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Unidentified photographer 
A hydraulic mining scene 
Private collection of Jack and Beverly Wilgus 
(Beverly Wilgus, 4 March 2022) This is a daguerreotype that should not have survived. It was bought for 25 in a roadside flea market as a bare, unprotected plate that had tarnished to solid black. Since the image on a daguerreotype surface is so fragile that it can be removed with a feather and the unprotected silver plate will tarnish to black if not protected from air this should have been a lost cause! The original purchaser was a friend who called us to ask how to clean it. We no longer clean daguerreotypes (so skip the lecture on the ultimate evil since all the images we cleaned are still in perfect condition), but (like most collectors of the time) we did so in the 60s and 70s. We gave him instructions and within an hour got an excited call. "It's a mining scene!" Yea right. But it was! When he dispersed his collection we acquired it. It is in amazing condition considering the state in which it was found with only a few scrapes on the surface. It shows a cut away hillside with six men and the sluice of a hydraulic mine. We assume it is a California gold mine. 

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