American Hand Book of the Daguerreotype by Samuel D. Humphrey

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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by S. D. HUMPHREY, In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.



There is not an Amateur or practical Daguerreotypist, who has not felt the want of a manual–Hand Book, giving concise and reliable information for the processes, and preparations of the Agents employed in his practice.

Since portraits by the Daguerreotype are at this time believed to be more durable than any other style of “Sun-drawing,” the author has hit upon the present as being an appropriate time for the introduction of the Fifth Edition of this work. The earlier edition having a long since been wholly; exhausted, the one now before you is presented.

The endeavor has been to point out the readiest and most approved Methods of Operation, and condense in its pages; as much practical information as its limits will admit. An extended Preface is unnecessary, since the aim and scope of this work are sufficiently indicated by the title.




Polishing the Daguerreotype Plate–Buffing the Plate–Coating the Plate– Exposure of the Plate in the Camera–Position Developing the Daguerreotype– Exposure to Mercury–Removing the Coating–Gilding or fixing the Image– Coloring Daguerreotype, . . . . . 18


Coloring Back Grounds–Transparent ditto–Gilding Dissolvent– Solution for removing Specks–Solarized Impression–To Purify Water– Cleaning Mercury–Adhesive Paper–Black Stain for Apparatus– Sealing Wax for Bottles–Rouge–Rotten Stone–Potassa Solution– Hyposulphite Solution–Substitute for do.–Gilding Solution– Solution for increasing the Brilliancy of the Daguerreotype– Bleaching Solution;–Cold Gilding–Neutralizing Agents– Buff Dryer–Keeping Buffs in order–Cleaning Buckskins– Reflector for taking Views, . . . .52


Bromine and its Compounds–Iodine and its Compounds– Chlorine and its Compounds–Cyanide of Potassium– Hyposulphite of Soda–Hyphosulphite of Gold–Nitric Acid– Nitro-Muriatic Acid–Hydrochloric Acid–Hydrofluoric Acid– Sulphuric Acid–Accelerating Substances–Liquid Sensitives– Dry Sensitives, etc., etc., . . . . .72


Light–Optics–Solar Spectrum–Decomposition of Light–Light, Heat, and Actinism–Blue Paper and Color for the Walls of the Operating Room– Proportions of Light, Heat and Actinism composing a Sunbeam– Refraction–Reflection–Lenses–Copying Spherical Aberration– Chromatic Aberration, . . . 131


To make Plates for the Daguerreotype–Determining the Time of Exposure in the Camera–Instantaneous Process for Producing Daguerreotype– Galvanizing the Daguerreotype Plate–Silvering Solution– Daguerreotype without Mercury–Management of Chemicals– Hints and Cautions–Electrotyping–Crayon Daguerreotypes– Illuminated Daguerreotypes–Natural Colors in Heliography– Multiplying Daguerreotypes on one Plate–Deposit in Gilding– Practical Hints on the Daguerreotype, . . . 149


An Account of Wolcott and Johnson’s Early experiments in the Daguerreotype, . . . 188



Polishing the Daguerreotype Plate–Buffing the Plate–Coating the Plate– Exposure of the Plate in the Camera–Position–Developing the Daguerreotype– Exposure to Mercury–Removing the Coating–Gilding or fixing the Image– Coloring Daguerreotype.

Polishing the Daguerreotype Plate.–I shall endeavor to present to the reader the process I have found productive of good and satisfactory results, presenting the same in a clear and concise manner, so that any one, by following the various manipulations given, will be enabled to succeed. If there is any one part of the process in Daguerreotype in which operators fail more than all others, it is in not properly preparing the plate. It has truly been said that it would take a volume to describe all the methods that have been suggested for polishing the plate.

I shall confine myself to the following description, which has been successfully practised, also most generally adopted by our operators, and I believe equal, if not superior to any other method, yet at the same time it is not of so much importance what particular method is employed, so that it be thoroughly and skillfully carried out.

There is a general tendency with beginners to slight this operation; hence the necessity of adopting a system which precludes the possibility of doing so. During many years’ study and practice in the art, I have tried numerous methods and substances for the better accomplishment of the end in view, and have finally settled upon the following, as being (so far as experience allows me to Judge) the modus operandi, best suited to all circumstances; under no condition would I approve of a method less rigorous or precise.

The operator being provided with a bottle of finely prepared rotten stone, cover the mouth of the bottle with a piece of thick paper, this perforated with a pin so that the rotten stone can be dusted on the plate. Fasten the plate on the holder, take the rotten stone (Becker’s can always be depended upon), and dust on lightly until the surface is freely covered; now drop on the plate’s surface a few drops of an alcoholic solution.*

*This solution is composed of equal parts of alcohol and water, for the summer, and in winter three parts alcohol to one of water; a few drops of potassa solution may be added, and is known to have a decided effect upon the plate.

Take a patch of Canton flannel; in order to prevent the moisture from the hand it should have a thick, firm texture: with this rub the plate in circles across, then back covering onehalf of the former row of circles in each crossing until you have gone over the plate and back to the point of beginning, occupying at least half a minute in the operation, for a small plate, and so in proportion for the other sizes.

Care should be observed to keep the patch wet with the alcoholic solution forming a paste on the surface of the plate; the motion of the hand should be brisk and free, not hurried, and the pressure about equal to that of a pound weight. When the cotton is disposed to adhere to the plate, and slip from under the finger, spread the fore and middle fingers a little apart, then pressing down, bring them together in such a manner as to form a fold in the cloth between them, by which means you will hold it perfectly secure.

Avoid wetting the fingers, and should they perspire, wipe them often, as the moisture penetrating the cotton and coming in contact with the plate, would cause streaks it would be difficult to remove. I will here remark that many operators use much more cotton flannel than there is need of. I have found in my experience that a single patch, about one and half inch square, will be better for cleaning a number of plates than a new piece for every plate. This is the case for the wet, and for the dryrubbing two or three pieces will be found to answer. Thus with four or five cloths a dozen plates may be prepared.

Some operators use prepared cotton, and think it more convenient than the flannel. This may be had prepared free from seeds and in a very perfect state, if wished.

In going over the plate, great care should be observed, in touching its surface as equally as possible. The greatest care should be taken neither to touch the plate with the fingers, nor that part of the cotton flannel which is to come in contact with its surface; take a clean piece of flannel by one corner, snap it smartly to free it from dust and loose fibres, lay it face-side upward, dust on a little fine rotten stone; with this, polish around, or across, or in circles, lightly and briskly, passing gradually over the whole surface of the plate, as was done before with the wet. The plate should now exhibit a bright, clear, uniform surface, with a strong metallic lustre, perfectly free from any appearance of film; if not, the last polished should be continued until the effect is obtained, and when once obtained, the plate is ready for buffing.

Buffing the Plate.–There are a variety of ways and means employed in this part of the operation. Some choose wheels, and others prefer the ordinary hand-buff. I have been unable to detect any peculiar advantage in the use of the wheel except in the facility of the operation; no doubt, however, but there is a saving of time, particularly in the preparation of the larger plates. For general use, we have not seen a wheel better adapted for this purpose than the one patented by Messrs. Lewis.

It is generally well to use a hand-buff before placing the plate on the wheel; this is in order to prevent, as far as possible, the dust or other substance that may be on the surface of the plate from coming in contact with the cover of the wheel. I will here follow out the use of the hand-buffs (two are necessary) as they are mostly used.

In the morning, before using the buffs, brush both as clean as possible, in order to free them from dust; then with the blade of a pair of shears, held perpendicular, rub the buffs from end to end; then knock them both together in order to free them from all dust or other substances, occasionally exposing them to the sun or to the fire.

With one of the buffs (reserving the finest and softest for the last operation), powder its face with fine rouge and brush off slightly, leaving only the finest particles in it. Every operator should have two plate-holders; one for cleaning and one for buffing the plate; for when using only one, the rotten stone is liable to get on the buff and scratch the plate.

Rest the fingers of the left hand on the back of the buff, near the farther end, with about the same pressure as in cleaning, while with the right you bear on the handle to correspond, and give the buff a free, easy, horizontal motion, passing it very nearly the whole length over the plate each time. Continue this operation in such a manner that the plate will on all parts of its surface have received an equal amount of polish. This buff once well filled with polish, add but little after, say a small quantity once in two or three plates. The polish as well as the buffs must be kept perfectly dry.

The second buff should always be in the best order, and if this is the case, but little polish after the first need be used. Much depends upon the last finish of the surface of the plate, and as a fine impression is desired in the same ratio, the operator must exercise care and skill in this operation. Some buff the smaller plates on the hands, by resting them on the fingers in such a manner that the buff cannot touch them; some by holding the edges with thumb and little finger, with the remaining fingers under, or on the back; and others buff on the holder. When this last method is adopted, it requires the greatest caution to prevent the dust from getting on the buff. The holder should be wiped clean.

The plate frequently slips off or around, and the buff comes in contact with the bed of the holder. When, however, the operator is so unfortunate as to meet with this mishap, the utmost care must be observed in thoroughly cleaning the buff cover before further buffing. In this last buffing it may be continued as before, except without the application of polish powder to the last buff. Examine the surface occasionally, and buff more lightly towards the close of the operation, using at last the mere weight of the buff. This last buffing should occupy as long a time as the first.

The point to be aimed at is, the production of a surface of such exquisite polish as to be itself invisible, like the surface of a mirror. The secret of producing pictures discernible in any light, lies in this: the more dark, deep and mirror-like the surface of the plate, the more nearly do we approach to perfection.

In all cases, very light and long continued buffing is productive of the greater success, since by that means a more perfect polish can be obtained.

The question is often asked, why is it that the plates receive the coating so unevenly? I will answer by saying that it may arise from two causes: the first and most general cause is that those parts of the plate’s surface which will receive the heaviest coating have been more thoroughly polished, and the consequence is that it is more sensitive to the chemical operation. second. and might perhaps be considered a part of the first, the heat of the plate may not be equal in all its parts; this may arise from the heat caused by the friction in buffing. It is a well known fact, with which every observing practitioner is familiar, that a silver plate at a temperature of 45 deg. or less, exposed to the vapors of iodine, is less sensitive and takes a longer time to coat, than when it is at a temperature of 60 deg. or more.

Whenever a view is to be taken, or any impression which requires the plate to be turned on the side, it should be buffed in the other direction, so that the marks will always be horizontal, when the picture is in position. With the finest possible polish, the plate is ready for the coating box.

