Search Database

Translate this page

  Alexander S. Wolcott

Alexander Simon Wilcott was born in 1804, in New York. He was a dentist by trade and machinist.

On October 6th 1839, the firm of Alexander Wolcott & John Johnson commenced working on the daguerreotype process announced in August of that year, and on the 7th of October, 1839 they were able to produce a portrait daguerreotype. Wolcott & Johnson have claimed to be the first to produce a life portrait, however, it is unclear if this honor belongs to Wolcott, Morse or Draper.

In March 1840, with the aid of a new invention referred to as the mirror camera, Wilcott opened, which may have been the world's first portrait studio.

On May 8, 1840 Alexander Wolcott, with the assistance of John Johnson Sr., received the first American patent for photography (US Patent No. 1582) for their Daguerreotype mirror camera, which did not have a lens. The camera was based on a concave reflecting mirror built by an associate Mr Henry Fitz, similar to those used for making celestial telescopes. The Wolcott & Johnson patent camera enabled the successful taking of life portraiture by significantly reducing the subjects sitting time from 30 minutes to only 5 minutes, while still using Daguerre’s chemical formula. Mr Johnson Sr paid Daguerre 150 pounds for the use of his process

William S. Johnson who was John Johnsons father, traveled to England marketing the Wolcott & Johnson photographic camera. An English entrepreneur Richard Beard, had secured the only license for making Daguerreotypes in London from Daguerre and he agreed to jointly secured the Wolcott & Johnson camera patent for Britain with Mr. Wolcott, which was recorded on June 14th 1840. Beard then opened the first portrait studio in England.

In 1842 wolcott discovered a combination of chemicals, known in London as Wolcott's mixture which reduced sitting time and was very sensitive to the action of light.

In 1844, Alexander Simon Wilcott died leaving behind a pioneering accomplishment as the very first American to secure a patent in the field of photography and open a portrait studio.

1844 Newton's London journal of arts and sciences, Volume 25, By William Newton & Charles Frederick Partington
1864, The camera and the pencil, or, The heliographic art: its theory and practice, By Marcus Aurelius Root

# 1508
2011-08-12 00:00:00

Return to Previous Page
Return to the History Librarium

Copyright © 2002 - 2022 Historic Camera