexander H. Everett.

Perico’s statuary of the drooping Indian girl, and the mail figure up-bearing a globe, is in an adjoining frame, true as the marble itself.  Thence, too, beams down the napoleon-looking oval face of Ole Bull, with his great dreamy eyes.  Among others in the same connection, (and an odd connection, enough!) are Mrs. Polk, her niece Miss Walker, marble the comedian, Mayor Mickle, George Vandenhoff, Mrs. Tyler, and Mr. Buen, a most venerable white-haired ancient, (we understand, just dead!)  On another part of the wall, you may see Mrs. J. C. Calhoun, the venerable Mesdames Hamilton and Madison, and Miss. Alice Tyler.  There, also, are Mike Walsh—Robert Owen, with his shrewd Scotch face, but benevolent look—Horace Greely—[the] “pirate” Babe—Grant Thorburn—Audubon, the ornithologist, a fiery–eyed old man—Mr. Plumbe himself.  Besides these, of course, are hundreds of others.  Indeed, it is little else on all sides of you, than a great legion of human faces—human eyes gazing silently but fixedly upon you, and creating the impression of an immense Phantom concourse—speechless and motionless, but yet realities.  You are indeed in a new world—a peopled world, though mute as the grave.  We don’t know how it is with others, but we could spend days in that collection, and find enough enjoyment in the thousand human histories, involved in those daguerreotypes.

There is always, to us, a strange fascination in portraits.  We love to dwell long upon them—to infer many things, from the text they preach—to pursue the current of thoughts running riot about them.  It is singular what a peculiar influence is possessed by the eye of a well painted miniature or portrait.—It has a sort of magnetism.  We have miniatures in our possession, which we have often held, and gazed upon the eyes in them, for the half-hour!  An electric chain seems to vibrate, as it were, between our brain, and him or her preserved there so well by the limner’s cunning.  Time, space, both are annihilated, and we identify the semblance with the reality.—And even more than that.  For the strange fascination of looking at the eyes of a portrait, sometimes goes beyond what comes from the real orbs themselves.

Plumbe’s beautiful and multifarious pictures all strike you, (whatever their various peculiarities) with their naturalness, and the life-look of the eye—that soul of the face!  In all his vast collection, many of them thrown in hap-hazard, we notice not one that has dead eye.  Of course this is a surpassing merit.  Nor is it unworthy of notice, that the building is fitted up by him in many ranges of rooms, each with a daguerrian operator; and not merely as one single room, with one operator, like other places have.  The greatest emulation is excited; and persons or parties having portraits taken, retain exclusive possession of one room, during the time.

Tyler & Company revisited

While in my opinion Tyler & Company are not in the top echelon of photographers operating in America during the first twenty years. Their advertisements would lead you to believe that they were.  In researching the Memphis Daily Appeal newspaper. In which I have access to the latter part of the project from January 1857 through December 1859 and beyond. Fortunately, or unfortunately Tyler and Company fit into this time slot during their stay in Memphis.  Like in Richmond their modus operandi is the same, they brag that they are better than everyone else, that their accomplishments are better, and that their gallery is the finest in the State that they have won many awards and have 16 years of experience.  Again like Richmond they undercut the other photographers’ prices and start fights in their advertisements with their competitors.  In reviewing the files they have advertised more in 15 months, (October 1858 through December 1859) then all the other photographs put together in 36 months.

On October 17, 1858 their first advertisement appeared in the Memphis Daily Appeal.

Tyler & Co. Give notice to the public of Memphis that they have opened an extensive Sky Light Depot of Art at 219 Main Street, opposite Odd Fellows’ Hall, for the purpose of introducing a new and original plan of Picture Making.  It consist in taking at the rate of 300 pictures daily, and being enabled to make fine Ambrotypes for 75 cents, the same as others charge $2 for. Ladies and gentlemen who visit Tyler & Co.’s Gallery, can be assured of receiving the best of treatment and the highest satisfaction in point of good work.  Tyler & Co., have had 16 years’ experience in their profession, and enjoy a celebrity worldwide throughout the Union.  They make all the various styles of pictures at prices ranging from 75 cents to $1, and also introduce the Vitreotype[1], a picture heretofore unknown in Memphis.  Call and see the new Gallery.

