ALBUMEN (Egg) PRINT - The albumen print was invented in 1850 by Louis-Desire Blanquart-Evrard (1802-1872), but was rarely used in the United States until 1860. Up until 1890 it was the most prevalent type of print. Albumen was the term used for eggs in the 19th century. Egg white (albumen), sugar from grape juice, salt (sodium chloride) and silver nitrate were applied to paper to produce the albumen print. The albumen prints were mounted on various-sized cards to prevent the thin fragile paper from curling or tearing. For the first time in photographic history there was a means of inexpensively
producing multiple images from a single negative.

The following types of card photographs were used:
Carte-de-visite (CDV) 2 6/16" x 4" inches
Cabinet card (Imperial Carte-de-visite) 4 1/4" x 6 ½"
Victoria card 3 1/4" x 5"
Promenade card 4" x 7"
Imperial card 12 3/4" x 17 3/8"
Stereograph 3" x 7"

AMBROTYPE (Collodion positive) - The Ambrotype was invented in the summer of 1847 by EZEKIEL HAWKINS in Cincinnati, Ohio. It first happened by producing a positive photograph on glass; which resembled a negative. Then painting the back with black paint, producing a positive image. Ambrotypes (which were called Collodion positive in England) were named after JAMES AMBROSE CUTTING (1814-1867) of Boston, Massachusetts, who in July 4, 1854 patented a specific variety which was superior to all other varieties of his time. Mr. Ambrose new "ambrotype patent" became very popular and easily accessible. The first ambrotype exhibition in the United States was in December of 1854. The popularity of Ambrotypes slowly died out in the late 1850's and was totally over-shadowed by the new forms of photography in 1860. In very secluded areas they were continued until the early 1860's.


Sixteenth plate 1 ½ x 1 3/4 inches
Ninth plate 2 x 2 ½ inches
Sixth plate 2 3/4 x 3 1/4 inches
Quarter plate 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches
Half plate 4 ½ x 5 ½ inches
Whole plate 6 ½ x 8 ½ inches
Double whole plate 8 ½ x 13 inches

CABINET CARD - Towards the end of 1865 Mathew Brady began manufacturing "Cabinet cards" as they were later called in England. He called them "Imperial Carte-de-Visite". Cabinet card photography did not become all that popular in the United States until the early 1870's. Prior to 1870 they were almost never used. This style of photograph lasted till the turn of the century.

CASES - See Snap Cases and Gutta-Percha Cases.

CARTE-DE-VISITE - The Carte-de-visite (CDV), was the style of photograph which was universally adopted for photographic portraiture in 1860. The first carte-de-visite was patented in Paris in 1854 by Adolphe-Eugene Disderi. It later spread to London and then to New York. As its name suggests, it was very similar in size to the common visiting card of that period. It consisted of a photograph that was generally printed on albumen paper and then mounted on cards measuring 2.5 x 4 inches.

DAGUERREOTYPE - Daguerreotypes were the first form of photography to become available to the world. A Daguerreotype is a highly detailed photograph developed on a silver plated sheet of copper. It was invented by L.J.M. Daguerre in France and made available to the public in 1839. They were made in different sizes (see Ambrotypes for the measurements). The Daguerreotype process slowly died out in the late 1850's with the invention of the Ambrotype, tintype, and carte-de-visite. Daguerreotypes were so expensive, time consuming and impractical that with the invention of the carte-de-visite they received their final death blow. (For more information see, L.J.M. Daguerre and S.F.B. Morse)

GUTTA-PERCHA (Thermoplastic) PHOTOGRAPH CASES - In 1854 the first Gutta-Percha photograph cases were made. Gutta-Percha (Gutta = A drop, Percha = gum tree) is the purified and coagulated exudate, reddish to brown in color from various saponaceous Malayan trees (genera Palaquium and Payena). In the 19th century they used Gutta-Percha for many different purposes such as combs, mirror cases, jewelry, frames, etc. Today it is used for electrical insulators, dental plastic, etc. There were approximately 800 different variations of gutta-percha photograph cases. ( See Snap Cases)

Example of one of the companies "Improved Union Cases, S. Peck's Patent, OCTOBER 3, 1854., S. Peck & Co. are the sole manufacturers of the genuine Union Cases, of which, the latest improvement, consists in the beautiful shades of color, and fineness of texture, and of having the hinges inserted in metal; thus preventing the breaking out of the hinge."

MAGIC LANTERN SLIDE (SLIDE) - Around 1849 W & F Langenheim of Philadelphia introduced Magic Lantern Slides (Hyalotypes) with photographs on them. Before that they were only hand-painted images on glass slides. They were positive pictures on a piece of glass which were covered by a second piece of glass. The slides were made for use with the magic lanterns which projected them on a flat surface. A period advertisement states the following: "On account of the greater accuracy of the smallest details which are drawn and fixed on glass from nature, by the camera obscura, with a fidelity truly astonishing. By magnifying these new slides through the magic lantern, the representation is nature itself again..." Many people believed they were actually witnessing something magical and unearthly when they viewed the projections; that is how it acquired its name.

SNAP CASES - The Snap Cases were made in various styles, sizes, and qualities. They were generally made of paper mache and covered with thin leather for binding. Inside the case they used different fabrics such as crimson silk, velvet, or satin. The image was sealed with a piece of glass and a gold gilded brass matting which often had different designs. It was then inserted in a very thin gold gilt brass outer frame called a preserver. The cases were fastened with hooks or clasps.

SLIDE - See Magic Lantern slide.

STAMP TAX - Photographs transported in the mail were subject to a stamp tax between September 1, 1864 - August 1, 1866. In December of 1865 Troy and Albany, two New York photographers, sent a petition to the US congress which led to the removal of the stamp tax.

STEREOGRAPH - As early as 1838 Charles Wheatstone wrote that if two identical drawings were place side by side and viewed simultaneously yet independently by each eye, depth perception would be created in the mind (3D effect). In 1841 C. Wheatstone made the first daguerreotype and calotype stereoview. Then in 1849 Sir David Brewster invented the first lenticular stereoscope. In 1854 William Langenheim introduced the first paper photograph stereoviews.

TINTYPE (Melainotype, Ferrotype) - Invented by Hamilton L. Smith (1819-1903) in Ohio and patented February 19, 1856 for the first time by Peter Neff: "Melainotype plate for Neff's Pat (Patent) 19 Feb 56 (1856)". It consisted of a light-sensitive collodion emulsion applied on thin metal plates. Tintypes were never made of tin! They were made of iron.




Copyright 2004, Keya Morgan. All Rights Reserved.
All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced transmitted, displayed, distributed, published or broadcast without prior written consent.