Paris: Béthune and Plon for Susse frères and Delloye, 1839.
1st Edition. Soft cover. Very Good. Item #003772
8vo (210 x 135 mm). , 79 ,  pp., including half-title, 6 lithographed plates and 2 advertisement leaves at end. Original printed green wrappers (dust-soiled and spotted, slight creasing, spine repaired), protected in custom clamshell box. All pages uncut. Text little age-toned with some minor occasional foxing. A very good, highly unsophisticated copy. ----
"THE BEGINNINGS OF PHOTOGRAPHY" (Horblit). "PERHAPS NO OTHER INVENTION EVER CAPTURED THE IMAGINATION OF THE PUBLIC TO SUCH A DEGREE AND CONQUERED THE WORLD WITH SUCH LIGHTENING RAPIDITY AS THE DAGUERREOTYPE" (Gernsheim).
FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE of Daguerre's exposition of his photographic process. AN ATTRACTIVE COPY IN ITS ORIGINAL PRINTED WRAPPERS OF THIS GREAT RARITY.
"At a joint meeting of the French Academies of Arts and Sciences, Count François Arago announced the miraculous invention of Daguerre, a method for making faithful impressions of objects on sheets of copper, coated with light-sensitive silver salts. Arago's announcement trumped the efforts of Talbot, much to the Englishman's chagrin" (Parr-Badger vol. 1, p. 13).
Daguerre's manual was quickly sold out. A total of 39 reprints, new editions, and translations appeared in the following 18 months. The great demand accounts for the profusion of issues of the first edition: 7 are recorded, all from the same basic setting of type. Of these the first four differ in the booksellers' names alone. The present copy is of the first Susse issue which was released on 14 September 1939. It is the FIRST (and not the second) to appear, preceeding the Alphonse Giroux issue, which was long time thought to be the first and of which only two copies are known (see Honeyman 802), both preserved in the George Eastman Museum, Rochester. In the Bibliography of Daguerre’s Instruction Manuals, Beaumont Newhall (wrongly) assigned priority to the Giroux printing stating "published on or about 20 August" (see Gernsheim pp.198-205). This assertion appears to be based solely on the fact that Daguerre arranged for Giroux, who was a relative of Madame Daguerre, to market his apparatus and Manual on an advertisement that appeared on the back page of the Gazette de France of 20 August 1839. But the legal literature of a case involving an engraver and printer named Giraldon helps to clarify priority. Giraldon sued Giroux for illegally reprinting the Manual, and reveals that Daguerre had contracted with Giraldon to publish his work. As no copies are known with a Giraldon imprint, it is evident that he printed the manual for several merchants, "Messrs. Giroux, Susse, and Lerebours," varying only the imprints and the inserted advertising material. Giroux testified in his deposition that "It was agreed with Mr. Giraldon that he would deliver to me the first 300 copies, bearing my imprint. This undertaking was not fulfilled, and I therefore was no long bound to Mr. Giraldon. I reprinted the brochure, which everyone had the right to do . . ." [italics added]. Daguerre scholar Pierre Harmant notes: "If one is to believe the Bibliographie de la France, only Susse Frères should be considered the original publishers of the Manual. The Bibliographie was the house organ of the Librairie Française. Each week it appeared with a list of works published in France during the week before. On 14th September, it listed Daguerre's Manual for the first time (No. 4456), and the publisher's name given there is Susse Frères." After surveying notices of daguerreotypy at the other opticians in September, Harmant observes that no buyers or journalists mention it in August and writes, "we may safely conclude that the Manual was not available during August." On 8 September, Isidore Niépce, the son of Daguerre's late partner, wrote to his mother that "Daguerre has just published a brochure" on the process. In the letter, Niépce noted that "some days ago" he had quarreled with Daguerre concerning his father's role in the invention. Niépce wrote that he thought they had parted amicably but "now the brochure . . . has just appeared. It gives me a proof of his knavery." This 8 September letter additionally suggests that Newhall's 20 August date for the Giroux issue is in error. More significantly, Daguerre himself confirms Niépce's comment that the brochure had "just appeared" by 8 September. Daguerre in fact testified in the Giraldon lawsuit: "On the day of my first meeting on the Quai d'Orsay [his first public demonstration of his process, September 7], I was astonished to see my brochure in everyone's hands, while I myself did not have a copy. These copies bore the address of Mr. Susse, who was to have been supplied only after Mr. Alphonse Giroux" [italics added]. Given the family ties between Daguerre and Giroux, it is difficult to imagine that Giroux would have neglected to give the photographer a copy of the Manual had it been ready. As such, the present evidence clearly indicates that the Giroux Manuals were not immediately available, and further that the earliest copies issued in fact bore the Susse Frères imprint. (ref. Harmant, Pierre, Daguerre's Manual: A Bibliographical Enigma, Journal of the History of Photography, I: pp. 79-83).
