Sunday, 15 November 2009

More on Daguerreotyes

When the Illustrated London News published engravings of officers from the missing Franklin Expedition on 13th September, 1851, they did so with this note:

“The portraits upon the preceding page have been engraved from photographs by Mr. Beard. Previous to the sailing of the Erebus and Terror, Mr. Beard was commissioned to supply Sir John Franklin with a complete Daguerrotype apparatus, to take out with him; and with which, on board one of the ships, the accompanying Portraits were taken. Lady Franklin possesses one case of these likenesses, and Mr. Beard has another, which he has kindly permitted our artist to copy.

"The Erebus and Terror, it will be recollected, sailed from Greenhithe on May 18th, 1845. A portrait of Sir John Franklin, with views of the vessels, and two cabins of the Erebus, appeared in the ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS for May 24".


  1. Yes, I'd known about this reference -- in fact I have the very page here before me. And yet the account is puzzling; since the SPRI set, or so I have always understood, was Lady Franklin's, then we must either assume that a) The vast majority of the subjects in Beard's set were so similar in their poses to those in Lady Franklin's that their being the source didn't make a visible difference; or b) The ILN writer was not fully informed, and the engraver in fact borrowed a mixed set. I had always assumed "a" to be the case, but as we now have at least two quite different poses, and one (Crozier) whose copy at the Derbyshire record office is of a lost original not in the SPRI set, it seems that some version of "b" is more likely ... or (c) ought I to have another cup of coffee and re-think the whole thing?

  2. Well you know I'm completely baffled too. I think I'm going to give up on Dags after this but I thought it would be helpful to post this quote on here for those who haven't seen it.

    It's going to take something a little stronger than coffee to work out. I don't know whether it'll help, but I'm planning on having a glass of wine shortly.

    Actually I have just noticed that it says 'from photographs by Mr. Beard'. It says Lady Franklin 'possesses one case' with Beard having another. That might mean a mounted set of little prints on a board under glass. A case of photographs is not the same thing as a set of Daguerreotypes, which are each in their own separate case. So perhaps it means Lady Franklin and Beard each kept a set (or subset?) of calotypes or some other photographic copies, of the original Daguerreotype(s)? But in that case how did a set of twelve Daguerreotypes stay together?

    The only thing we can do really is get someone who understands early photography to have a look at the images at Matlock and try to see what they are and if any more deductions are possible. Otherwise I think we have reached the end of the road with this topic. At least we do now know from the Le Vesconte story that some families kept a Dag back from Beard and Lady F, which holds open the possibility of more of them turning up, having passed through other families' hands.