Daguerreotype, Ambrotype, Ferrotype, oh my! (1 Viewer)


I have a collection of daguerreotypes here. Really an amazing method. I wish that I had a way to make them. Of course heating mercury and using the vapors to develop the plates is not exactly safe....

Oddly, I, too, have a collection of daguerreotypes, inherited from my father. He was a collector of antique photography, which is why I know about things like cyanotypes. Making daguerreotypes is not only dangerous, as Bill says, but technically difficult. It's an exacting process. It lasted about 10 years commercially, and was replaced by the much simpler and cheaper tintype (or ferrotype, I think it's called.) The daguerreotypes are beautiful. They have a haunting clarity. It's weird to look at a photo from the 1840s that is so clear the subjects look alive.
It lasted about 10 years commercially, and was replaced by the much simpler and cheaper tintype

I think you missed a step there. Didn't the ambrotype replace the daguerreotype (which was preceded by the albumen print) before the tintype came along?

And while we're on the subject of very old photographs, have you guys ever seen a painted tintype where an artist (or colorist) would paint over the image on the plate? Those are pretty neat and often more than a little bit creepy, but hands down, the creepiest photos of the time (dags, ambros and tins) were post-mortems in which the eyes were painted open.
I think you missed a step there. Didn't the ambrotype replace the daguerreotype (which was preceded by the albumen print) before the tintype came along?

It goes like this:

Daguerreotype (photo on polished silver plate)
Ambrotype (Photo on glass)
Ferrotype (Photo on tin)
CDV (Photo on paper)

Maybe tintypes and ambrotypes are painted on. They would usually color the cheeks and also paint in jewelry.

The post mortems are creepy. The fact that people actually collect photos of dead babies creeps me out. They are called "Sleeping beauties", which in itself is very creepy. Photography was very new in the 1850's. Infant mortality was also very high. Distraught parents wanted a photo of their baby to remember them by. They would have a photo taken of the dead baby and keep that as there were no other pictures taken of this baby. They are now so collected that I have seen that most babies are "market" as dead, as it increases their value.

I have never seen a post mortem of a baby or adult with eyes painted over. That is creepy.

Speaking of creepy. Here is the post mortem of Edgar Allan Poe....


You guys have the order right on the various processes, although -- as you probably know -- there's some overlap, and many other processes that were less popular.

I have a huge tintype that is painted over with either a very chalky paint, or it's gone over in pastels, and it's weird. Daguerreotypes were also painted on sometimes -- clothes colored, cheeks reddened, gold added to jewelry.

Ambrotype and tintype are basically the same technique -- a negative image on a dark surface so it looks positive. Ambrotype is on glass that is painted black on the back, tintype on a sheet of tin coated with black paint (or something). I have a couple ambrotypes. They are rarer than daguerreotypes, which are rarer than tintypes, which are rarer than ambrotypes (early paper photos).
speaking of creepy post mortem baby pics etc, have you heard of a book called "Wisconsin Death Trip"?
here's a blurb about it :

The book is based on a collection of late 19th century photographs by Jackson County, Wisconsin photographer Charles Van Schaick, mostly in the city of Black River Falls, and local news reports from the same period. It emphasizes the harsh aspects of Midwestern rural life under the pressures of crime, disease, mental illness, and urbanization.

very weird and creepy, reading these last posts reminded me i had it, and i found some pics from it online if you're so inclined :


ps - that pic of poe - he looks healthier than some of the photos i've seen of him when he was alive!

Interesting article here, though I could have sworn that the first photograph was a type of egg albumin print. Could be that that was the first photo on paper.
"Wisconsin Death Trip" is one of those books that I saw ages ago, when it was new, and picked it up several times, thought it looked interesting, but didn't have the money to buy, and then never saw it again. Funny you should mention it, d gray, as I was thinking of that book a couple days ago.
Bruno Dante -- that is cool. What is equally cool to me is that I have a tintype of my father during WWII, in his army uniform, taken about 1944-45. Most people don't know that tintypes were still being made as late as the 1950s. Most of the ones you see are 1880s or so to 1910-ish. But they were cheap and easy to make and kept being produced in smaller numbers for decades. It blew my mind when I found a tintype of my father as an adult. The later tintypes are scarce and have a bizarre look to them. I only have a few of these.
Yeah, equally cool ;)
What I love about the one I have is the haunting quality and the clarity you mentioned before. It must be about 130 years old.
Quite fascinated by the 'Wisconsin Death Trip' post as well. After looking on the web at some info surrounding it, I think I'll have to check it out.
I don't know if it's been mentioned already, but the daguerreotype is a negative image on a polished silver plate. The image appears positive when viewed at an angle. I think the extreme clarity that makes it so life-like is due to the fact that the silver is mirror smooth, and probably also to the method the photographic medium is applied -- as a vapor, I think. I'm not sure about the later, but it doesn't look like it's coated on in any usual way, as it is on a tintype. Daguerreotypes do have a haunting look. I wrote an unpublished horror story about them several years ago. I've thought of self-publishing it using some daguerreotypes as the cover art. Of course, a photo of one never has the same effect as an original.

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