The daguerreotype, was the first publicly announced photographic process, and for nearly twenty years, it was the one most commonly used. It was invented by Louis-Jaques-Mandé Daguerre and introduced worldwide in 1839. By 1860, new processes which were less expensive and produced more easily viewed images had almost completely replaced it. Viewing a daguerreotype is unlike looking at any other type of photograph. The image does not sit on the surface of the metal, but appears to be floating in space, and the illusion of reality, especially with examples that are sharp and well exposed is unique to the process. Several types of antique photographs, most often ambrotypes and tintypes, but sometimes even old prints on paper, are very commonly misidentified as daguerreotypes, especially if they are in the small, ornamented cases in which daguerreotypes made in the US and UK were usually housed. The name “daguerreotype” correctly refers only to one very specific image type and medium, the product of a process that was in wide use only from the early 1840s to the late 1850s.
Conversely, often hand colored or tinted, ambrotypes are an image developed on an early glass plate said to be invented by Englishman Frederick Scott Archer (1813-1857) in the mid-1850s. It is believed the word ambrotype derives from the Greek word “ambrotos”, or “immortal”. Most ambrotype photos found today are unsigned, whereby the photographer’s name and whereabouts are unknown and lost forever in time. The ambrotype was introduced in the early 1850’s and had a short-lived appearance before the popular carte de visite photograph took hold, and by 1864 the ambrotype had faded in popularity.
Tints can range from red rouge cheeks and lips, gold jewellery, watches, Victorian era chatelaines, clothes, buttons, pendants, and mourning and hair jewelry can be found with small swatches of hand coloring, which gives a wonderful hint of richness to the image. Tinting became very popular and is evident on this group.
So many untold tales with every glance…