John Adams Whipple

John Adams Whipple

John Adams Whipple

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John Adams Whipple (September 10, 1822–1891) was an American inventor and early photographer. He was the first in the United States to manufacture the chemicals used for daguerreotypes; he pioneered astronomical and night photography; he was a prize-winner for his extraordinary early photographs of the moon; and he was the first to produce images of stars other than the sun (the star Vega and the Mizar-Alcor stellar sextuple system .


Whipple was born in Grafton, Massachusetts, to Jonathan and Melinda (Grout) Whipple. While a boy he was an ardent student of chemistry, and on the introduction of the daguerreotype process into the United States (1839–1840) he was the first to manufacture the necessary chemicals.

His health having become impaired through this work, he devoted his attention to photography. He made his first daguerreotype in the winter of 1840, "using a sun-glass for a lens, a candle box for a camera, and the handle of a silver spoon as a substitute for a plate." Over time he became a prominent daguerreotype portraitist in Boston. In addition to making portraits for the Whipple and Black studio, Whipple photographed important buildings in and around Boston, including the house occupied by General George Washington in 1775 and 1776 (photographed circa 1855, now in the Smithsonian).

Whipple married Elizabeth Mann on May 12, 1847.

Between 1847 and...
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