As soon as someone shows me a picture in a case. There is a lot of confusion over the types of images found in nineteenth century cases. It all depends on what type of picture your ancestor requested as well as where they lived and when. Hold the picture in your palm and look at it straight on. Can you see the image? Now hold it at a 45 degree angle. A type of picture on a silver coated copper plate. Introduced in these likenesses stayed popular until approximately There is wiggle room in the end date.
Ambrotype (Positive Collodion)
Introduction : In this article, Mary Harrell-Sesniak shows how you can date old, undated family photos by first figuring out what type of photograph they are, and uses old newspapers and other sources to illustrate different types of photos. Mary is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. Do you have a box of old, undated family photos somewhere up in the attic—or maybe buried in the back of some closet?
Have you wondered how you were ever going to figure out who these family members might be, since the old photographs lack inscriptions or dates? Genealogy is a lot like detective work, gathering clues to make the pieces of your family puzzle fit together. Old, undated family photographs are pieces of evidence, clues that—if you examine closely enough—might yield some answers.
At first sight similar to a daguerreotype, the ambrotype too comes in a glass fronted case. Close inspection should reveal that the image is a negative image.
One of the most available, most misunderstood and certainly the most misidentified of all antiques are photographs. It would be difficult to find an antique dealer who has not at one time or another bought and sold 19th century photographs, yet, the average dealer would be hard pressed to correctly identify or date the different types of photographic images they routinely encounter. This exploded view of the anatomy of a photographic case shows the various levels of the image side of the case.
All images courtesy Dr. Anthony J. I bought my first 19th century photograph in on a farm in Pennsylvania, out of a barn that housed ducks and doubled as an antique shop. I was fascinated by the idea that antique images were a small window into the past; I have collected photographs ever since. To fund this newly acquired habit I would scour our New York City neighborhood with my red wagon and collect discarded furniture, glassware, artwork, and textiles, which I sold on the weekends at the 26th Street Flea Market in Manhattan.
I used the profits to subsidize my photograph collecting and purchased photographs each week from other dealers at the flea market who routinely saved images for me beneath their tables; I was the photograph boy. Soon I was buying photographs at auctions where they were usually sold as box lots with often more than one-hundred in a lot; the Pine Bush Grange Hall was my favorite source.
I soon learned to identify daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes ferrotype, melainotype, melanotype , cartes de visite carte-de-visite, CDV, CdV , cabinet cards, cyanotypes, and real-photo postcards and drove my family crazy with frequent testing.
How to Tell Cased Images Apart?
Early photos were the Daguerreotype, the Ambrotype, the Carte de Visite, Cabinet photos, and postcards. The Daguerreotype from used a metal plate, producing a reversed and positive image. The Ambrotype ‘s – mid ‘s was a negative image on a glass plate, also reversed.
Cased Images & Tintypes KwikGuide: A Guide to Identifying and Dating Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, and Tintypes Paperback – Aug. 8 by Gary W Clark.
Last week I began a discussion of the oldest photographs, all of which were produced as encased images. The daguerreotype was the earliest of these: it was a positive photographic image on a copper plate, produced from to the early s, and was most popular from to The ambrotype is the second kind of photographic image that you may find in a case.
Essentially this procedure involved coating a piece of glass with chemicals, putting the glass in the camera while still wet and exposing it to light in front of an image. The resulting picture was called an ambrotype. These were negative images. To make them appear positive, a piece of black cloth or paper was placed behind the image, or black shellac was applied to the back of the glass.
The resulting image was reversed, however, and represented what the person would look like in front of a mirror. Ambrotypes were very delicate images and had to be protected. For that reason, they were placed in cases.
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How to spot a collodion positive, also known as an ambrotype (early s–s). Dating ambrotype photographs is fairly easy for genealogists. It is a cased.
The term “case photograph” describes three types of 19th-century photographs that were generally kept in cases which were both decorative and protective. They are the daguerreotype , named after its inventor L. Daguerre; the ambrotype; and the tintype or ferrotype. Daguerreotypes were introduced in in Paris, France, constituting for some photo-historians the beginning of photography.
Ambrotypes and tintypes, made by the wet collodion process, originated in the s. Daguerreotypes continued to be made into the s. Ambrotypes were made for a little while longer. Tintypes survived into the 20th century in modified form as a type of instant portrait photograph. The mention in one breath of these three types of case photographs does not suggest that they have similar properties.
Whereas a daguerreotype is made by a unique photographic process that differs from any other silver halide process, ambrotypes and tintypes are made by the wet collodion process, which was the principal negative process in the second half of the 19 th century. The support material of daguerreotypes is a silverplated copper sheet. The image consists of microscopic particles of silver amalgam an alloy of mercury and silver located on the silver surface.
Daguerreotype, Ambrotype and Tintype: Telling Them Apart
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Dating the glass image: Ambrotypes were popular for a relatively brief period, from to While it is definitely not recommended to take.
Like a print on paper, it is viewed by reflected light. Like the daguerreotype , which it replaced, and like the prints produced by a Polaroid camera , each is a unique original that could only be duplicated by using a camera to copy it. The ambrotype was introduced in the s. During the s it was superseded by the tintype , a similar photograph on thin black-lacquered iron, hard to distinguish from an ambrotype if under glass. One side of a clean glass plate was coated with a thin layer of iodized collodion , then dipped in a silver nitrate solution.
The plate was exposed in the camera while still wet. Exposure times varied from five to sixty seconds or more depending on the brightness of the lighting and the speed of the camera lens. The plate was then developed and fixed.
How to Date Old Ancestor Photographs with Early Photo Types
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cases were used for Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes and tintypes. It is important to consider a photograph case when dating an image, though it.
This month, I decided to highlight ambrotypes and daguerreotypes since it is the th anniversary of the invention of the daguerreotype which revolutionized the history of photography. A recent donation A The image shows a busy street, but because the exposure had to continue for several minutes the moving traffic is not visible. At the lower right, however, a man apparently having his boots polished, and the person polishing them, were motionless enough for their images to be captured.
Daguerreotypes were created on a reflective mirror surface made on silver-plated copper, exposed to mercury then chemically treated to create an image that appears positive or negative depending on how you view the photograph. Daguerreotypes are easily recognized by their mirror-like surface, and a magnet can be used to distinguish tintypes from ambrotypes.
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How to Date Your Old Photos
The Daguerreotype was the first practical expert and proved popular with the photo. It was replaced by the cheaper Ambrotype, which was replaced in popular use by the tintype and albumen carte de visite. The dating waned in popularity by about , but was produced into the early dating.
Ambrotype: Early image on a transparent glass plate with a black backing. The glass plates do not bear dating marks as with the Daguerreotype plates.
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