John Mayall’s Dag

I went for picked up a beautiful ninth plate daguerreotype plate while I was over in London. The price was reasonably cheap and I didn’t bother to look much into it until few minutes after I walked away from the stall. Reason being was I never bothered to collect any plates before was most of the time these are quite battered and usually missing the front part of the case, leaving behind just the dag plate, the brass frame and the rear part of the case. The complete dag plates are always on the higher price as well.

Though this time around it was more for the image itself. From a distance the portrait was crystal clear, precisionly focused and hint of hand-tinting were there. I asked the seller and we haggled (yes, I am just that mean and I managed to get it superbly cheap).

The rear panel of the ninth plate case
The rear panel of the ninth plate case

Flipped behind it was a John Mayall’s plate! Oh how I imagine people would pay much, much more for it.

I was estatic as I knew this man had a great depth to his career and presence as a daguerreotypist in Britain (which he had a stint over in Philadelphia prior to his move back to London). The great man himself had done plates with Mr Turner, captured the image of the Niagara Falls,  gave us a great interior view of the “Great Exhibition”, with fantastic artistic ways in posing his sitters, mastered the hand-tint of daguerreotypes, among many that is worth mention.

Unknow sitter, hand-tinted daguerreotype plate by John Mayall
Unknow sitter, hand-tinted daguerreotype plate by John Mayall

Looking at this plate, the sitter was beautifully captured, and I had just realised that I am still far from such quality such as this. No matter, this would be the set of standard which I desire to achieve for my life’s goal. I have so many words to say about this plate, and excited that I will have greater more rigour work and methodologies ahead of me.

On to work then!


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