In the Eye of the Camera, 1840-1867

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Unidentified woman, about 1860
About 1860, 19th century
7.5 x 6 cm
Gift of Mrs. Laurence Fuller
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  female (19035) , Photograph (77678) , portrait (53878)
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Keys to History

In the mid-1850s, another photographic process became popular, following the daguerreotype. The collodion, or wet-plate, process quickly replaced the daguerreotype as the preferred form of photography. It was faster, cheaper and easier to learn. Three main forms of collodion photographs were sold to the public: the ambrotype (on glass), the ferrotype (on metal coated with black enamel) and paper prints made from glass negatives (the true negative-positive process).

Ambrotypes are actually underexposed wet-plate negatives. When placed against a dark background, they appear to be positive. They were popular from about 1852 to 1863.