As stated above there are many similarities between their advertisements in Richmond and Memphis. “They still keep it before the public” their words.  Meaning that they advertise most every day often there are multiple entries of between one paragraph, or more often than not three to nine lines consisting of a sentence or two in the same Business Notices or the Local Matters columns.  The overall tone of the advertisements seems to have become more reserved then in Richmond, they are still making claims that they have the finest and largest gallery in the state.  In Richmond they continued to say that they made 400 to 800 portraits daily and sometimes as high as 1,000 a day.  In Memphis they are consistent throughout their stay at 300 portraits taken daily.  From October 17, 1858 to January 4, 1859 their prices stay the same at 75 cents to $100.  On January 5, 1859 they lower their prices to 50 cents to $50.

Tyler and Company use several name to describe their gallery. Sky-Light Depot of Art; Tyler & Co.’s Gallery; Young America Picture Depot; Big Depot of Art; Locomotive Picture Depot; Great Depot; Great Depot of Art; Tyler & Co.’s Gallery of Art; and Great sky-light Daguerreotype Depot and Emporium of Art, Beauty and Fashion to name but a few.

There seems to be a double standard in the way that Tyler & Co. attacks their competitors…their work is inferior, their images cost too much, they will fade or rust…when the other photographers voice their opinion of them, Tyler and Company often attack back “Don’t be deceived by the bombast of their rivals. The fogyism they exhibit in the newspapers, shows their envy of Tyler & Co.”  They never really answer the other photographers’ accusations.

In trying to tie up the record for Tyler and Company in Memphis I searched the latter part of 1860 knowing that Tyler and Company only stays in one location for two or three years at the most, see below for activity dates. They also probably were not in the South during the Civil War, since the first hard dates for them was 1853 in Boston, which would mean that they probably had northern sympathies. In addition Edward M. Tyler is recorded as being in Providence, R. I. in 1860 and in Newport, R. I. in 1865.  The last advertisement found was on October 11, 1860 and reads Tyler & Co. attend personally to their visitors, assisted by a corps of talented artists.

To confuse the time line more, two days later on October 13 the report of the Shelby County Agricultural Fair is published.  It list for Best Daguerreotypes, $5, O. H. Tyler; Brandon & Crater received a certificate.  Than on October 19 the following appears

Premium Daguerreotypes.—We will willingly correct an error which in the hurry of reporting the premiums awarded at the late fair, we, with other reporters, fell into, copying the list of premiums from the Secretary’s books. We reported Tyler & Co. as having received the premium for best daguerreotypes, and Brandon & Crater the certificate.  We understand from a member of the latter firm that the premium was awarded to them instead of O. H. Taylor & Co.  Since no first name was ever used for Tyler & Company in the Richmond or Memphis newspapers it is unclear if O. H. Taylor is another typo or do we have a clue as to who Tyler is.  At least in Richmond it was suggested that there was at least two Tyler’s running the gallery. Possibly Edward M., or O. H.?

Unlike John Plumbe, Jr., Jesse Harrison Whitehurst, and Thomas Jefferson Dobyns who had multiple galleries operating at the same time Tyler & Co. appears to open one studio and then moves on after a couple of years. This may not have been the case while they were in Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia where they seem to be operating both galleries at the same time.

A side note Charles R. Rees who worked for Tyler & Company, in the Richmond and Petersburg Galleries and possibly in several other locations, took over their Richmond Studio and made reference to sending ambrotypes to a new gallery in Memphis. On October 23, 1858 the following appeared in the Richmond Daily Dispatch. “We understand the reason that Rees & Co. have no Pictures on exhibition at the Mechanics’ Institute, is partly owing to their not having had time to arrange them in time for competition, and having just sent about 200 specimens of their new style of Ambrotypes to Memphis, Tenn., for the opening of a new Gallery. We are certain that their new style of Pictures would be much admired at the Institute.”

