History of Photography Identification Guide
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Until 1839 the World Was Blind... then Photography Was Born!
This listing is merely an attempt to present the basic groupings of antique photographic portraits. We hope that it will aid you in research and identification of your treasured family photographs.
Daguerrotype - Two to three inch miniatures with the reflective image directly on the silver coated copper plate. They were presented in and ornate velvet or satin lined case and covered with glass for protection. Some quite rare, a valuable find.
Ambrotype - One kind of image. It is a wet plate glass negative. When viewed against white, the image looks like a pale negative, but when a black background was used, usually fabric, paper or enameled metal, then a properly exposed positive is revealed. Sometimes tinted with color.
Tintype- The collodian process negative was coated on a thin black lacquered metal plate. This made the image appear positive. They became popular during the Civil War, and are the perhaps the most commonly found antique photograph. The tintype could be developed very quickly, so the customer could carry his portrait with him. Not the same quality as the ambrotype but cheaper to produce. Sizes ranged from the very small "dime size" to almost 11 x 14".
Cabinet Photograph- The most common format of the paper print era. Generally a 4 x 5" photo mounted on a 4 x 6" pasteboard card. The photographer placed his name on the front and as an advertisement his company name on the back. The "Cabinet" was by far the most popular, but the most fashionable vogue of all was the ``Carte De Viste". These were produced in quantity through the use of a multi lens camera and were made famous by the vanity of Napoleon III, who had them printed as calling cards. This craze swept across the world with unprecedented speed. Most homes had a small basket at the entry where visitors could leave their cards.
Convex Oval- At one time the absolute rage in photo-portraiture, the
13 1/2" x 191/2" convex prints were presented with oval frames and convex glass. The process of producing a very weak image and then a dding some charcoal ``art" as enhancement was the great selling point. Some prints are seen to have the same characteristics, but are presented without bubbling and were printed in a variety of shapes
Stereograph- These were produced using a specially devised double lens camera that sees just as our eyes do. Each image is half of a two image panel that's meant to be viewed through a hand held stereoscopic device. This made three dimensional photography a reality and opened up a new world to the Victorians. They became the "home movies" of early 20th Century America.
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