The question is often asked by operators, what is the state of the plate when polished and allowed to stand for a time before using? To meet this point we hare only to consider the silver and the power acting upon it. Pure atmosphere does not act upon silver; but we do not have this about in our operating rooms, as it is more or less charged with sulphurated hydrogen, which soon tarnishes the surface of the plate with a film of brown sulphurate. It is this that sometimes causes the specks which appear on finishing the impression, and are a great annoyance. Hence we see that the plate should be buffed just before receiving the vapor of iodine. Mr Hunt gives his opinion of the use of diluted nitric acid as the best solution for freeing, the surface of the plate; he says:

“Numerous experiments on plated copper, pure silver plates, and on silvered glass and paper, have convinced me that the first operation of polishing with nitric acid, etc., is essential to the production of the most sensitive surface. All who will take the trouble to examine the subject, will soon be convinced that the acid softens the silver, bringing it to a state in which it is extremely susceptible of being either oxydized or iodized, according as the circumstances may occur of its exposure to the atmosphere or the iodine.”

I cannot see the objection to this solution; not, however, in general use. Our operators do not find it of sufficient importance to the success of their pictures to accept it, the alcoholic solution being in its nature less objectionable.

I will say here, that a plate submitted to only an ordinary polish is found to contain numberless minute particles of the powder made use of. Should the same plate be buffed for a long time, the polish will nearly all disappear, leaving the cavities in the surface free for the action of agents employed in subsequent operation. For this reason, I find that great amount of polishing powder should not be applied to the last buff, and it is obvious that three buffs can be employed to adventure; the two last should not receive any polishing materials. I have examined a plate that was considered to possess a fine finish, and similar had produced good impressions; these same plates, when subjected to a long and light buffing, would present a surface no finer in appearance to the naked eye; but upon exposure to the solar radiation, would produce a well-defined image in one fourth less time than the plate without the extra buffing.

Coating the Plate.–For this purpose our mechanics and artists have provided a simple apparatus called a coating-box, which is so arranged as to be perfectly tight, retaining the vapor of the iodine or accelerators, and at the same time allowing, by means of a slide, the exposure of the plate to these vapors. They can readily be obtained by application to any dealer, all of whom can furnish them.

The principal difficulty in coating the plate, is that of preserving the exact proportion between the quantity of iodine and bromine, or quick. It is here necessary to say, that hardly any two persons see alike the same degree of color, so as to be enabled to judge correctly the exact tint, i. e. what one might describe as light rose red, might appear to another as bright or cherry red; consequently, the only rule for the student in Daguerreotype, is to study what appears to him to be the particular tint or shade required to aid him to produce the desired result. Practise has proved that but a slight variation in the chemical coating, of the Daguerreotype plate will very materially affect the final result.

The operator will proportion the coating of iodine and bromine or accelerators according to the strength and composition of the latter.

Experience proves that the common impressions, iodized to a rather light yellow gold tint, and brought by the bromine to a very light, rose color, have their whites very intense, and their deep shades very black. It is also known that if you employ a thicker coating of iodine and apply upon it a proportionate tint of bromine, so as to obtain a deep rose tint, delineations will be less marked, and the image have a softer tone. This effect has been obvious to everyone who has practised the art. Thus I may observe that the light coatings produce strong contrast of light and shade, and that this contrast grows gradually less, until in the very heavy coating it almost wholly disappears. From this it will readily be perceived that the middle shades are the ones to be desired for representing the harmonious blending of the lights and shades.

Then, if we examine, with respect to strength, or depth of tone, and sharpness of impression, we see that the light coating, produces a very sharp but shallow impression; while the other extreme gives a deep but very dull one. Here, then, are still better reasons for avoiding either extreme. The changes through which the plate passes in coating may be considered a yellow straw color or dark orange yellow, a rose color more or less dark in tint, or red violet, steel blue or indigo, and lastly green. After attaining this latter color, the plate resumes a light yellow tint, and continues to pass successively a second time, with very few exceptions, through all the shades above mentioned.

I will here present some excellent remarks upon this subject by Mr. Finley. This gentleman says:

“It is well known to all who have given much attention to the subject, that an excess of iodine gives the light portions of objects with peculiar strength and clearness, while the darker parts are retarded, as it were, and not brought out by that length of exposure which suffices for the former. Hence, statuary, monuments, and all objects of like character, were remarkably well delineated by the original process of Daguerre; the plate being coated with iodine alone. An excess of bromine, to a certain degree, has the opposite effect; the white portions of the impression appearing of a dull, leaden hue, while those which should be black, or dark, appear quite light. This being the case, I conclude there must be a point between the two extremes where light and dark objects will be in photogenic equilibrium. The great object, therefore, is to maintain, as nearly as possible, a perfect balance between the two elements entering into union to form the sensitive coating of the plate, in order that the lights and shades be truly and faithfully represented, and that all objects, whether light or dark, be made to appear so far conformable to nature, as is consistent with the difference in the photogenic energy of the different colored rays of light. It is this nicely-balanced combination which ensures, in the highest degree, a union of the essential qualities of a fine Daguerreotype, viz., clearness and strength, with softness and purity of tone.

“So far as I know, it is the universal practice of operators to judge of the proportion of iodine and bromine in coating the plate, by two standards of color the one fixed upon for the iodine, the other for the additional coating of bromine. Now I maintain that these alone form a very fallacious standard. first, because the color appears to the eye either lighter or darker, according as there is more or less light by which we inspect the coating; and secondly, because if it occur that we are deceived in obtaining the exact tint for the first coating, we are worse misled in obtaining the second, for if the iodine coating be too light, then an undue proportion of bromine is used in order to bring it to the second standard, and vice versa.”

The iodine box should be kept clean and dry. The plate immediately after the last buffing, should be placed over the iodine, and the coating will depend upon the character of the tone of the impression desired. Coating over dry iodine to an orange color, then over the accelerator, to a light rose, and back over iodine one sixth as long as first coating, will produce a fine, soft tone, and is the coating generally used for most accelerators. The plate iodized to a dark orange yellow, or tinged slightly with incipient rose color, coated over the accelerator to a deep rose red, then back over iodine one-tenth as long as at first coating, gives a clear, strong, bold, deep impression.

I will here state a singular fact, which is not generally known to the operator. If a plate, coated over the iodine to a rose red, and then exposed to strong dry quick or weak bromine water, so that a change of color can be seen, then recoated over the iodine twice as long as at first coating, it will be found far more sensitive when exposed to the light than when it has been recoated over the iodine one-fourth of the time of the first coating.

Probably the best accelerating combination is the American compound formerly known as “Gurney’s American compound,” or some of the combinations of bromide of lime. The first is thought to possess perhaps more uniformity in its action than any other combination I have ever used.

The plate once coated should be kept excluded from the light by means of the plate holder for the camera box.

I will notice one of the principal causes having a tendency to prevent the perfect uniformity of chemical action, between the iodine and silver; hydrogen, or the moisture in the atmosphere, makes a very perceptible barrier. This moisture may arise as the result of the cold, from a want of friction in the buffing of the plate, which, coming in contact with the warmer air, as a writer on this subject says:

“It is well known that as often as bodies, when cold, are exposed to a warmer air, the humidity contained in them is condensed. It is to this effect that we must attribute the difficulty experienced in operating in most cases.” This is corroborated by the results experienced by our operators. So it is seen that the plate should be of a temperature above that of the atmosphere. Mr. Gurney submits his plates to a gentle heat from a spirit lamp just before exposing them to the vapor of iodine. Experience has convinced me that a plate heated to about 80 deg. before being exposed to iodine will present a far better defined image than aplate at a temperature of 50 deg. I account for this by noticing that, at a higher temperature, the plate throws off any larger crystals that might otherwise be deposited, receiving only the finer, thus producing a more perfect chemical combination of iodide of silver. I would call the attention of the operator to this point, as presenting something of interest, and which may direct in a way of accelerating the future operations.

That the presence of a film of moisture over the plate is a preventive of uniform chemical action, may be readily understood from the fact that iodine is almost insoluble in water, requiring seven thousand parts of water to dissolve one of iodine, or one grain to a gallon of water. Yet its affinities for silver and other substances are so powerful as to prevent its existing in an insulated state, hence we can account for the frequent occurrence of a plate presenting parts of an image over its surface. It is quite evident that those parts of plate’s surface covered with moisture are nothing like as sensitive to the iodine as those parts perfectly free.

Exposure of the plate in the Camera, and Position.–The time of exposure necessary to produce an image upon the Daguerreotype plate, can only be determined by experiment, and requires a liberality of judgment to be exercised on the part of the operator. The constant variation of the light renders it impossible to lay down any exact rule upon this point. Light is not alone to be considered; the amount of coating exercises a deviating influence, also the subjects to be represented are not equally photogenic, some requiring much longer time of exposure than others. This may be easily observed by exposing the plate at the same time to a plaster bust and a piece of black velvet, the first being a much stronger reflector of light than the latter: the time necessary to produce a well developed image of the velvet being about six times longer than that required to produce an equally defined image of plaster. The manner of judging correctly of the time is by the appearance of impression after it has been developed by the mercurial vapors. Should it present a deep blue or black appearance it is solarized or over-timed. This sometimes is to an extent, that a perfect negative is formed, the white being represented black, and the dark light.

An object requiring the particular care and attention of the operator is the proper focus. It is not unfrequently the complaint of sitters that their hands are represented as being magnified and greatly out of proportion with the general figure. This is the case also with the nose and eyes, but in a less degree. As this cannot be wholly remedied, it is desirous to come as near as possible, and in order to do this, it is necessary to present the figure in such a position as to bring it as nearly as possible upon the same plane by making all parts nearly at equal distance from the lenses. This must be done by the sitter inclining the head and bust formed to a natural, easy position, and placing the hands closely to the body, thus preserving a propel proportion, and giving a lively familiarity to the general impression. It is not an uncommon fault among our less experienced operators to give a front view of the face of nearly every individual, regardless of any particular form, and this is often insisted upon by the sitter,* who seems to think the truth of the picture exists principally in the eyes staring the beholder full in the face.

* I might here picture some curious scenes experienced by our operators Every one is familiar with a certain class of our community whose ideas of the importance of a free and easy position of the body are too closely confined with stays, attention to toilet, tightly fitting dress coats and the like, to admit of being represented as if nature had endowed them with least possible power of flexibility. To such we would suggest the following, to be well learned and retained in the mind while presenting themselves before the Daguerreotype camera:

“The experience of one who has often been Daguerreotyped, is, to let the operator have his own way.”

