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A Brief History of Photography
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Because images are such an important part of the Authentic History Center, this section was created to give very brief descriptions of the evolution of photograph technology, accompanied by examples of each technology.
 

DAGUERREOTYPE: 1839-1860s
This technology was named after French theatre owner and inventor, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, who introduced the public to his new invention in 1839. Perhaps the most beautiful of photographic processes, it uses a polished, silver plated sheet of metal and is easily recognized by its mirror-like surface. The plate has to be held at the correct angle to the light for the image to be visible, but the image is extremely sharp and detailed. Daguerreotypes were typically sealed in one half of a hinged case that was convenient both for transport and display. Daguerreotypes were produced in various sizes and remain highly collectible today, their value heavily dependent on condition and subject matter:

Daguerreotype Plate Sizes

Whole plate 6-1/2" x 8-1/2" 
Half plate 4-1/4" x 5-1/2"
Quarter plate 3-1/4" x 4-1/4"
Sixth plate 2-3/4" x 3-1/4"
Ninth plate 2" x 2-1/2"
Sixteenth plate 1-3/8" x 1-5/8"
Daguerreotype
Girl holding 1847 almanac
Daguerreotype
Girls, hand-tinted (3 views)
Woman in Bonnet
Woman in bonnet (3 views)
Daguerreotype
Former President Andrew Jackson
Daguerreotype
Frederick Douglass
Daguerreotype
Isaac Jefferson
Daguerreotype
Monticello's Lucy, c.1845
     
 
GLASS PLATE NEGATIVES: 1851-1920s
Almost at the same time that Daguerre was perfecting his technique, an English inventor named William Henry Fox Talbot was working on another photographic process involving the creation of paper negatives that could be used to make positive paper prints. His process, called the Calotype, eventually became the basis for modern film technology, but it did not arrive in time to stop "Daguerreotypomania" from sweeping america. In 1851 English photographer Frederick Scott Archer perfected a procedure similar to Talbot's, but it used a smooth glass negative rather than a paper one. This allowed for better, longer-lasting images, and the ability to make multiple prints from one negative. Although they did not immediately replace daguerreotypes, glass plate negatives became one of the most common types of photographs. The technology was gradually replaced by film in the early 1900s.
Glass Plate Negative
Family of five (scanned as a negative image)
Glass Plate Negative
Soldier and boy, 1919 (scanned as a positive image)
Glass Plate Negative
Soldier-Boy, 1919 (scanned as a positive image) (2 views)
Glass Plate Negative
Children in school (scanned as a positive image)
Glass Plate Negative
Girls with bicycle (scanned as a positive image)
Glass Plate Negative
Horse-drawn wagon (scanned as a positive image)
       
 
AMBROTYPE : 1854-1860s
A glass negative with a black background that makes the image appear positive. Like the Daguerreotype, it is a cased photo. They lost popularity in the early 1860s when tintypes and CDVs replaced them. Many vintage photographs sold at auction today are sold as Daguerreotypes, but are actually Ambrotypes. The Ambrotype does not have the mirror-like quality of the Daguerreotype.
Ambrotype
Lady with hand-tinted ribbon (2 views)
Ambrotype
Lady, full-case view (3 views)
Ambrotype
Gentleman (2 views)
Ambrotype
Lady: Evangeline
Ambrotype
Uniformed Man with Gun (3 views)
 
TINTYPE: 1856-1900
The image is produced on a thin tin plate. Like the Ambrotype, it uses a negative image on a darker background to create the appearance of a positive image. The tintype largely replaced the ambrotype in America by the end of the Civil War. It was cheaper than the ambrotype, the process was faster, and they have proven to be a durable image.
Tintype
African American man in hat

Tintype
Boy with hat

Tintype
Firefighter (2 views)
Tintype
Girls with umbrella/parasol
Tintype
Mother & children
Tintype
Musicians
Tintype
Nez Perce child
Tintype
Nez Perce woman
   
 
 
CARTE-De-VISITE (CDV): 1860-1900
A card mounted photograph measuring 2.5 x 4 inches; produced at a photo studio. The CDV was patented in Paris in 1854, and achieved popularity in the United States in 1860. It used the albumen found in egg whites to bind photographic chemicals to thin paper, which was then mounted on a thicker paper card. The CDV, mounted, measures 2.5 × 4 inches, the size of a visiting card. They became enormously popular and were traded among friends and visitors. "Cardomania" led to the publication and collection of photographs of prominent persons. Albums for the collection and display of cards became a common fixture in Victorian parlors. By the early 1870s, the CDV's popularity waned, replaced by cabinet cards.
CDV
Girls, 1861 (2 views)
CDV
Actress Agnes Ethel
CDV
Civil War Officers
CDV
Frelsens Employees (2 views)
CDV
Sojourner Truth
CDV
Woman with Necklace (2 views)
CDV
Woman with Parasol (2 views)
     
 
CABINET CARD: 1866-1900s
A card mounted photograph, typically 4.25 x 6.5 inches
Cabinet Card
Gentleman; Cheboygan, MI
Cabinet Card
Gentleman; Madison, WI (2 views)
Cabinet Card
Woman; Lowell, MA
   
 
CARD MOUNTED: 1870s-1900s
Came in a variety of standardized sizes, some of the most common being called Victoria, Imperial, Prominade, Panel, and Boudoir.
Card Mounted
Man; 3 5/8 x 4 5/8
Card Mounted
Children; 5 3/4 x 7 3/4
     
 
POSTCARD (Real Photo Postcard): 1893-1930
An image printed on thin cardboard pre-printed on the reverse to be used as a postcard. These were popular as easy gifts for family relatives.
RRPC
Girl with Dog (2 views)
       
 
STEREOVIEW: 1858-1920s
Uses two nearly identical images to create the illusion of depth. A Stereoviewer is required to be able to see the 3-D illusion.
Stereoview
Rochester, NY, State Street
Stereoptic Viewer
Stereoptic Viewer (2 views)
     
 
The Brownie: 1900
In 1900, Kodak introduced the Brownie camera. Starting at $1.00, it was the first camera priced within reach of the average consumer. The camera took 2 1/4 square photographs on roll film. This Kodak Brownie, named after a popular cartoon series created by Canadian Palmer, Cox, revolutionized the industry and popularized the home "snapshot." Kodak went on to produce many different Brownie models and were popular well into the 1960s.
Brownie number 1
Kodak Brownie #1 (4 views)
 
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Last modified July 11, 2012