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, inventor of the Diorama, a picture show based on lighting effects, started experiments in the 1820s with fixing the images of the camera obscura on silver chloride paper. His lack of success using this method stimulated his interest in the heliographic method invented by Nicephore Nièpce, who had produced the first successful photographic image in 1826 or 1827 on a pewter plate coated with bitumen of Judea dissolved in oil of lavender. In 1829 Daguerre succeeded in persuading the reluctant Nièpce to become his partner. However, it was only after Nièpce's death, in the spring of 1835, that Daguerre accidentally discovered a quicker method of exposing and developing the Niècian image through the application of mercury vapor. Using this method, with common table salt as the fixative, he produced his first successful permanent photographic image in 1837. Still under contract with Nièpce's son Isidore, Daguerre agreed to split the profits from the new invention in exchange for calling it by his name alone. He then proceeded to launch a publicity campaign with the goal of attracting 400 subscribers at 1,000 francs each, stipulating that the processes of heliography and 'daguerrotype' would not be revealed until 100 subscribers were enrolled. This failed, and the resourceful Daguerre turned to other methods, privately approaching a number of leading scientists with the goal of interesting the government. "He was fortunate in finding in François Dominique Arago an influential ally, for he was a member of the Chamber of Deputies as well as a distinguished physicist and astronomer. Soon afterwards, Arago gave the discovery official status by a brief announcement at the Acadmie des Sciences, on 7 January 1839" (H. & A. Gernsheim, The History of Photography, p. 68). Arago energetically promoted the invention and succeeded in obtaining government funding for the two partners, although in the course of his arguments he gradually shifted credit for the invention to Daguerre, at the expense of Nièpce's pioneering work. By the summer, Daguerre was finally obliged to divulge the details of "his" process (though not before Fox Talbot, in reaction to the news of Daguerre' invention, had published his own announcement of his independent invention of a photographic process). On August 19 Arago made a full announcement to a packed house at a joint meeting of the Académies des Sciences and des Beaux-Arts at the Institut de France. The excitement was palpable. "Perhaps no other invention ever captured the imagination of the public to such a degree and conquered the world with such lightening rapidity as the daguerreotype" (H. & A. Gernsheim, The History of Photography, p. 71). Along with the official documents relating to the government's review of the procedure, Daguerre's manual includes details of its genesis, including a transcription of Nièpce's own description of his heliographic process, submitted to Daguerre in 1839, and a full illustrated description of his daguerreotype process - presented as an independent invention, superior to Nièpce's.
We know of only three other unsophisticated copies of the first issue in its original printed wrappers that have appeared at auction in the past 40 years: the Honeyman copy (Sothebys 1979, lot 802, GBP 1400), the Meyer Friedmann copy (Sothebys 2001, lot 40, $55375) and finally the Richard Green copy (Christies 2008, lot 66, $122500). In contrast to ours, those copies are in yellow wrappers and we know of no other copy in green wrappers.
References: PMM / Printing and the Mind of Man 318b; Dibner 183; En français dans le texte 255; H. & A. Gernsheim, The History of Photography, chapter 6; Horblit/Grolier 21a (reproducing the 4th issue); Norman 569 (same issue); P.G. Harmant, Daguerre's Manual: A Bibliographical Enigma, Journal of the History of Photography, vol. I, 1977, pp. 79-83.
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