Antique Photography - Daguerreotype, Ambrotype, Tintype, CDV


DAGUERREOTYPE is a photograph made by an early photographic process; the image was produced on a silver plate sensitized to iodine and developed in mercury vapor. Unlike the  modern photographs, it has no negative.  The daguerreotype photographic process was one of the first to permanently record and affix an image, and became the first commercially used photographic process. The daguerreotype is named after its inventor, French artist and chemist Louis J.M. Daguerre, who announced its perfection (after years of experimentation) in 1839.



AMBROTYPE is an early type of photograph made by imaging a negative on glass backed by a dark surface. Ambrotypes were often hand-tinted. Untinted ambrotypes are grayish-white and have less contrast and brilliance than daguerreotypes. The ambrotype was much less expensive to produce than the daguerreotype. By the late 1850s, the ambrotype was overtaking the daguerreotype in popularity; nevertheless, by the mid-1860s, the ambrotype itself was supplanted by the tintype and other processes.

TINTYPE or FERROTYPE,  a positive photograph made directly on an iron (thus ferro) plate varnished with a thin sensitized film,  was developed in the United States in the mid-19th century. By the end of the Civil War, the tintype overtook the ambrotype in popularity to become the most common photographic process until the introduction of modern photography. Tintypes continued to be made until the 1950s. Like the ambrotype, the image is a negative, but appears to be a positive image when viewed against the black background. The tintype was a minor improvement to the ambrotype, replacing the glass plate of the original process with a thin piece of black tin. The new materials reduced the cost considerably. The image proved to be very durable because it was trapped between the metal and varnished surface. 

CARTE de VISITE (CDV) was invented by photographer Adolphe Disdéri in 1854. The CDV was very popular from the 1860s to the 1880s. It was used as a photographic calling card, developed for the Victorian practice of using visiting or calling cards to communicate with acquaintances.  Taken with a special camera that produced eight poses on one negative, the CDV created a market for trading and collecting celebrity photographs in France and England; they served to connect the rich and famous with commoners. Copies of cartes-de-visite of royal or famous figures were sold to the public at large. The CDVs were placed in carte albums which were the forerunners of photo albums.

Naughty But Nice
The Victorian lady undressed in antique photographs.

Antique photos featuring sites around the world and popular topics such as expositions, industry, disasters, and portraits of presidents.

Magic Lantern Shows
The American Magic-Lantern Theater recreates the Victorian magic lantern show.

The Magic Lantern  
Virtual display of a collection of magic lantern slides at the Musée McCord Museum.

Magic Lantern Castle Museum 
The Magic Lantern is the earliest form of slide projector.

The Daguerreian Society and the Daguerreotype 
Society dedicated to the art, history and science of the daguerreotype. Features galleries, extensive resources, and information.