Nothing, in many instances, can be more out of place in a Daguerreotype portrait than this, for let a man with a thin, long, defeated-politician-face, be represented by a directly front view, we have, to all appearances, increased the width of the face to such an extent as to reveal it flat and broad, losing the characteristic point by which it would be the most readily recognized. The method we should adopt in taking the likeness of such an individual as above, would be to turn the face from the camera, so as to present the end of the nose and the prominence of the cheek bone equally distant from the lenses, and then focusing on the corner of the eye towards the nose, we cannot in many cases, fail to produce an image with the lips, chin, hair, eyes and forehead in the minutest possible definition.

It should be the study of every operator to notice the effect of the lights and shades while arranging the sitter, and at the same time be very particular to give ease in the position.

No matter how successful the chemical effect may have been, should the image appear stiff and monument-like, all is lost. “In the masterpiece, grace and elegance must be combined.”

I will here use the words of another, which are very true:

“So great is the difference in many faces, when inspected in opposite directions, that one of the two views, however accurately taken, would not communicate the likeness– it not being, the usually observed characteristic form. When the right view of the head is obtained, it is first necessary to consider the size of the plate it is to be taken on, so as to form an idea of the proportion the head should bear to it. The mind must arrange these points before we commence, or we shall find everything, too large or too small for the happy proportion of the picture, and the conveying of a just notion of the stature. The work will have to be done over, and time sacrificed, if this is not attended to. The adjustment of the head to the size of the plate (as seen from the margin of the mat), is not to be taught: everyone must bring himself, by scrutinizing practice, to mathematical accuracy; for something will be discovered in every face which can be surmounted only by experience.

“The eye nearest the camera, in a three-quarter-face, is placed in the middle of the breadth of the plate; the chin, in a person of middle stature, in the middle of the length, and higher according to the proportional height of the person.”

In regard to the proper elevation of the camera, it may be here stated that I have found it best in taking portraits where the hands are introduced, to place the camera at about equal height with the eyes of the sitter, in order to bring the face and hands equi-distant from the tube. It will be found, if the above be followed, that by attaching a string to the camera tube, and making a semi-circle, that the face and hands of the sitter will occupy a corresponding distance, and the consequence is that the impression will appear without the hands being magnified. It has been found that a person with a freckly face can have as fine, fair, and clear an impression as the most perfect complexion; this may be done by the subject rubbing the face until it is very red. The effect is to lessen the contrast, by giving the freckles and skin the same color and the photogenic intensity of the red and yellow being nearly the same, an impression can be produced perfectly clear.

When a child is to be taken, and there are doubts of its keeping still, the operation may be accelerated by placing it nearer the window bringing the screen nearer, and placing a white muslin cloth over the head; this will enable you to work in one third of the usual time. Should the person move, or the plate become exposed to the light, it may be restored to its original sensitiveness by placing it over the quick, one or two seconds.

Developing the Daguerreotype.–After the plate has been submittedto the o peration of the light, the image is still invisible. It requires to be exposed to the vapors of heated mercury. It is not absolutely necessary to apply artificial heat to the mercury to develop the image, for fair proofs have been produced by placing a plate over the bath at the ordinary temperature of the atmosphere. This plan, however, requires a long time and cannot be adopted in practice, even if it were advisable. The time more usually required in developing the image over the mercurial vapors, is about two minutes, and the temperature is raised to a point necessary to produce the desired effect in that time. This point varies as indicated by different scales, but for the ordinary scales it is not far from 90 deg. cen.

The mercury bath is accompanied with a centigrade thermometer, by which the heat is regulated. Those furnished by the manufacturers are not always correct, and it requires some experience to find the proper degree on the scale.

I would here remark that it is advisable, when placing the spirit lamp under the bath, to so arrange it that the position of applied heat should always be on the same point, viz., should the heat be directly under the bulb containing the thermometer it would raise the mercury in the tube to the point marked, and the temperature of that in the bath would be far below what it should be; hence it is (where time is followed for developing) that many failures occur. This is observed more readily in the large baths made of thick iron, particularly upon first heating. In practice I apply the heat as nearly as possible between the centre of the bottom of the bath and the bulb containing the mercury tube. It is advisable to keep the lamp lighted under the bath from the time of commencing in the morning to the close of business at night. By this means you have a uniformity of action, that cannot be otherwise obtained.

It is well known to the experienced Daguerreotypist, that different atmospheres have a decided effect upon the mercury in developing the Daguerreotype. It will require a greater degree of heat for one atmosphere than for another. Experience alone determines this little difference.

In summer, on cloudy and stormy days, mercurial vapors rise more readily and quickly than in the temperature of autumn or winter. From 60 degrees upwards towards the boiling point (660 deg.), the vapors of mercury rise in greater abundance and collect in larger globules on cold surfaces.

For various reasons I prefer a high temperature and short exposure. It accelerates the process. It renders the lights of the picture more strong and clear, while the deep shades are more intense. It gives a finer lustre to the drapery. The solarized portions also are very seldom blue, especially after gilding. If heated too high, however, the light parts become of a dead, chalky white, and the shadows are injured by numerous little globules of mercury deposited over them. Just the right quantity of mercury leaves the impression of a transparent, pearly white tone, which improves in the highest degree in gilding. To mercurialize with exactness is a nice point. If there is reason to suspect having timed rather short in the camera, reduce the time over mercury in a corresponding proportion. A dark impression will be ruined by the quantity of mercury which would only improve a light one.

If practicable, it is most expedient that the plate be submitted to the action of mercury immediately on coming from the camera. I have frequently, however, carried plates for miles in the plate-holders and after exposing in the camera, brought them back to expose to mercury, and obtained fair proofs; but for the reason before given, it is advisable to carry along the bath, and bring out the impression on the spot.

It is sometimes the practice of inexperienced operators to take the plate off the bath and examine the impression by solar light. This plan should be abandoned, as it is almost sure to produce a dense blue film over the shadows.

This I am led to believe is occasioned by the action of light on the yet sensitive portions of the plate, and made to appear only by subsequent exposure to mercury, being equivalent to solarization.

There has been little said by our professors upon the subject of the position of the plates while exposed to the mercurial vapour. Mr. Hunt, in referring to this subject, says: “Daguerre himself laid much stress upon the necessity of exposing the plate to the mercury at an angle of about 45 deg.. This, perhaps, is the most convenient position as it enables the operator to view the plate distinctly, and watch the development of the design; but beyond this, I am satisfied there exists no real necessity for angular position. Both horizontally and vertically, I have often produced equally effective Daguerreotypes.” I presume from the last sentence of Mr. Hunt, that he has confined his experiments to the smaller sized plates. Hence he may not have thought of the effect of the vertical exposure of a large plate.

In America this is a subject of no little importance. When an impression is to be developed upon a plate fifteen by seventeen inches, were we to use an angle of about 45 deg., it would be found to make a perceptible difference in the appearance of the image. By examining the wood tops of our baths as formerly made, it will be found that there is a great variation in the distance from the mercury to the different portions of the plate. By measuring one of these tops for the size plate above mentioned, I find the distance to the nearest point between the mercury and the plate, to be thirteen, and the middle point sixteen, and the furthest point twenty-one and a half inches: by this we see that one point of the plate is eight and a half inches further from the mercury than the nearest point; even this is not the variation there would necessarily be, were we to adopt the angle of 45 deg. as urged by Daguerre.

Among our principal professors, the beveltop will not be found in use where the large plates are used. Should any one feel desirous to test more minutely the effect produced by a bevel top bath, I would suggest to them to place a frame, so constructed as to hold three sixth size plates, and fit it to the top of the bath, and so arrange it with openings that the plates may be placed, one at the nearest point of the mercury, the second midway, and the third to the greatest distance, and by placing the plates over at one and the same time, the experimenter will be enabled to judge if there exists a difference in the developing. In speaking of the above, reference is had to baths to the ordinary heights used by operators.

We will now proceed to examine the effect produced by mercurial vapor upon the plate at different lengths of exposure. In some investigations which I have made upon the appearance of the Daguerreotype impressions when developed over mercury at 90 deg. C. (194 deg. F.), the following was the result. Plates, coated and exposed to light in our usual manner of operating, produced on exposure of

1/2 minute, whole impression, deep blue.

1 minute, ashy and flat; no shadows; linen, deep blue.

1 1/2 minute, coarse and spongy; shadows, muddy; drapery, dirty reddish brown.

2 minutes, shallow or watery; shadows, yellowish; drapery, brown.

2 1/4 minutes, soft; face, scarcely white; shadows, neutral; drapery, fine dark brown linen somewhat blue.

2 1/2 minutes, clear and pearly; shadows, clear and positive, of a purple tint; drapery, jet black, with the dark shades slightly frosted with mercury.

2 3/4 to 3 minutes, hard and chalky; shadows, harsh; drapery, roughened, and misty with excess of mercury.

The foregoing results will be found general.

There are numerous opinions among our operators in regard to the quantity of mercury necessary for a bath. As regards this, I need only say, similar results occur when two pounds or two ounces are used, but the quantity generally employed is about a quarter of a pound. I am of the opinion that one ounce will answer as well as a larger quantity. I know of no better proof in favor of a small quantity than that presented in the following incident. Several years since, an operator (Mr. Senter, of Auburn, N.Y.) of my acquaintance, was requested to go several miles to take a Daguerreotype portrait of a deceased person. He packed up his apparatus and proceeded over a rough road for some distance to the house where he was to take the portrait, and arranging his apparatus, with all the expedition which the occasion required, after having everything in usual order (as was supposed), he proceeded and took some ten or twelve very superior impressions. They were fine, clear, and well developed. After taking the number ordered, he proceeded to repack his apparatus, and to his surprise, when he took up the bottle he carried the mercury in, he found it still filled, and none in the bath, except only such particles as had adhered to the sides, after dusting and being jolted for several miles over the rough road. From this it will be seen that a very little mercury will suffice to develop fine proofs. I saw some of the impressions referred to above, and they were certainly well developed, and very superior specimens of our art.

Removing the Coating.–After the impression has been developed over the mercurial vapor, the next step is to remove the sensitive coating. For this purpose the following solution is used:

Put about two ounces of hyposulphite of soda in a pint of water, which should always be filtered before using. A convenient way of doing this is to have two bottles, and a large funnel with a sponge pressed into the neck of it; or, what is better, some filtering paper folded in it. The solution in one bottle, the funnel is placed in the other, and the picture held over it; when the solution is poured on the plate, it runs from it into the filter, and is always ready for use.

