Platt Babbitt Daguerreotype of Niagara Falls

Platt Babbitt Daguerreotype of Niagara Falls

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Usage conditions apply
This whole-plate hand-colored daguerreotype by Platt D. Babbitt shows tourists at Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls, New York, circa 1854-1870. Babbitt established himself as a professional photographer on the American side of Niagara Falls in 1853. He built a pavilion for his camera to take photographs of visiting groups, without the tourists' knowing. Babbitt finished his daguerreotypes, unique positive photographs made on silver-coated copper plates, and offered them for sale before groups left. He ran this lucrative business for almost two decades.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Other Terms
photograph; Photograph; Daguerreotype
Date made
ca 1850
Place Made
United States: New York, Niagara Falls
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
copper (overall material)
overall: 23 cm x 18 cm x 2 cm; 9 1/16 in x 7 1/16 in x 13/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Albert Boni
See more items in
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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The assertion that this image was taken "without the tourists' knowing " is highly unlikely.The long exposures needed at that time ca.1854 argues that they were carefully posed. A daguerreotype is a one-of-a-kind image and it's unlikely Babbitt would waste materials on a prospective sale.The story that they were "candids " was probably told to John Werge by Babbitt. Likely it was a conceit of Babbitt's to burnish his image or to have some sport with Werge.

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