The complex tools of Louis Daguerre's trade ensured it would be decades before photography became an everyday hobby.
Daguerreotypists used the buffer (right) to restore a suitable sheen to a silvery plate, such as the one at center. A sensitization box (top) held vapors of iodine and bromine, which were used to treat the plate before exposure. Heated vapors of mercury were used to develop the picture inside the box at left, and a beveller (bottom) put a neat edge on the finished product.
The work may well have been worth the trouble, as daguerreotypes were generally sharper than pictures made with competing, paper-print processes, such as the calotype, pioneered by British inventor William Henry Fox Talbot. But Talbot's method looked far more like photography's future.
"The daguerreotype process itself turned out to be a dead end, because each image was unique," Haberstich said. "With Talbot's process, where you had a negative, you were able to make an unlimited number of prints for that negative."
(See the first published natural-color photograph.)