The Edgar Allan Poe Daguerreotype

poe daguerreotype

Poe Daguerreotypes are essentially portraits of Edgar Allan Poe; these portraits are thought to be of the most accurate likeliness of the author, although there is question to the truth of this in many instances.
Throughout the years these portraits have been sought after by collectors, and have sold for large amounts. The reality is that there is truly very little authentic likeliness of the writer, and as such there are different degrees of daguerreotypes, some that are accepted and some that are considered junk.

A daguerreotype is the first publically released photographic process that was developed in the mid eighteen hundreds and specifically circa 1839. The process that has been used to capture Poe is therefore one of the earlier processes known as Poe died only a decade after these primitive photographs were first developed.

The many faces of Edgar Allan Poe that have been seen range in degree of being a true likeliness to the late writer. Many colleagues and friends of Poe, in fact state that they had never seen a Daguerreotype that did the author justice in any true sense of the word.

The method to create a traditional Daguerreotype is very in depth, and is a creative process by which an image is formed on a highly polished silver surface. Various chemicals such as Chlorine and bromine are used in conjunction with Iodine to create an invisible image on a plate made out of a silver halide coating.  It then is fused with heated Mercury and soaked in a simple salt solution. The main problem with this process, is that even after the development of the exposure, the image is incredibly sensitive to touch and air, and is best kept under glass in an airtight container.

These delicate standards have made it difficult to tell how accurate most of the Edgar Allan Poe Daguerreotypes are. And as such they are often regarded to hold little value. There have been some instances where authentic portraits of Poe have turned up such as the instance of the one found in Walnut Iowa by chance. The person who found this noticed it amidst a bunch of junk, and intuition led to the purchase of the Daguerreotype. This valuable find was later appraised on the Antiques Roadshow for between thirty and fifty thousand dollars. This shows that there are those pieces out there of considerable value, but even those are in question as to the authenticity to the likeliness of Poe.


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