It is best that the washing be done immediately on the plate coming from the mercury bath. If allowed to stand long with the coating on, it assumes a very dark tint–as the operation of the light continues, though less active than while exposed in the camera, and destroys that brightness which would otherwise have been obtained. It is preferable to wash and gild a picture without it first being dried; yet when there are doubts of its giving satisfaction, there would sometimes be a saving by drying and getting the decision of the subject before gilding, as this last injures the plate for another impression. First, light your spirit-lamp, then with your plyers take the plate by the lower right-hand corner, holding it in such a manner that the plyers will form in a line with the upper left-hand corner; pour on, slowly, the hyposulphite solution, slightly agitating the plate, until all the coating is dissolved off; then rinse off with clean water, and if it is not to be gilded, dry by holding the plate perpendicular with the bottom left-hand corner lowest, and applying the blaze of the spirit-lamp to the back, at the same time blowing gently downward on the face of the plate.

The hyposulphite solution should be often filtered through a sponge, and it will answer for a great number of washings. Yet it is observed that the mercury collects in this solution in small globules; these often come in contact with the plate, causing white spots, which spoil the impression. They should be guarded against, and the solution renewed. Again, in order to prevent streaks or scum on the surface of the plate, it is necessary that the coating should be removed with a good degree of uniformity. I find in practice that the hyposulphite of soda in our market varies much as regards strength, and consequently the rule to be adopted is to make a solution of sufficient strength to remove the coating in about ten seconds. I am aware that it may be said that this strong solution would have a tendency to injure the impression by destroying in a measure the sharpness of outline. To meet this, it need only to be said that the preventive is, to not let the solution rest on the surface of the plate for a longer time than is absolutely necessary, and then it should be drenched copiously with water; hence a chemical action upon the image is prevented and the general operation facilitated. This plan is adopted by our first operators with the greatest success.

If the operator should allow the hyposulphite solution to run over the plate unevenly, it is quite likely that white or blue streaks would result. These it is impossible to remove without injury to the impression. Some, in order to prevent this, breathe over the surface, thus moistening it and putting it in a condition to receive the solution with greater uniformity. The plate should be well washed with water before gilding.

Gilding, or Fixing the Image.–The next process to be given is that for fixing the image on the plate. This is done by precipitating a thin film of gold over the surface and is productive of the most brilliant effect when prepared immediately after the plate has been washed with water after the application of the hyposulphite solution, and before the plate has been allowed to dry. When, however, the plate has been dried and allowed to stand for any time, before gilding, the hyposulphite wash should be applied as at first, in order to destroy any chemical coating that may have been formed on exposure of the plate to the air. For gilding the larger plates, we have a gilding stand so constructed that the plate can be put on a perfect level. In practice, I prefer holding the plate with nippers, fastened at one corner. Hold the plate in the same manner as in removing the coating; pour on the gilding, newly filtered, until the surface is wholly covered, and with the blaze of the spirit lamp, at least three inches high, apply it to the back of the plate, moving it about, that the surface may be heated with as much uniformity as possible. Continuing this operation, the surface will generally become covered with small yellow bubbles which soon disappear, leaving the image clear and distinct.

It is advisable to make use of a lamp having a sufficiently strong flame to produce the effect in a few minutes. If after a first heating, it is found that the impression can admit of a greater degree of intensity, it might be heated anew; but that is seldom necessary, and often by trying to do too, well, the operator, if he persists in heating certain parts of the plate, may find the liquid dry up just above the flame, and inevitably cause a stain*; or else the blacks are covered with a film, or even the coating of gold may suddenly exfoliate, when small particles are detached from the plate. The impression is then entirely spoiled, but the plate may be re-polished.

* This can be remedied, however, if it is immediately washed over with the same solution that is on the plate, so that the surface shall not become cool; continue for a short time to apply the lamp under, and agitate the plate slightly, and it will soon be free from all imperfections and give a fine clear tone.

It is not unfrequent that the surface assumes a dark, cloudy appearance. This is generally the best sign that the gilding will bring out the impression with the greatest degree of distinctness. Soon, the clouds gradually begin to disappear, and, “like a thing of life” stands forth the image, clothed with all the brilliancy and clearness that the combined efforts of nature and art can produce. When in the operator’s judgment the operation has arrived at the highest state of perfection, rinse suddenly, with an abundance of clean water, and dry as before described.

When an impression is dark, the gilding process may be longer continued; but when light, it should be gilded quickly, as lengthening the time tends to bleach the impression and make it too white. The cause of this appears to be, that with a moderate heat the chlorine is merely set free from the gold, and remaining in the solution, instead of being driven off, with its powerful bleaching, properties, it immediately acts upon the shades of the picture. A dark impression can thus, by a low heat, long-continued, be made quite light. To procure the best effect, then, heat suddenly with a large blaze, and judging it to be at the maximum, cool as suddenly as possible.

When the hyposulphite of gold is used instead of the chloride, a less heat should be employed.

Coloring Daguerreotypes.–Of all the so-called improvements in the Daguerreotype, the coloring is the least worthy of notice. Yet the operator is often, in fact most generally, called upon to hide an excellent specimen under paint. I can conceive of nothing more perfect in a Daguerreotype than a finely-developed image, with clearness of lights and shadows, possessing the lively tone resulting from good gilding. Such pictures, however, are not always had, and then color may perform the part of hiding the imperfections. We present the following method as given in Willat’s Manual:

“Daguerreotype portraits are now commonly met with beautifully colored; but the coloring is a process requiring great care and judgment, and many good pictures are spoiled in fruitless experiments. Several different methods of coloring have been proposed. The simplest mode appears to be that of using dry colors prepared in the following manner: A little of the color required, very finely ground, is thrown into a glass containing water, in which a few grains of gum arabic have been dissolved. After standing a few moments, the mixture may be passed through bibulous paper, and the residue perfectly dried for use. The principal colors used are Carmine, Chrome Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine and White; boxes fitted with sets of colors properly prepared, may be obtained of the dealers, and include Carmine, White, Lilac, Sky Blue, Pink, Yellow, Flesh color, Orange, Brown, Purple, Light Green, Dark Green and Blue. With a few colors, however, all the rest may be made thus: Orange, by Yellow and Red; Purple, with Blue and Red; Green, Blue and Yellow; Brown, with Umber, Carmine and Lamp Black; Scarlet, Carmine and Light Red. While it is true that a little color may relieve the dark metallic look of some Daguerreotypes, it must not be concealed that the covering of the fine delicate outline and exquisite gradations of tone of a good picture with such a coating, is barbarous and unartistic.

“The prevaling taste is, however, decidedly for colored proofs, and the following directions will assist the amateur in ministering to this perverted taste, should he be so inclined. The coloring should commence with the face, and the flesh tint must be stippled on (not rubbed) with a small camel’s-hair brush, beginning from the centre of the cheek, taking great care not to go over the outline of the face, and also not to have too much color in the brush; the eyes and eyebrows must not be touched with color. After the flesh color is applied, take a piece of very soft cotton and pass it very gently backwards and forwards over the face, so as to soften down the color, and then apply the carmine to give the required tint. For men, the darker tints should predominate, and for women the warmer. Very light hair may be improved by a slight tint of brown, or yellow and brown, according to the color. In coloring the drapery, the same care must be used. No rules can be laid down for all the different colors required, and the amateur had better obtain the assistance or advice of some one accustomed to the use of colors. A little white with a dash of blue or a little silver, will improve white linen, lace, etc. The jewelry may be touched with gold or silver from the shells, moistened with distilled water, and laid on with a fine-pointed sable-hair brush.

“Brilliants may be represented by picking the plate with the point of a pin or knife.”



Coloring Back Grounds–Transparent ditto–Gilding Dissolvent Solution for removing Specks–Solarized Impression–To Purify Water– Cleaning Mercury–Adhesive Paper–Black Stain for Apparatus– Sealing Wax for Bottles–Rouge–Rotten Stone–Potassa Solution– Hyposulphite Solution–Substitute for do.–Gilding Solution– Solution for increasing the Brilliancy of the Daguerreotype– Bleaching Solution;–Cold Gilding–Neutralizing Agents– Buff Dryer–Keeping Buffs in order–Cleaning Buckskins– Reflector for taking Views.

To Color Back-grounds–To obtain a properly colored back ground is a matter of no little importance to the Daguerreotype operator. I had nearly exhausted all patience, and tried the skill of painters to obtain a back-ground that would be suitable to my purpose; but all to no avail. At last I adopted the following method, and at a cost of coloring of twenty-five cents, can now produce a back-ground far more valuable than those which had cost five dollars before.

Take common earth paint, such as is used in painting roofs; mix this with water to about the consistency of cream; then to four quarts of this mixture add about one pint of glue water (common glue dissolved in water, also about as thick as cream). This last will cause the paint to adhere to the cloth, to which it is applied with a common white-wash brush. By applying the brush on the coating while it is wet, it may be so blended that not a line can be seen, and a perfectly smooth color of any shade can be obtained. The shade of color I use is a light reddish-brown. Tripoli, rotten-stone, or any earthy matter, may be applied in the same manner.

Transparent or Invisible Back-ground.–I give this as originally published in my System of Photography, 1849:

“Take a large woollen blanket with long nap, the longer and rougher it is the finer will be the effect produced; stretch it on a frame of sufficient size, and suspend the frame at the centre of the upper end by a string fastened to a nail in the ceiling, from three to five feet back of the sitter. Having arranged this, fasten another string to the side of the frame, and while the operation is going on in the camera, swing the back-ground from right to left, continuing this during the whole time of sitting, and you have a clear “transparent” back-ground, which throws the image out in bold relief, and renders the surface of the plate invisible. If equalled at all it is only by atmospheric back-ground. I consider it to be the best ever known, and think it needs but to be tried to afford satisfactory proof that it is so. Although used by few before, since the first edition of this work at least two thirds of the operators have adopted its use; for any one can at once understand the principle and the effect which it produces.”

It may be added that a motion imparted to to any back-ground where softness is desired, produces an excellent effect.

Gilding Dissolvent.–To one quart of muriatic acid add as much oxide of iron (common iron rust) as it will dissolve in two days. This may be done by putting in the oxide in excess. It should be frequently shook, and when wanted for bottling it should be allowed to stand in order to settle. When this is done the solution may be poured off, and reduced by adding to it an equal quantity of water; then it is ready for use. This constitutes a gilding dissolvent now in our market.

