The Daguerreotypes process was announced to the world in 1839 by Frenchman Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, the British Fox Talbot announced his process shortly afterwards. The actual inventor of photography has always been in debate. Its undeniable that Fox Talbots invention led to the modern negative/positive process but Daguerreotypes have a magic all their own. The process consisted of placing a sensitized silver plate in a camera, exposing it for many seconds and then developing it by fuming it with mercury. The finished picture, still a negative, was usually sealed in a case to prevent tarnishing of the silver. When viewed it was essential to reflect something dark on the silver to make the picture look positive. In England the process was restricted by patent, but in the rest of the world it was free to all. Because the license was expensive only the top photographers in England used it.
The cased photograph proved popular with the public and once the un-patented wet plate process was invented by Frederic Scott Archer in 1850 Ambrotypes became popular. Ambrotype was the name given to the process of taking a wet plate negative and painting the back black so it appeared as a positive. Ambrotypes often used the same type of case as the more expensive Daguerreotype.
Later a similar, even cheaper, process was used, this used a piece of black painted metal with a photographic emulsion coated on the paint. When exposed and developed it appeared as a positive. This was called a Tin Type and proved popular with itinerant photographers and at seaside resorts.
Paper prints were also used, initially from Fox Talbots Callotype process and later from the wet plate negatives.
All the pictures in this part of the web site were created directly on a flat-bed scanner.