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The woman rests her elbow on a table, her arm next to an elegant vase of flowers and a cased photograph. The photograph on the table appears to be either an ambrotype or a daguerreotype. It may have been included to represent someone who had recently died. These smartly-dressed, serious looking men are pictured in front of a painted background of a grand fireplace.

They are all in suits and have flowers in their buttonholes, perhaps indicating this was taken on a special occasion.


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I have a set of early photographs of Niagara Falls, taken probably in the mid to late s. They are half plate and are positives on glass. It seems that two sheets of glass are sandwiched together and the image is therefore protected. These are positive images, not negative, and are transparent. I have been unable to find anything out about this type of photograph.

Could these be a form of ambrotype, perhaps made by using the original as a negative and making a contact print onto another sheet of glass?

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I have a large collection of photographs on glass and am not sure exactly what they are and do not know of anywhere I could take them for assessment — I am in SW Scotland if you know of anywhere that might be willing to have a look and provide further information I would greatly apprectiate it. I have some pieces of the building by the Milken brothers new york in during the Porfiriato in the city of mexico what could be the greatest work of latinoamerica these collodion negatives could help me figure out the price and if someone interested in these beautiful pictures collection thanks.


  1. My Adventures with Ambrotypes.
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I have just discovered three copper plates with images of people, presumably relatives, impregnated onto the copper. You have to tilt the plates in a particular direction to view the images, and these were almost sent for metal recycling. I would love to know if they were photograph plates but am not sure where to start enquiring. What you have there is a Daguerreotype — and early processes invented in by Louis Daguerre. The impression is made onto a polished silver surface that was electroplated onto a piece of copper, sensitized and developed in mercury vapour.

I have recently discovered what appears to be an Ambrotype photograph whilst looking through old photos from my Grandfather. Would you be able to help identify if this is, in fact, an Ambrotype and if it is a British or American photo? The clothing the woman is wearing bears a real resemblance to the American attire of that period, although I have got that wrong. Thank you, this is the first time I have heard about ambrotypes! I have a picture of my grandmother on curved glass. I found it without a frame, so I had one custom-made to protect it. She was born in Scotland in , married in Is it likely an ambrotype since both dates are late on the timeline?

Your email address will not be published. By Colin Harding on 24 April How to spot a collodion positive, also known as an ambrotype early s—s. Date your old photographs using format and process — how to spot a daguerreotype s — s National Media Museum blog. A most helpful introduction to the subject Colin.

How to Tell Cased Images Apart? | Maureen Taylor

Print this Page A A A. Meet Our Librarians Expand your search with our team. Contact Us We would be glad to assist you. What treasures I've found! I am going to talk about three of those treasures in this article. At first I didn't notice anything different about these photographs and the tintypes surrounding them. Then I picked one of them up and looked at it closely. It was an ambrotype! I was very excited! I became even more excited when I spotted two more. Not only was I looking at three ambrotypes, they were all in pretty good shape.

Without going into copious amounts of detail, here are the basics. An ambrotype is a wet collodion negative on glass. Different photographers used different techniques when creating these. Remember the days before digital cameras? There used to be things called negatives.

Delving Into Daguerreotypes

We used to take those negatives to photo shops and those photo shops would develop those negatives, put them on paper and give them back to us. However, think of that negative if it was on a piece of treated glass. This allowed the negative-looking image to appear as a positive. Most ambrotypes are reversed laterally; which means they are like your reflection in the mirror - reversed.

Sometimes the ambrotype was painted on the other side. Some were varnished on the face and some were sandwiched between glasses. When looking at an ambrotype you need to examine carefully to see which side has the emulsion. Ambrotypes became pretty popular for a short time. They were a cheaper than a daguerreotype, but as you might guess, they were extremely fragile.

On to my three ambrotypes and my attempt to establish a time period for them. But before I continue my adventure, a word of warning. Treat an ambrotype as an artifact — all of it. This artifact includes not only the glass image, but the mat, preserver foil strip , and the case it is in. A careful examination should be done.

In this case all the images were scanned, front and back, then put away - more on that later. All further examination of these three images was done by using my TIFF scans, not the fragile artifacts. I could not find any photographer information. There was nothing, except the ambrotypes. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that these people were related. But when I did some comparison of the three, I did find some slight connections. The mat on two of them is the same and very similar to the mat on the Unidentified Teenage Girl. The foil strips are all slightly different.

I also noticed the chair in each one. I believe that is the same chair in each one of the photographs, even though it is shot at different angles. So, what does that mean? What that means to me is that these three young people were maybe related, knew each other or used the same photographer. I will be honest, when I look at their faces I don't see any resemblance between them. My guess is that they are probably related, but I cannot prove it. The adventure continues — trying to establish a date. Remember when trying to date photographs, everything has to be taken into consideration.

I started with the history of the ambrotype technique. In , Frederick Scott Archer introduced the wet plate collodion process. He did not take out a patent on it. Then in James Ambrose Cutting submitted the first official patent. Needless to say there were numerous photographers who were a tad bit upset with Mr. In the United States, the ambrotype lasted from about to ; it lasted longer in Europe.

Could these images be from or ? Let's do a little deeper searching. Oh boy — more adventure! So, I did an experiment. I happen to have access to a flatbed scanner which can scan slides and negatives. I scanned the back using the negative setting.

Ambrotype process photography

I was very pleased with the results, and, on top of a nice negative, another path opened for me. All three of the images had a lovely "ruby" color to them. You see what just happened? I have another date to work with.

How to spot a collodion positive, also known as an ambrotype (early 1850s–1880s)

But the ambrotypes holds more clues. These particular ambrotypes were not in a case, but the mat and strip of foil were still intact. Guess what — even this part of ambrotypes have a history.

Daguerreotypes

Early ambrotypes had pretty plain mats and foil strips. The foil strips of the early ambrotypes did not have reinforced corners. Around , the designs became more intricate and the corners reinforced.