Re: Color Daguerreotypes? (Long)

From: Mike Hopper ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 01/24/04-10:21:09 AM Z
Message-id: <00e601c3e296$1372faa0$6401a8c0@DHMYFY01>

----- Original Message -----
From: "Phillip Murphy" <>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, January 24, 2004 1:23 AM
Subject: Re: Color Daguerreotypes? (Long)

> I've always considered Levi L. Hill to be one of the most ingenious and
> passionate souls in the entire history of photography. In the days of the
> Daguerreotype, he was highly respected as an author and teacher of
> the process as well as being an inventor of extraordinary talent.
> His "Treatise on Daguerreotype" is one of the most thorough
> examinations of the theory and practice of the art. S.D. Humphrey asked
> Hill to be co-editor of the Daguerrian Journal which Hill accepted
> for a year.
> Levi Hill created the first full color photographic images in 1851.
> He called his process the Heliochrome. Humphrey announced it as
> the "Hillotype" in his Journal to honor Hill. By 1852, Hill was visited
> some of the greatest names in Daguerreotypy to witness the process.
> Root, Gurney, Whipple and Samuel Morse were among them; all
> testifying to the brilliancy of the colors and the genius of the process.
> It was the inventor Samuel Morse who counseled Hill to not reveal
> the process until he received patent protection. Hill went before a Senate
> committee to achieve that aim and the finding was that since the colors
> were created by a purely chemical means the patent laws of the day
> could not provide any security. Hill decided to publish the process in
> book form: "A Treatise on Heliochromy" which appeared in 1856.
> The book gives a full account of the harassment and slander that
> befell him from D.D.T. Davy and his "committee" in New York.
> (watch the movie "Gangs of New York" and you'll get a sense of the
> mob mentality that Levi Hill was facing by not giving away his process.)
> Imagine a group of carbon printers demanding that the Fresson family
> reveal their process!
> Hill went on to experiment with illuminating gases and received four
> patents. Remember, this was before Tesla and the streets of New York
> were lit by gas. This activity segued to Hill organizing a successful
> Petroleum stock company. He also had a gallery at 373 Broadway.
> The Hillotype is not a Daguerreotype although it uses a Daguerreotype
> plate as it's base. The surface of a Hillotype has more of an enamel
> appearance. I know of two people who have re-created the process based
> on Hill's manual. One is Joseph Boudreau and the other Arron Miller.
> It is a complicated and toxic process which made it impractical for the
> typical Daguerreotypist trying to turn a quick buck in the 1850's.
> by that time, the wet-plate was beginning to replace the Daguerreotype
> as the primary photographic medium. The Smithsonian has a number
> of Hillotypes that are rarely viewed and have sustained considerable
> fading over the past century and a half.
> -Phillip
> Jon Danforth wrote:
> > Abrams' "The Invention of Photography" briefly mentions a 'Pastor Hill'
> > his attempts at color photography using the Daguerreotype. The book
> > elaborate on the process or the success but I was wondering if anyone
> > seen or heard of this kind of work? I would guess that the experiments
> > would be in the 1860-1866 realm, is that on base?
> >
> > Maybe they could be talking about a toning procedure but I was under the
> > impression that Daguerreotypes were generally toned with Gold after
> > development.
> >
> > -Jon

For those with an interest in this you can find used book copies of Hills'
"Treatise on Heliochromy" at for under $30. [This is the
Carnation Press edition of 1972].

Received on Sat Jan 24 10:21:16 2004

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