Today’s Mississippi Streets image of downtown Holly Springs in 1854 1857 may contain the oldest photographic image ever on Preservation in Mississippi. It was passed on to me by Chelius Carter, who got permission to send it from the owner Henry Dancy. The image itself is pretty amazing, but found with the image was this wonderful letter from Sam Carey to his parents, explaining the scene and even naming the type of image, a Sphereotype, not the more familiar Daguerreotype.
Holly Springs, March 27/57
Annie has written you all the news, so I will just give a description of the Daguerreotype or rather Sphereotype which I send by this mail. In the distance you will perceive the Methodist Church. The first building this side, is the residence of Dr. Dougherty, our physician. In the right hand corner block of buildings, next to the corner is my store, occupied as a confectionary. The building on the left fronting you, is the Union House, where I pasfed (archaic) my first night in Holly Springs.
The enclosure you see is the Court house square, which contains the Court house surrounded by trees. In the foreground, and perspective you see Cotton wagons. At the wagon nearest the fence, you see a man, with his foot on the wheel is Mr. Ross, a Cotton buyer, the other man, by the oxen is Mr. Joe Farrell. You can see by this exactly how the Cotton is put up. These Bales generally hold 500 lbs. You can see a great many little things about the picture that I have not time to specify. I thought (sp.) would be interesting to you. How natural those Oxen look, the first you see turning around, the Mules too, standing half asleep. With much love, I am your affectionate Son.
S. E. Carey
As this was the first time I’ve ever seen the word Sphereotype, I had to look it up. It’s such an arcane and forgotten term, I had to click to the SECOND PAGE OF GOOGLE to find a definition of this word! That’s how hard I work for you, MissPresers!
This is what the AlternativePhotography website has to say about Sphereotype photography:
Sphereotypes is a process patented (US patent #14,696 I believe) by Albert Bisbee in 1856. It was essentially a positive collodion image on glass that was exposed through a spherical mask – hence the name sphereotype – which was the same size as the mount that was to enclose it or case it was to be put into.
Thanks to Henry Dancy and Chelius Carter for sharing this image and its letter.
Categories: Holly Springs