Daguerreotype up for grabs

ONE of the forerunners of the modern-day camera by Jacques Daguerre, dating from 1839, could sell for a record price for such items at auction later this year, a Vienna art gallery said on Tuesday.

ONE of the forerunners of the modern-day camera by Jacques Daguerre, dating from 1839, could sell for a record price for such items at auction later this year, a Vienna art gallery said on Tuesday.

There are barely a dozen daguerreotype cameras still in the world today, most of which are housed in museum collections.

But Galerie Westlicht in Vienna has been commissioned to sell a rare one bearing the signature of its designer, Jacques Daguerre (1787-1851), and it is scheduled to come under the hammer in the Austrian capital on May 29.

When the gallery auctioned an unsigned daguerreotype camera in 2007, it sold for a record R6million. Gallery director Peter Coeln revealed that the vendors this time were a family of opticians from northern Germany "who would like to remain anonymous".

"The current owner was given it by his father in the 1970s as a present for getting his opticians' diploma," Coeln told AFP.

The camera - with its sliding box made out of pine and a lens by Parisian opticians Vincent and Charles Chevalier - is in good condition. It carries a seal by the maker Alphonse Giroux, who was Daguerre's brother-in-law, and Daguerre's signature is clearly legible.

"There is no serial number, unlike other apparatus in use at the time. But it carries in the initials 'UV', which suggests it may have been made for someone of the higher classes in the 19th century," Coeln said.

The gallerist said he hoped the camera would be sold to a French buyer "since France is the country where photography was invented". - Sapa-AFP

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