VOGUE!

Images of Kodaque’s hideous grin were burned into the surface of the silver slides.

 
Strike the pose.

Necessity is the mother of invention. In 1839 France, the invention was very necessary. The guillotine had been long since mothballed and as such, the deterrent to crime that it had been, was no longer effective. Every broken law from pick pocketing to mopery (exposing one’s self to a blind person) made a jump in the frequency of occurrence. La Belle France was in dire straits. She needed a punishment befitting such heinous misdeeds.

Enter Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, a wild-eyed dreamer and part-time inventor; an unsuccessful part-time inventor. His prototype for the earliest known garbage compactor involved a large swine and a fifteen hundred pound boulder (one ton would have been over-kill). Even Daguerre’s concrete sailing vessel meant to revolutionized the French Navy, although quite indestructible, was another idea he could not float past the government. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t float at all. His latest experiments with silver-plated mirrors gave a glimmer of hope to Louis, but not nearly enough Francs with which to fill his pockets.

But the punishment mechanism intrigued Louis-Jacques. There had been extensive research conducted for Old French medical journals regarding a restraint system for the treatment of the mentally deranged. All of his early attempts failed miserably when the retention bolts punctured the skull and penetrated the brain rendering it useless. Daguerre knew the process still held promise. But, how could he re-tool such a contraption to control criminal activity?

Inspiration begot perspiration. The correct ratio between the two had yet to be devised (no known formula existed as of yet). He just knew he had worked his posterior ragged. If he could only combine the head restraint with his silver-plated mirrors… Little did Daguerre know, but his hard work was about to pay dividends.

By August, his device was ready for demonstrations. E.M. Kodaque, the most feared killer in all of France, was brought in to receive his “punishment”. Daguerre strapped Kodaque to the seat of this contraption; his head placed against the prominent bolts. Daguerre’s theory suggested that a quick flash of high-intensity light when reflected off of his polished mirrors, would blind Kodaque’s eyes driving his head back into the pointed posts extinguishing all evil thought!

Unfortunately for Louis-Jacques, his device again failed. The cold bolts only served to tickle Kodaque causing him to smile uncontrollably. The burst of luminance did nothing to inflict injury to the victim. Contrary to his beliefs, it only caused Daguerre to ruin perfectly good mirrored plates, when images of Kodaque’s hideous grin were burned into the surface of the silver slides. Journalists far and wide mocked Daguerre’s seemingly humane “torture”, extolling how the victim smiled throughout the horrendous “Daugerre-type” execution. Kodaque ridiculed Louis-Jacques further by taking up Daguerre’s wasted mirrors and hanging them upon his wall.

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre had the last laugh. Admittedly, he was a lousy executioner. But no one could dispute the fact that he took a great portrait!

Strike the pose.

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