Solution for Removing Specks.–There is probably no one cause of complaint so general as “what makes those black specks?” There are several causes which produce them, and probably the most general are dust, rouge, or a spray of moisture on the plate. It this be the case, there is no solution which can remove them, as they have prevented a chemical action with the silver, and their removal would only expose the surface of the plate which in itself would afford a contrast with the impression. Another and less dangerous source of these specks is organic matter contained in the solution employed in dissolving the chemicals, or the water in washing. much of the hyposulphite of soda in market contains a sulphuret, which, coming in contact with the silver surface, immediately causes oxidation. Such spots, as well also as most all others found on the plate after it has been exposed in the camera, can be removed by the following, solution: To one ounce of water add a piece of cyanide of potassium the size of a pea; filter the solution and apply by pouring it on the surface of the plate. In all cases the plate should first be wet with water. Apply a gentle heat, and soon the spots disappear, leaving the impression clear and free from all organic matter.

In the absence of cyanide of potassium, a solution of pure hyposulphite of soda will answer as a fair substitute.

To Redeem, a Solarized Impression.–The Daguerreotype plate, prepared in the ordinary manner, should be exposed in the camera a sufficient time to solarize the impression. Then, before it be exposed to the vapor of mercury, expose it for a very brief period to the vapor of either chlorine, bromine or iodine. Then expose over mercury, as usual. I have produced singularly interesting results by this process.

To Purify Water.–Filter the water well, and then add about three drops of nitric acid to the pint. This can be used as absolutely pure water, but I would recommend the use of distilled water as preferable.

Cleaning Mercury.–Make a small bag of chamois skin, pour in the mercury, and squeeze it through the leather. Repeat this several times, and filter by means of a funnel made of paper, with a very small aperture, through which it will escape and leave the particles of dust, or other substances, in the paper. A paper with a pinhole through it will answer as well, and it is less difficult to make.

Adhesive Paper.–Take gum arabic, four ounces, put it in a wide-mouthed bottle and pour on water about one-third above the gum. Add half ounce of isinglass, or fish glue, and a small piece of loaf sugar. Let all dissolve, and spread over French letter paper, with a brush or piece of sponge. If once spreading is not enough, perform the same operation a second time.

Black Stain for Apparatus.–Dissolve gum shellac in alcohol, or procure shellac varnish at the druggists’, stir in lampblack, and apply with a sponge or bit of rag. This will adhere to metal, as well as wood, and is used for the inside of camera, tubes, etc.

Sealing Wax for Bottles.–Melt together six parts rosin and one beeswax, and add a small quantity of lampblack; or, if red is preferable, add red lead. Common white wax is best, as most chemicals act less upon it.

When bottles containing bromine are to be sealed, it is well to grease the stopper. This, however, only when the bottle is in frequent use, for if it were to be sent by any conveyance it would be likely to fly out.

Rouge.–The method employed by Lord Ross is probably unsurpassed in the production of rouge. He has given his process as follows:

“I prepare the peroxide of iron by precipitation with water of ammonia, from a pure dilute solution of sulphate of iron; the precipitate is washed, pressed in a screw press till nearly dry, and exposed to a heat which in the dark appears a dull, low red. The only points of importance are, that the sulphate of iron should be pure, that the water of ammonia should be decidedly in excess, and that the heat should not exceed that I have described. The color will be a bright crimson inclining to yellow. I have tried both potash and soda, pure, instead of water of ammonia, but after washing with some degree of care, a trace of the alkali still remained, and the peroxide was of an ochrey color, till overheated, and did not polish properly.”

Care should be observed to apply rouge in a dry state to the surface of the plate.

I would remark, that so far as my experience has gone, I consider good rouge fully equal to any other polishing, material for the last or finishing polishing; consequently I shall not take up my space in enumerating any of the great variety that find few advocates.

Why Rouge is to be preferred.–“Because it burnishes better, and because it assists in fixing the layer of gold, rendering it less susceptible of being removed in scales when heated too much.”

Rotten Stone.–“Purchase the best ground rotten stone of the druggist, put a few ounces at a time in a wedgewood or porcelain mortar, with plenty of clean rain water. This should have about forty drops of nitric acid to the quart. Grind well, and after letting the mortar stand two minutes, pour into a third. After remaining undisturbed eight minutes, finally pour off into a fourth to settle. Rinse back the sediment in the second and third, and grind over with a new batch. Repeat the operation till you have all in the fourth vessel. Let this stand several hours, and pour off the water very carefully. Set the deposit in the sun, or by a stove to dry. When perfectly dry, pulverize, and it is ready for use. With a little trouble you will obtain in this way a much better article than can generally be bought of dealers. For the last washing, alcohol, or a mixture of alcohol and water, is preferable.”

Potassa Solution.–The use of a solution of potassa in the preparation of the plate was suggested in the early history of the Daguerreotype. It was thought to possess some peculiar property for improving the tone of the impression. It is used for moistening the rotten stone in polishing the plate, and may be prepared by putting about an ounce and a half of alcohol in a close bottle, and add half a stick of caustic potash. This will soon become of a deep red color. For use, fill your small bottle, having a quill in the cork, with alcohol, and add a few drops of the above, or enough to change it to a bright orange or saffron color.

A Substitute for the Hyposulphite Solution.–M. DAGUERRE recommends the use of a solution of salt water for removing the coating off the plate. I found this of some service at one time during my travels. My hyposulphite bottle got broke and its contents lost, so as only to leave enough for preparing gilding. I resorted to the use of salt solution, and found it to answer well. Make a saturated solution of salt in water. First wash the plate with clear water; then immerse it in the saline solution, when it should be agitated, and the coating will soon disappear. Another process with a salt solution of half the strength of the above is very interesting and effectual. The plate having been dipped into cold water, is placed in a solution of common salt, of moderate strength; it lies without being acted upon at all; but if it be now touched on one corner with a piece of zinc, which has been scraped bright, the yellow coat of iodine moves off like a wave and disappears. It is a very pretty process. The zinc and silver forming together a voltaic pair, with the salt water intervening, oxidation of the zinc takes place, and the silver surface commences to evolve hydrogen gas; while this is in a nascent condition it decomposes the film of iodide of silver, giving rise to the production of hydriodic acid, which is very soluble in water, and hence instantly removed.

This process, therefore, differs from that with hyposulphite. The latter acts by dissolving the iodide of silver, the former by decomposing it. It is necessary not to leave the zinc in contact too long, or it deposits stains, and in large plates the contact should be made at the four corners successively, to avoid this accident.

Gilding Solution.–To one pint of pure rain or distilled water add fifteen grains of pure chloride of gold, and to another pint add sixty grains of hyposulphite of soda. When dissolved, pour the gold solution into the hyposulphite by small quantities, shaking well after each addition. The soda solution must not be poured into the gold, as the gold would be immediately decomposed, and the solution turn black, and be unfit for use.

Some operators add muriate of potash and other substances, but these do not possess any advantage except in cases where it is necessary to bleach the solarized portions of the impression, and when such is the case, chloride of sodium (common salt) is probably as effective and is the most convenient. Add about a teaspoonful to two ounces of the gilding.

Solution, for Increasing the Brilliancy of the Daguerreotype.–This solution will have the effect to thoroughly cleanse the surface of the gilded plate and excite a powerful influence on the general character of the impression. To a solution of three ounces of water, in which is dissolved a quarter of an ounce of cyanide of potassium, add one teaspoonful of a solution containing six ounces of water and half an ounce of each pure carbonate of potash, alum, common salt, gallic acid, sulphate of copper, and purified borax. While the plate is wet, pour on a little, and heat it with a powerful blaze. The effect will be quickly produced, in from three to fifteen seconds. Rinse and dry, as in the gilding.

Bleaching Solution.–Make a saturated solution of muriate of ammonia (sal ammoniac) in pure water, and filter through paper. Reduce with an equal quantity of water when used. When the linen or any other portion of the impression is badly solarized, after removing the coating, rinse with water; then pour this upon the surface in the same manner as the gilding solution. If the solarization be very deep, apply the lamp beneath, and warm the plate a trifle. Now pour off, and, without rinsing, apply the gilding. The whole operation must be quickly performed, or the chlorine soon attacks the shades of the picture. When properly done, however, the solarized parts are restored to a clear, transparent white.

Electro, or Cold Gilding.–This process I have adopted, and it produces exceedingly beautiful impressions for the stereoscope, adding a great charm to the pleasing effect of that instrument. It also possesses a pretty and curious effect on views. It is easy of trial, and may be used by dissolving one gramme of chloride of gold in half a litre of ordinary water, and thirty grammes of hyposulphite of soda in another half litre of similar water; then pour the solution of chloride of gold into that of soda, by little and little, agitating it exactly as in M. Fizeau’s preparation, of which there is but a variation.

When you wish to use it, pour some into a plate, or any other vessel of the same kind, sufficient to cover the proof; then, after having added to it a drop of ammonia, immerse the plate in it as soon as you take it out of the mercury-box, after having wiped its back and edges, and agitate the mixture quickly from right to left, so as to dissolve rapidly the coating of iodide of silver as usual. As soon as the plate appears white, cease all rapid motion, but continue to give it a slight undulating one; for if it were allowed to remain still for only a few minutes, the proof would be clouded. By little and little, the surface of the plate takes a yellow tint, which darkens more and more, approaching to bistre. You stop therefore, at the color you wish; and when the proof has been washed and dried, in the manner previously explained, it will be found to be fixed, without any stain, with a limpid surface, and an extraordinary warm tone. If you were to augment the proportions of the ammonia or chloride of gold, the operation would progress much quicker, but then the middle of the proof would be always much clearer than towards the border. The mixture may be used several times without being renewed. It does not, however, give such a beautiful color to the impression as when it is newly prepared. By communicating to the vessel containing the solution a continual motion, the impression, when once immersed, will be fixed. During that time, and while attending to anything else, watch its color; and at the end of ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, take it out of the bath and dry it.