This opens a whole new line of questions. On May 5, 1859 in the Richmond Daily Dispatch the following appears….Old Rees has had 17 years experience in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Charleston, New Orleans and Cincinnati…. Did Rees work for Tyler & Co. in those locations? We know that Tyler and Company was in Boston and Charleston, and they claim they were in New Orleans and in Cincinnati, there was a James Tyler & Co. in 1857.  No hard evidence has been found at this time that Tyler & Company were in New Orleans, New York or Philadelphia.  John Craig does list Rees in Craig’s Daguerreian Registry as being in Richmond and in New York. What is the connection with Tyler & Company in Memphis?  Is he a partner?  No advertisement, articles or notices were recorded in the newspaper for C. R. Rees that I have found to date.

To throw another twist to the relationship with Tyler & Company there is a Rees, Blodget & Company in Worcester, Massachusetts at the same time that that Tyler & Co were there. There are no first names attached to the company so it is unclear if this could possibly be C. R. Rees or not…  The advertisements are a standard attack by their competitors. Two advertisements follow.

October 18, 1855 in the Worcester Daily Spy. Take Notice!—Opposition to Steam Daguerreotypes, taken by a new American discovery, for only 25 cents, warranted to be of the best quality, and satisfaction given.  Something less than 500 taken daily.  No connection with the steam whistle, next door.  Rees, Blodget, & Co, artists.  Piper Block, Main st.

October 19, 1855. Rees, Blodget, & Co. do not take Daguerreotypes by steam, as their noisy competitors boast to do, but at the same time give all who visit them good portraits, and at a quick rate, for 25 cents.  Rees, Blodget & Co. have opened their rooms at Piper’s Block, bent upon blowing up all steam boilers in the vicinity, if they burst themselves in doing so.

While reading through the Memphis Daily Appeal newspaper the following item appears.  It’s not directed by name specifically to Tyler and Company, nor is it signed, but by the tone and history of Tyler & Co.’s advertisements it is conceivable that a rival had it published.  This is pure speculation on my part and I really try not to do that.  There is a quote that I’ll end with that I try to live by, but in this case it sounds so much like them that after days of consideration I decided to include it here.  It was published on November 17, 1858 exactly one month after Tyler & Co.’s first advertisement appears in Memphis papers.

What sort of an Animal a “Snob” is.—Thackeray thus daguerreotypes this animal. He is speaking of English society:

“A snob is that man or woman who are always pretending before the world to be something better—especially richer or more fashionable—than they are. It is one who thinks his own position in life contemptible, and is always, yearning and striving to force himself into one above, without the education or characteristics which belong to it; one who looks down upon, despises, and overrides his inferiors, or even equals of his own standing, and is ever ready to worship, fawn upon, and flatter a rich and titled man, not because he is a good man, a wise man, or a Christian man; but because he has the luck to be rich or consequential.”

The quote that I mentioned is by John Drydan and holds as true today as the day it was written. “We find but few historians of all ages, who have been diligent enough in their search for truth; it is their common method to take on trust what they distribute to the public, by which means, a falsehood once received from a famed writer becomes traditional to posterity.”  This is the one reason why in my research I document everything and give a source of where the information comes from.

Tyler & Co. Activity dates and addresses.

N.D.                 Address Unknown, New Orleans, Louisiana.[2]

1853-1855       2 Winter Street, Boston, Massachusetts.[3]

1855                 Main & Front Streets, Worcester, Massachusetts.[4]

1854-1856       Address Unknown, Charleston, South Carolina.[5]

1857-1858       139 Main Street, Richmond, Virginia.[6]

1857-1858       39 Sycamore Street, Petersburg, Virginia.[7]

1858                   Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.[8]

1858-1860       219 Main Street, opposite Odd Fellows’ Hall, Memphis, Tennessee.[9]

1860                81 Westminster Street, Providence, Rhode Island.[10]

[1] Their name for Daguerreotypes.

[2] Richmond Daily Dispatch

[3] Directory of Massachusetts Photographers, 1839-1900 and Boston Morning Journal

[4] Worcester Daily Spy

[5] Partners with the Sun South Carolina Photographers 1840-1940.

[6] Richmond Daily Dispatch.

[7] ibid

[8] ibid

[9] Memphis Daily Appeal.

[10] Craig’s Daguerreian Registry.