July 25, 2012 at 10:23 am #7772
Hi. My wife purchased these boxes years ago and she was told at that time they were used in the Daguerreotype process. We are not sure of that because we can’t find anything on the web like them. Can anyone shed some light on what we have? Thank you in advance go any help you can give.July 25, 2012 at 11:39 am #10782
Maybe if you post a picture we can help.July 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm #10784July 25, 2012 at 3:03 pm #10786
Hi Creedsd (not sure of your name),
Those are post-1900 development tanks for glass plate negatives, probably from the 1920s or 1930s. Each tank would have been filled up with liquid developer, stop bath, fixer (hypo), or water. The rack (containing the plates to be developed) would be lowered into the required solutions using the wire handles on top of the racks (as shown in your second photo). The lids were put on top to keep the light out and to minimize evaporation.
Buffalo, NYJuly 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm #10788
Thank you for insight. Very interesting. I am sorry for my lack of knowledge. Are glass plate development tanks of that era used in the Daguerreotype process? Or is it something completely different altogether.
Thank you again,
ChrisJuly 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm #10792
Development tanks like you have were never used in the daguerreian era. Nor are they used by modern daguerreotypists.
The reason is, is because your tanks are designed to process (develop) multiple glass-plate negatives all at once. That is what all those slots are for; multiple plates all processed at the same time. That type of multiple-plate development is not part of the daguerreotype process.
On the contrary, daguerreotypes are always developed one at a time (not in multiples) and the development process is not done by immersing the daguerreotype in a liquid. Daguerreotypes are developed using either the vapor of heated mercury or bright light through a filter.
Hopefully that will clear things up for you.
Buffalo, NYJuly 25, 2012 at 11:57 pm #10793
Rob that was fantastic. I really appreciate you willing to share your knowledge with my Wife and I. We both find daguerreotypes beautiful and fascinating. Now we know what we have! Happy daguerreotyping (sp).
All the best,
ChrisJuly 27, 2012 at 6:52 pm #10800
Rob you are correct up to a point but your last claim that Dags “are always developed one at a time” only applies to most 19th Century Daguerreotypists. If you read my 1998 article “Warming up to Cold Mercury”, in the resources section, you will see that several Dags can be developed at a time in a vacuum desiccator with a mult-slotted holder. Many B-Daggists also develop more than one Dag at a time since the developing process takes several hours for each plate. Too long to wait for the results of the first one before trying another shot.July 27, 2012 at 8:22 pm #10802
Yes, John, you are correct. With the cold mercury development technique you developed, you could put more than one plate inside your vacuum dessicator and they would all process at the same time using the same volume of mercury vapor. I should have qualified my statement by specifying that mercury-developed daguerreotypes (which are over 99% of all daguerreotypes ever made) were only processed one at a time.
Even Becquerel-developed daguerreotypes are rarely (if ever) developed using some multiple-plate device. Yes, you can put multiple filters over multiple plates and expose them to the sun or other light source at the same time, but I would consider that type of development to be individual development because they are usually just the individual plate holders being used to develop one image per plate holder.
If I had more than one mercury box and developed a plate in each box at the same time, I would still consider the plates to be individually developed; they each have their own unique developing chamber.
RobJuly 27, 2012 at 10:27 pm #10803
According to this report mercury boxes designed to hold “2 or more plates” were available as early as 1853.
Knight’s catalogue of 1853 shows a similar box to this example described as the ‘Improved Mercury Box’, however it is fitted with a slide to view the plate rather than a hinged flap. The cost was £1.9.0 for a model without a thermometer. Also shown is a model where the exposed plate is attached to the slanted lid of the box, the lid has to be raised to see the progress of development (this is also illustrated in the ‘Barger, White, Daguerreotype’ book). A further type where the plate is held vertically is shown and described as by Bingham (presumably R.J. Bingham). In Willats’s ‘Practical Hints’ a box is illustrated able to take two or more plates next to each other, the plate holders rest against the outside of the box and have short handles attached to lift them.
Presumably these could be used to develop a pair of stereo sixth plates, exposed simultaneously in a 2 lens stereo camera.
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