Agent for Neutralizing Bromine, Chlorine, and Iodine Vapors.– Aqua ammonia, sprinkled about the chemical or coating room, will soon neutralize all the vapor in the atmosphere of either chlorine, bromine, or iodine. No operator should be without, at least, a six-ounce bottle filled with ammonia. A little of its vapor about the camera-box has a decided and happy effect. Burnt coffee, pulverized, has also the property of destroying the vapors of the above chemicals, as also almost any other agent employed about the Daguerreotype room. Its deodorizing properties are such that if brought in contact with air filled with the odor of decomposing meat, it will instantly destroy all disagreeable smell. It can easily be used in the Daguerreotype room by placing a little of the raw bean, finely pulverized, on an old plate, and roasting it over the spirit-lamp.

Buff Dryer.–There are various methods for keeping buffs dry and free from dust. Some place a sheet of iron against the wall at an angle sufficient to put a lamp between it and the wall, and then let the buff rest against the top of the sheet. By this method the buff is for its full length close to the heated iron, and at the same time exposed to the heated atmosphere and any dust that may be free. I would recommend some arrangement by which the buff would be inclosed. I have found the following to answer the purpose well, which is a box of sheet iron twenty inches long, eight wide and five high, with one end left open and the other closed; the cover is made of the same material, with the edges bent over to go on and off. There are several wires running through the centre of the sides, which it is necessary to cover with cloth or paper to absorb all the moisture that may be made by applying the heat, and the buffs are put in and taken out at the open end. In order that the heat may be as nearly uniform as possible, an iron bar one inch wide, eighteen inches long and one half inch thick, is so bent that the centre is one quarter inch from the bottom of the box, and that at least two inches of each end come in contact with the bottom; this being riveted on the bottom, and a lamp with a small blaze applied to the centre of the bar of iron. This will constitute one of the best and cheapest buff dryers in use. It may be suspended from the wall by placing wires around it, or it may stand upon legs. Perhaps a more convenient plan is to place it under the workbench in a similar position to a drawer. One precaution is necessary: when first heating the dryer, apply but a very gentle heat. This will prevent an accumulation of moisture, which would otherwise pass off in steam, coming in contact with the buff, thus causing a dampness. Another caution: never have the temperature of the air in the heater more than ten degrees above that which surrounds it.

When wheels are used, they should be encased in a sheet iron or wood case. All those made for our market are provided in this respect.

Keeping Buffs in Order.–This is one of the most important objects to arrest the attention of the operator. Every buff is more or less liable to get out of order by dust falling upon or coming in contact with the polishing powder employed in cleaning the plate. The edge of every plate should be thoroughly wiped and freed from any material that may adhere while cleaning. I have adopted the following method, which proves highly successful:

Rub the buff leather, holding the face down, with the sharp edge of a pair of shears or a piece of glass. This brings out any portion of the skin which may have become matted from any moisture, and also takes out any substance imbedded in it, and prevents it from scratching. Then, with a stiff brush, rub the buff well, and it will be found to work well. This same process employ on wheels and hand buffs every morning, or oftener, as occasion requires.

Preparing Buffs.–Two of these are necessary. That part of the stick to be covered should be about eighteen or twenty inches long, and three wide, and made crowning on the face from one end to the other, about one half inch. Before covering, these are to be padded with two or three thicknesses of Canton flannel. The buff should not be too hard, but padded with flannel, so that by drawing it over the plate, it may touch across the surface. The only proper material for buffs is prepared buckskin; and if prepared in a proper manner, this needs nothing but to be tacked upon the stick. There are several varieties of wheels employed; the one most generally adopted is Lewis’ patent, which consists of several varieties of wheels. Any operator can make a suitable wheel on the same plan of a turning lathe.

To Clean Buckskins.–When the operator is compelled to purchase an unprepared buckskin, the following is a good process for cleaning it: There is always in the buckskin leather that is purchased, more or less of an oily matter, which is acquired in its preparation, sometimes even amounting, to a third of its weight. The following is the mode of ridding it of this noxious ingredient: Dissolve, in about six or seven quarts of filtered water, about five ounces of potash; when dissolved, wash with the solution an ordinary buckskin; when it has been well stirred in the liquid, the water becomes very soapy, owing to the combination of the potash with the oily matters contained in the skin. Throw away this solution and use some fresh water without potash and rather tepid; change it several times until it remains quite limpid. Then gently stretch the skin to dry in an airy shaded place. When thoroughly dried, rub it well between the hands. It thus becomes very pliant and velvet-like.

Reflectors for Taking Views.–There have been excellent cameras introduced for taking views, but the time of exposure, which is increased in proportion to the focal length, is considered an objection; consequently many adhere to the old plan of using the speculum, or rather, substitute a mirror. I now have one which I have used for several years and find it equal to any article of the kind have ever tried. One is easily made by a tin man, at a trifling expense. Procure a piece of best plate looking-glass, two and a half by five inches for a quarter, or four by eight for a half-sized camera; put a piece of pasteboard of the same size on the back, to protect the silvering, and stick around the edge in the same manner as in putting up a picture. Take a sheet of tin for the large size, or a half sheet for the other; place the glass crosswise in the centre; bend the ends of the tin over the edge of the glass and turn them back so as to form a groove to hold the glass, and still allow it to slide out and in. These ends of the tin must be turned out flaring, that they may not reflect in the glass.

Have a tin band about an inch wide made to fit close on the end of the camera tube; place it on, and taking the tin containing the glass, bring it to an angle of forty-five degrees with the tube, extending nearly the whole length of the glass in front of the lenses; lap the loose ends of the tin on each side of the tin rim, and having your camera turned on the side to throw the view lengthwise, arrange the exact angle by examining the image on the ground-glass. When you have it exactly right, hold it while it is soldered fast to the band. Take out your glass and stain the tin black, to prevent reflection.



Bromine and its Compounds–Iodine and its Compounds– Chlorine and its compounds–Cyanide of Potassium– Hyposulphite of Soda–Hyposulphite of Gold–Nitric Acid– Nitro-Muriatic Acid–Hydrochloric Acid–Hydrofluoric Acid– Sulphuric Acid–Accelerating Substances–Liquid Sensitives– Dry Sensitives, etc., etc.


An article so extensively used in the practice of the Daguerreotypic art as Bromine, is deserving of especial attention, and accordingly every person should endeavor to make himself familiar with its properties and applications.

History.–This element was discovered in 1826 by M. Balard, in the mother-liquor, or residue of the evaporation of sea-water. It is named from its offensive odor (bromos, bad odor). In nature it is found in sea-water combined with alkaline bases, and in the waters of many saline springs and inland seas. The salt springs of Ohio abound in the compounds of bromine, and it is found in the waters of the Dead Sea. The only use which has been made of bromine in the arts is in the practice of photography. It is also used in medicine In a chemical point of view it is very interesting, from its similarity in properties, and the parallelism of its compounds to chlorine and iodine.

Dr. D. Alter, of Freeport, Pa., is the only American manufacturer, and furnishes all of the “American Bromine.” Yet we understand much purporting to be of German manufacture is prepared from that made in Freeport. This is done by individuals in this city, who get well paid for the deception.

For the successful application of bromine as an accelerating agent, we are indebted to Mr. John Goddard of London, who at the time was associated with Mr. John Johnson, now a resident of this city.

Preparation.–The mother-liquor containing bromides is treated with a current of chlorine gas, which decomposes these salts, setting the bromine free, which at once colors the liquid to a reddish brown color. Ether is added and shaken with the liquid, until all the bromine is taken up by the ether, which acquires a fine red color and separates from the saline liquid.

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Solution of caustic potash is then added to the ethereal solution, forming bromide of potassium and bromate of potash. This solution is evaporated to dryness, and the salts being collected are heated in a glass retort with sulphuric acid and a little oxide of manganese. The bromine is distilled, and is condensed in a cooled receiver, into a red liquid.

Properties.–Bromine somewhat resembles chlorine in its odor, but is more offensive. At common temperatures it is a very volatile liquid, of a deep red color, and with a specific gravity of 3, being one of the heaviest fluids known. Sulphuric acid floats on its surface, and is used to prevent its escape. At zero it freezes into a brittle solid. A few drops in a large flask will fill the whole vessel when slightly warmed, with blood red vapors, which have a density of nearly 6.00, air being one. It is a non-conductor of electricity, and suffers no change of properties from heat, or any other of the imponderable agents. It dissolves slightly in water, forming a bleaching solution.

Chloride of Bromine.–This as an accelerating agent is by many considered superior

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to the other Bromide combinations. It can be readily prepared by passing a current of chlorine through a vessel containing bromine. A mixture of two parts muriatic acid and one of black oxide of manganese, should be put into a flask having a bent tube to conduct the chlorine vapor into the bromine in another vessel. This last vessel should also be supplied with a bent tube for conducting the combined vapors with a third vessel or receiver. On the application of the heat from a spirit lamp to the bottom of the flask, a current of chlorine gas will be disengaged, and pass into the bromine, when it readily combines, and gives off a vapor, which, when condensed in the third vessel, forms a volatile yellowish-red liquid. It is best, even at ordinary temperature, to place the receiver in an ice bath. For manner of using, see farther on, under head of Accelerators.

Bromides.–A bromide treated with oil of vitriol, disengages chlorohyadic acid; but vapors of bromine are constantly disengaged, at the same time imparting a brown color to the gas. If the bromide be treated with a mixture of sulphuric acid, and peroxide of manganese, bromide is only disengaged. A solution of a bromide gives, with of nitrate

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silver, a light yellowish white precipitate of bromide of silver, which is insoluble in an excess of acid, and readily dissolves in ammonia. The precipitated bromide is colored by light like the chloride, but is immediately tinged brown, while the chloride assumes at first a violet hue. The bromides, in solution, are readily decomposed and chloride being set free, colors the liquid brown.

In the whole range of heliographic chemicals there is probably not another collection less understood and being so productive of interesting investigation as the bromides.

Bromide of Iodine.–M. de Valicours furnishes us with the best method for preparing this mixture:

“Into a bottle of the capacity of about two ounces, pour thirty or forty drops of bromine, the precise quantity not being of importance. Then add, grain by grain, as much iodine as the bromine will dissolve till quite saturated. This point is ascertained when some grains of the iodine remain undissolved. They may remain in the bottle, as they will not interfere with the success of the preparation.

“The bromide of iodine thus prepared, from its occupying so small a space, can very easily be carried, but in this state it is much too concentrated to be used. When it is to be employed, pour a small quantity, say fifteen drops, by means of a dropping-tube, into a bottle containing about half an ounce of filtered river water. It will easily be understood that the bromide of iodine can be used with a greater or less quantity of water without altering the proportion which exists between the bromine and iodine.”

