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dry clean water wash electro-cleaning

Dry Clean Conservation Technique

All of the daguerreotypes in the University Archives were dry cleaned. The conservator removed the daguerreotype from its housing and cleaned the plate using compressed air from an ear syringe, which loosened and removed any debris from the surface of the plate. The cover glass was cleaned, the plate and glass were resealed, and the preserver (if there was one) was replaced. The package was then put back into its case, or if the case had been lost a new enclosure was made.

Despite the fact that the two daguerreotypes featured here number among the earliest examples in the University Archives, both have survived in very good condition. Each retains its original case and required only the minimum conservation treatment.

Group portrait of 35 men, ca. 1843. Quarter plate daguerreotype.
Group portrait of 35 men, thought to be members of the Class of 1843 with some faculty, ca. 1843. Quarter plate daguerreotype. Photographer: possibly George Prosch.

This daguerreotype, possibly the earliest example in the University Archives, has previously been thought to be of the Class of 1843. It presents many puzzles to the present-day viewer, however. No definitive identifications have been made for the 35 sitters or the daguerreotypist and the building in which the men sat for their portrait is unknown, but we may speculate. There were 63 members of the Class of 1843, and at that time there were seven buildings on campus - only three of which had rooms large enough for 35 people; two of these were Whig and Clio Hall, home of the two debating societies on campus. This image may present members of one of these societies. Some of the men appear to be older, and may be faculty members or tutors. The rest are undoubtedly students, their faces young and expectant as they face the camera. The photographer may have been George Prosch, a New York daguerreotypist known to have worked in Princeton during the early 1840s, taking portraits of students, faculty, and Princeton Borough residents, as well as assisting Professor of Natural Philosophy Joseph Henry with his experiments using daguerreotype plates.  

Double portrait , Maclean and  Son
Double portrait of George Macintosh Maclean (1806-1886, Class of 1824) and his son John Maclean (1837-1870, Class of 1858), ca. 1842-1845. Sixth plate daguerreotype. Photographer unknown.

George Macintosh Maclean was the son of John Maclean, the Scottish physician who joined the faculty of the College of New Jersey (as Princeton University was known until 1896) in 1795 as Professor of Chemistry and Natural History. George's older brother, John Maclean (Class of 1816), was president of Princeton from 1854 until 1868.

This double portrait is one of three in the Princeton University Archives for which father and son posed.





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