Incredible 19th-century daguerrotypes show the faces of the Gold Rush


By Alyssa Pereira
San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, February 18, 2018

After 1848 the prospectors came from all over to California for gold. The lot of them were hopeful, desperate, and ambitious -- "the Forty-Niners" they were called. At a new museum exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa (and in a new book), you can come face to face with them.

As these fortune-seekers arrived in the West -- 200,000 or so of them between 1849 and 1851 -- so did those hoping to chronicle their efforts. Aiming to make a few bucks by providing portraits to those who were making new money, photographers utilized a method created only 10 years earlier by a Frenchman named Louis Daguerre. It was called daguerreotyping.

Photographers set up their studios in wagons and created these daguerreotypes from silver and copper plates. As the story goes, the photographers would manipulate the images after printing them, "adding gold dust onto streams or gold nuggets onto the sieves of the pioneers." ...

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