This article forms a very good dry accelerator, and is by some persons thought superior to all others, as it works with great uniformity, and is less liable to scum the plate in coating at high temperatures, or when the thermometer indicates a heat above 60 deg.

Bromide of Potassium–Is prepared by mixing bromine and a solution of pure potass together, and evaporating to dryness; it crystallizes in small cubes, and dissolves readily in water. This agent is extensively employed in the paper and glass processes.

Bromide of Lime. This the principal accelerator used in the American practice, and is the best of all dry combinations at present employed. There are many reasons why the dry is advantageous; these are too familiar to repeat.

“The bromide of lime may be produced by allowing bromine vapor to act upon hydrate of lime for some hours. The most convenient method of doing this is to place some of the hydrate at the bottom of the flask, and then put some bromine into a glass capsule supported a little above the lime. As heat is developed during the combination, it is better to place the lower part of the flask in water at the temperature of about 50 deg. Fah.; the lime gradually assumes a beautiful scarlet color, and acquires an appearance very similar to that of the red iodide of mercury. The chloro-iodide of lime may be formed in the same manner; it has a deep brown color. Both these compounds, when the vapor arising from them is not too intense, have an odor analogous to that of bleaching powder, and quite distinguishable from chlorine, bromine, or iodine alone.”

Farther on, I have given, in connection with accelerators, a process I adopt, which is far less tedious and equally reliable.

Bromide of Silver–May be formed by pouring an alkaline bromide into a solution of nitrate of silver, in the shape of a white, slightly yellowish precipitate, which is insoluble in water and nitric acid, but readily dissolves in ammonia and the alkaline hyposulphites. Chlorine easily decomposes bromide of silver, and transforms it into chloride.

M. Biot has expressed his opinion, that it is not possible to find any substance more sensitive to light than the bromide of silver. This is true to a certain extent, but in combination with deoxidizing agents, other preparations have a decided superiority over the pure bromide of silver.

Bromide of Gold–Is readily prepared by adding a little bromide to the brown gold of the assayers, and allowing it to remain some time under water, or assisting its action by a gentle heat. It forms a salt of a bright crimson color, but in its general properties is precisely similar to the chloride used in gilding.

Bromide of Magnesia–Is prepared in the same manner as bromide of lime.

This mixture is particularly adapted for hot climates, and is used in this country by some few who regard its use as a valuable secret.

Bromide of Starch.–This preparation is much used, but not alone. It is combined with lime by putting about one part in measure of starch to four of lime. It is prepared by adding bromine to finely pulverized starch, in the same manner as bromide of lime. (See Accelerators.)

Experiments with Bromine.–Place in a very flaring wine glass a few drops (say ten) of bromine, then place a small piece of phosphorus about one-twentieth of an inch in diameter. Place the latter on the end of a stick from five to ten feet in length. So place it that the phosphorus can be dropped into the glass, and in an instant combustion giving a loud report will be the result.

b. Expose a daguerreotype plate to the vapor of bromine, it assumes a leaden-grey color, which, blackens by light very readily. Exposing this to mercury will not produce any decided action upon the lights. Immerse it in the solution of the muriate of soda, and the parts unacted upon by light becomes a jet black, while the parts on which the light has acted will be dissolved off, leaving a clean coating of silver. This will be a most decided black picture on a white ground.

c. Expose an impressioned plate, that has been sufficient time in the camera to become solarized, to the vapors of bromine, and the impression will be fully developed and exhibit no signs of solarization. The exposure over the bromine most be very brief. Chlorine or iodine will produce the same result. The latter is preferable.

Again, should the impressioned plate be exposed too long over the vapor of bromine, the impression would be rendered wholly insensitive to the mercurial vapor. Hence this method is resorted to for restoring the sensibility of the plate when there is reason to believe that the impression would not be a desirable one; as, for example, if a likeness of a child be wanted, and it had moved before the plate had been sufficiently long exposed in the camera, the plate may be restored to its original sensitiveness by re-coating over bromine, as above, thus saving the time and labor of re-preparing the plate for the chemicals.

d. If by accident (we would not advise a trial to any extent of this), you should inhale a quantity of the vapor of bromine, immediately inhale the vapor of aqua ammonia, as this neutralizes the dangerous effect of the bromine vapor. every operator should be provided with a bottle of ammonia, as a little sprinkled about the chemical room soon disinfects it of all iodine or bromine vapor, and also tends to facilitate the operation in the camera.


History of Iodine.–This is one of the simple chemical bodies which was discovered in 1812 by M. Courtois, of Paris, a manufacturer of saltpetre, who found it in the mother-water of that salt. Its properties were first studied into by M. Gay Lussac. It partakes much of the nature of chlorine and bromine. Its affinity for other substances is so powerful as to prevent it from existing in an isolated state. It occurs combined with potassium and sodium in many mineral waters, such as the brine spring of Ashby-de-la-Zouche, and other strongly saline springs. This combination exists sparingly in sea-water, abundantly in many species of fucus or sea-weed, and in the kelp made from them. It is an ingredient in the Salt Licks, saline, and brine springs of this country, especially of those in the valley of the Mississippi. It is sparingly found in fresh-water plants, as well also in coal, and in combination with numerous other bodies.

Fermented liquors contain iodine; wine, cider, and perry are more iodureted than the average of fresh waters. Milk is richer in iodine than wine; independently of the soil, with which it varies, the proportion of iodine in milk is in the inverse ratio of the abundance of that secretion. Eggs (not the shell) contain much iodine. A fowl’s egg weighing 50 gr. contains more iodine than a quart of cow’s milk. Iodine exists in arable land. It is abundant in sulphur, iron, and manganese ores, and sulphuret of mercury: but rare in gypsum, chalk, calcareous and silicious earths. Any attempt to extract iodine economically should be made with the plants of the ferro-iodureted fresh waters. Most of the bodies regarded by the therapeutists as pectoral and anti-scrofulous are rich in iodine.

It is probably to the application of this body that we owe the discovery of the daguerreotype. There is no record of thep recise date when Daguerre commenced experimenting with iodine, but by the published correspondence between him and M. Neipce, his partner, it was previous to 1833. There is no doubt, however, that the first successful application was made in 1838, as the discovery was reported to the world early in January, 1839.

Preparation.–Iodine is mostly prepared from kelp, or the half vitrified ashes of seaweed, prepared by the inhabitants of the western islands, and the northern shores of Scotland and Ireland. It is treated with water, which washes out all the soluble salts, and the filtered solution is evaporated until nearly all the carbonate of soda and other saline matters have crystallized out. The remaining liquor, which contains the iodine, is mixed with successive portions of sulphuric acid in a leaden retort, and after standing some days to allow the sulphureted hydrogen, etc., to escape, peroxide of manganese is added, and the whole gently heated. Iodine distills over in a purple vapor, and is condensed in a receiver, or in a series of two-necked globes.

Properties.–Iodine is solid at the ordinary temperature, presenting the appearance of dark-grey or purple spangles, possessing a high degree of metallic lustre. It somewhat resembles plumbago, with which it is sometimes diluted, particularly when it is fine. Operators should endeavor to secure the larger crystals. It melts at 224.6 deg., forming a brown or nearly black liquid. It boils at about 356 deg., and emits a very deep violet colored vapor. It gives off a very appreciable vapor, sufficient for all purposes of forming the iodide of silver on the daguerreotype plate, at a temperature of 45 deg. or even lower. Iodine crystallizes readily. Every operator has found upon the side of the jar in his coating-box, perfectly regular crystals, deposited there by sublimation.

Water dissolves but a small proportion of iodine, requiring 7000 parts of water to dissolve one of iodine,

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or one grain to the gallon of water. Alcohol and ether dissolve it freely, as does a solution of nitrate or hydrochlorate of ammonia and of iodides.

The density of solid iodine is 4.95; that of its vapor 8.716. It greatly resembles chlorine and bromine in its combinations, but its affinities are weaker. It does not destroy the majority of organic substances, and vegetable colors generally resist its action. It combines with several organic substances, imparting to them peculiar colors. It colors the skin brown, but the stain soon disappears.

Chloride of Iodine–Is formed by passing chlorine into a bottle containing some iodine. This can be readily done by pouring one ounce and a half of muriatic acid upon a quarter of an ounce of powdered black oxide of manganese, and heat it gradually in a flask, to which is adapted a bent glass tube. This tube must connect with the bottle containing the iodine, and the yellowish-green gas disengaged will readily combine with the iodine, forming a deep red liquid, and the operation is complete. The use of chloride of iodine will be referred to in connection with the Accelerators.

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Iodides.–The iodide treated with the oil of vitriol, instantly produces a considerable deposit of iodine; and if the mixture be heated, intense violent vapors are disengaged. The reaction is due to the decomposition of oil of vitriol by iodohydric acid, water and sulphurous acid being formed, and iodine set free. The iodides in solution are decomposed by chlorine, iodine being precipitated, the smallest quantity of which in solution is instantly detected by its imparting to starch an intensely blue color.

Iodide of Potassium.*–This compound is easily made in the following manner: Subject to a moderate heat a mixture of 100 parts of iodine, 75 of carbonate of potash, 30 of iron filings, and 120 parts of water. This mass must be thoroughly dried and then heated to redness; the resulting reddish powder is to be washed with water, and the solution obtained filtered, and evaporated to dryness. It is found that 100 parts of iodine yield 135 parts of very white, but slightly alkaline, iodide of potassium.

* I shall present the preparation of only a few iodides, and such as are more intimately connected with the Daguerreotype.

Experiment.–On projecting dry pulverized iodide of potassium into fused anhydrous phosphoric acid, a violent disengagement of iodine takes place, attended by a transient ignition; fused hydrate of phosphoric acid liberates iodine abundantly from iodide of potassium; this reaction is accompanied by the phenomenon of flame and formation of a considerable quantity of hydriodic acid.

Iodide of Mercury.–For the preparation of iodide of mercury, Dublanc recommends to cover 100 grms. of mercury with 1 kilogrm. of alcohol, to add 124 grms. of iodine gradually in portions of ten grms., and agitating between each fresh addition, until the alcohol becomes colorless again. After the addition of the last 4 grms. the alcohol remains colored, the whole of the mercury having become converted into iodide. The resulting preparation is washed with alcohol; it is crystalline and of a hyacinth color.

Iodide of Silver.–This compound is formed upon every plate upon which a Daguerreotype is produced. The vapor of iodine coming in contact with the silver surface, forms an iodide which is peculiarly sensitive to light.

