This Day in History – January 9th, 1839

In 1829 French artist and chemist Louis Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, contributing a cutting edge camera design, partnered with Niépce, a leader in photochemistry, to further develop their technologies. The two men came into contact through their optician, Chevalier, who supplied lenses for their camerae obscurae.


François Arago

François Arago announced the daguerreotype process at a joint meeting of the French Academy of Sciences and the Académie des beaux arts on January 9th, 1839. Later that year William Fox Talbot announced his silver chloride “sensitive paper” process. Together, these announcements mark 1839 as the year photography was born. although Daguerre’s view of the street outside his window was produced the year previously, 1838. For other, earlier practitioners of photography, see Hippolyte Bayard and Hércules Florence who produced photographs in 1833—earlier than Daguerre, although later than Niépce’s bitumen heliography. Also, Hércules Florence called his invention photographie whereas in the early days of photography it was called daguerreotypy and the daguerreotype. No one mentioned the word “photography”.

Daguerre did not patent and profit from his invention in the usual way. Instead, it was arranged that the French government would acquire the rights in exchange for a lifetime pension. The government would then present the daguerreotype process “free to the world” as a gift, which it did on August 19th, 1839. However, on August 14th, 1839, a patent agent acting on Daguerre’s behalf filed for a patent in England, Wales and Scotland. For some reason the patent in Scotland was not enforced. Consequently, Britain became the only nation in which the purchase of a license was legally required to make and sell daguerreotypes.

François Arago noted that early attempts at photography, which required very long exposures, could not capture detail properly because of the movement of the sun, so that shadows came from different directions during the course of these long exposures.

Flourish 3

One Response to “This Day in History – January 9th, 1839

  • IN 1848 Charles Fontayne and William Porter, captures a 2 mile stretch of Cincinnati with their technology, standing now where Newport on the Levee is.

    This Daguerreotype in on display at the Cincinnati Library,

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