The various colors produced are owing to the thickness of the coating, and the maximum sensibility of the coating, as generally adopted, is when it assumes a deep yellow, or slightly tinged with rose color.

This compound is largely employed in most photographic processes on paper, and may be easily prepared by the following formula: By adding iodide of potassium to a solution of nitrate of silver, a yellowish-white precipitate of iodide of silver is obtained, which is insoluble in water, slightly soluble in nitric acid, and soluble in a small degree in ammonia, which properties seem easily to distinguish it from the chloride and bromide of silver. Chlorine decomposes it and sets the iodine free, and chlorohydric acid converts it into a chloride. It fuses below a red heat. Although the effect of light on the iodide is less rapid than on the chloride, the former sooner turning black, assuming a brown tinge; but when in connection with gallic acid and the ferrocyanate of potash, it forms two of the most sensitive processes on paper.

Iodide of silver dissolves easily in a solution of iodide of potassium, and the liquid deposits in evaporation crystals of a double iodide.

Iodide of Gold.–If a solution of potassium be added to a solution of chloride of gold, a precipitate of iodide of gold takes place, soluble in an excess of the precipitate. A little free potash should be added to combine with any iodide that may chance to be set free by the chloride of gold.

Iodide of Lime is prepared by adding iodine to hydrate of lime (which will be referred to farther on) until the mixture assumes a light yellow shade, when wanted for combinations with accelerators, or to a dark brown when employed for the first coating. This latter mixture has been sold in our market under the name of “Iodide of Brome.”

Iodide of Bromine.–(See page 76.)

Experiments with Iodine.–Place a plate which bas been exposed in the camera over the vapor of iodine for a very brief period, and it will present the appearance of the impression having been solarized.

b. Upon a Daguerreotype plate, from which an impression has been effaced by rubbing or otherwise, the picture may be made to reappear by merely coating it over with iodine.

c. Place in a vessel a little water, into which put the smallest possible quantity of free iodine and add a little starch, and the liquid will instantly assume a blue color. Advantage is taken of this fact in the laboratory to detect the presence of iodine in liquids. The starch should be dissolved in boiling water and allowed to cool. There are numerous other interesting experiments that can be performed by the aid of iodine, but it is unnecessary here to consume more space.


History.–The Swedish chemist, Scheele, in 1774, while examining the action of hydrochloric acid on peroxide of manganese, first noticed this element. He called it dephlogisticated muriatic acid. It was afterwards, by the French nomenclaturists, termed oxygenated muriatic acid, conceiving it to be a compound of oxygen and muriatic acid. This view of its notice was corrected by Sir H. Davy (in 1809), who gave it the present name. In 1840-41, this gas vas employed for accelerating the operation of light upon the iodized Daguerreotype plate. John Goddard, Wolcott & Johnson, Claudet, Draper, Morse and others, were among the first made acquainted with its use. Count Rumford, Ritter, Scheele, Seebert and others, experimented with chlorine in regard to its effect when exposed to the action of light in combination with silver. In 1845, M. Edward Becquerel announced that he had “been successful in obtaining, by the agency of solar radiations, distinct impressions, of the colors of nature.”

On the 4th of March, 1851, Neipce, St. Victor, a former partner of DAGUERRE, announced that he had produced “all the colors by using a bath of bichloride of copper, and that a similar phenomenon occurs with all salts of copper, mixed with chlorine.”

Preparation.–This is easily accomplished by putting about two parts of hydrochloric (muriatic) acid on one of powdered black oxide of manganese, and heating it gradually in a flask or retort, to which may be adapted a bent glass tube. A yellowish-green gas is disengaged, which being conducted through the glass tube to the bottom of a bottle, can readily be collected, being much heavier than the air, displaces it completely and the bottle is filled (which can be seen by the green color); a greased stopper is tightly fitted to it, and another bottle may be substituted.

In all experiments with chlorine, care should be taken not to inhale the gas!

Properties.–Chlorine is a greenish-yellow gas (whence its name, from chloros, green), with a powerful and suffocating odor, and is wholly irrespirable. Even when much diluted with air, it produces the most annoying irritation of the throat, with stricture of the chest and a severe cough, which continues for hours, with the discharge of much thick mucus. The attempt to breathe the undiluted gas would be fatal; yet, in a very small quantity, and dissolved in water, it is used with benefit by patients suffering under pulmonary consumption.

Under a pressure of about four atmospheres, it becomes a limpid fluid of a fine yellow color, which does not freeze at zero, and is not a conductor of electricity. It immediately returns to the gaseous state with effervescence on removing the pressure.

Water recently boiled will absorb, if cold, about twice its bulk of chlorine gas, acquiring its color and characteristic properties. The moist gas, exposed to a cold of 32 deg., yields beautiful yellow crystals, which are a definite compound of one equivalent of chlorine and ten of water. If these crystals are hermetically sealed up in a glass tube, they will, on melting, exert such a pressure as to liquefy a portion of the gas, which is distinctly seen as a yellow fluid, not miscible with the water which is present. chlorine is one of the heaviest of the gases, its density being 2.47, and 100 cubic inches weighing 76.5 grains.

Chlorine Water.–This combination, which is used in conducting M. Neipce’s process, can be readily prepared by conducting the gas into a bottle containing distilled water. One part water dissolves two parts of chlorine.

Chlorides.–The metallic chlorides are nearly all soluble in water; that of silver and protochloride of mercury being the only exceptions. A metallic chloride, treated with oil of vitriol, disengages chlorohydric acid. Heated with a mixture of peroxide of manganese and sulphuric acid, chlorine is given off, which is easily recognized by its odor and other physical properties.

The chlorides dissolve in water; give with nitrate of silver, a white precipitate, even in highly diluted solutions, becoming violet colored and finally black when exposed to the light. The rapidity of the change of color is proportioned to the intensity of the light. It is insoluble in nitric acid, but readily soluble in ammonia; it fuses without decomposition, forming, when cold, a tough, horny mass, and is reduced by hydrogen and by fusion with carbonate of soda, or with resin.

Chloride of Bromine. (See page 74.)

Chloride of Iodine. (See page 85.)

Chloride of potassium.–or (Muriate of Potassa).–Dissolve half an ounce of carbonate of potassa in water, and neutralize with muriatic acid. Upon concentrating the solutions, cubic crystals will be obtained, having a taste similar to common salt. They consist of potassium and chloride, and when dissolved in water they may be regarded as muriate of potassa.

Chloride of Lime.–Mix half an ounce of slacked lime (hydrate of lime) with six ounces of water, and conduct into this milk of lime, with frequent agitation, as much chlorine gas as will evolve from two ounces of muriatic acid and half an ounce of black oxide of manganese. The liquid clarifies by standing; may be regarded as a solution of chloride of lime, and must be protected from the air and light. It may also be made without putting in the water with the hydrate of lime, by merely passing the chlorine into the hydrate of lime. This last is by some used in preparations for accelerating the operation of taking Daguerreotypes, but when used for this purpose it is in small quantities.

Chloride of Calcium.–To one part of water add two parts of muriatic acid, and add pieces of common chalk until effervescence ceases; then filter through cotton cloth and evaporate it by placing it in all earthen or porcelain dish, over a slow fire, to the consistency of a syrup. When cooling, large prismatic crystals of chloride of calcium are formed. These must be quickly dried by pressing between folds of blotting paper and kept carefully excluded from the air, as it readily attracts hydrogen. For most daguerreotype purposes, the syrup may be at once evaporated to dryness. This is frequently placed in the iodine coating box for the purpose of keeping the atmosphere dry. It is so easily made that every operator can provide himself with it in a short time, and at little expense.

Chloride of Gold.–Is prepared by dissolving gold in aqua regia, a composition of one part of nitric to two parts of muriatic acid. Gold foil is the best for our purposes; coin, however, answers, in most cases, for the daguerreotype operator, as the alloy, being so slight is not noticed in the gilding process. When the latter is used, it will facilitate the operation to beat it out, forming a thin sheet, and then cutting in small strips. Where purity is required, foil is better. The gold is placed in three or four times its own weight of the above acids. For this purpose, an evaporating dish is best (a common saucer will do); a moderate heat may be applied to favor the action. The mixture should be stirred often with a glass rod; care should be observed not to apply too much heat, for at a temperature of about 300 deg. the chlorine would be expelled and leave a metallic precipitate, which would require re-dissolving. Acid may at any time be added if necessary to dissolve the gold, but it is advisable to add as little excess as possible, as it would require more time to evaporate. After all the gold has dissolved, and the liquid assumes a deep red color, the solution should be allowed to cool, being stirred nearly all the time. This salt is of a reddish-brown color. It is rarely we find in our market good chloride of gold, as common, salt is used for the bulk; and when the bottles are labelled “15 grains,” “20 grains,” nine-tenths do not in reality contain exceeding five grains of chloride of gold. The salt is mixed with the above solution when it is cooling, and gives bright yellow crystals, which some of our uninformed operators conceive to be the best quality.

Chloride of Silver.–(Oxide of Silver.)–Take any quantity of silver coin or other silver, roll or hammer it thin; cut in small pieces. This in order to save time. Put the silver in a glass or earthen vessel (Florence flask is best); pour in nitric acid and water, about three parts of the former to one of the latter. The operation of cutting up the silver may be facilitated by applying a gentle heat. This blue solution consists of oxide of silver and oxide of copper, both combined with nitric acid. Should the operator wish a pure solution of silver, which, however, is not always used, he may obtain it in the following manner:

To separate the two metals contained in the above solution from each other, put some bright copper coins into the solution and set it aside in a warm place for three or four days, occasionally giving it a circular motion. The separated laminae are pure silver, which is to be digested with ammonia until it ceases to be colored blue. The silver, after being washed and dried, is again dissolved in nitric acid, and the liquid, diluted with water, is kept as solution, of silver.

Either of the above solutions (the one of oxide of silver and copper, and the pure silver solution) may be prepared for use by putting them in a bottle, with a quantity of water, and adding common fine salt, you obtain a white curdy precipitate of chloride of silver. No matter how much salt is used, provided enough be added to throw down all the chloride of silver. This solution should be well agitated and then allowed to stand for a few minutes; thus the white precipitate is in the bottom of the bottle. When the water has become clear, pour it off with care, leaving the sediment behind, then add a fresh quantity of clean water, shake, let settle, and pour off as before. Repeat the same for several times, and the excess of salt will disappear, leaving the white precipitate, which may be drained of the water