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What Have We Here?

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  #1  
Old 12-04-2001, 09:31 PM
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What Have We Here?

Here's your clues: The image is on what appears to be a thin copper plate. Between it and the cover glass is a brass mat. If you turn the image a certain way, the image almost disappears. Turn it a little more, and it appears as a negative image. What type of image is it, and when was the image made? Want to take a guess without researching it?

Ed
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Old 12-04-2001, 09:33 PM
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Hmmm...without researching is the killer

I'll guess "ambrotype", circa 1850.
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Old 12-04-2001, 09:36 PM
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Here's the image (I hope)

image
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File Type: jpg ambro_16.jpg (87.5 KB, 21 views)
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Old 12-04-2001, 09:39 PM
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Cool, it was a guess.

Back in the stoneage I managed a camera shop that had a little museum of photography. Most of it was worthless stuff, but there were some very old images, including ambrotypes. They're rediculously fragile, though.
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Old 12-04-2001, 09:45 PM
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Good guess. I wouldn't have had a clue. Although, with what I've learned from Tom and you guys on this site, I was a little closer to guessing correctly. Great example Ed but I hope to God no body ever brings me one to restore.
DJ
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Old 12-05-2001, 01:42 AM
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it sure is pretty, the frame and the mat, so delicate.

with one that bad, i'm always glad to have ps just for my own satisfaction, to fix enough to see who's under there, but i agree with dj re doing it for anybody else. yikes.
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Old 12-05-2001, 07:59 AM
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From your description, I'd say Daguerrotype, c. 1850's which has been placed in an ambrotype frame enclosure. The hair style, partly covering the ear and brushed back is suggestive of the period 1850-mid 1860. The coloration could be due to gold toning which was pretty common with the photos of most types--both on paper and on metal/glass supports. Could be wrong though...but I'm pretty sure it isnt a Poloroid shot. Tom
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Old 12-05-2001, 09:50 AM
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Do we have a winner? I tend to agree with Tom, but there is still a question in my mind. Ambrotypes (the images were on glass) and dagurreotypes went through a period when both were made. The photographer Rehn, whose name appears on the mat, was first known as a daguerreotypist, but also used other types as well. Knowing that, it does not seem out of the question that a daguerreotype was fitted with a mat which identifies it as an ambrotype. I'm pretty sure the metal is copper since a magnet does not grab the metal, thereby eliminating a tintype. The image also does not look or feel like any tintype I've ever seen. This is an image that I bought quite a few years ago, before I knew anything about the fragility of some types of images. Therefore, it was put into a drawer (not protected by glass) with the copper plated image vulnerable to damage by being rubbed by cloth items. It has remained there for probably 20 years or more until I recently rediscovered it. It has not deteriorated or had any parts of the image destroyed since I've had it to the best of my knowledge. I've always been under the impression that a daguerreotype was *much* more fragile than this. Since the daguerreotype is the only type of image widely produced on a copper plate, I have to think that's what it is. There's a lesson to be learned here. If you should get a cased image for restoration, consider the fact that the parts that make up the package (the image itself, the glass, the mat) might not necessarily be the original packaging. So all parts of the package should be examined and researched to reach a conclusion about exactly what it is, and when it was made.

Hey Tom, any feedback on the fragility of the daguerreotype? Maybe it isn't as fragile as I thought.

Ed
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Old 12-05-2001, 11:02 AM
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Ed, Damage to the Daguerrotype comes most commonly from tarnish which occurs as the original seal deteriorates or is breached by removal of the plate from its protective enclosure and the effects of relative humidity and air pollutants is brought to bear on the plate as well as improper display, especially in direct sunlight or under Flourescent lights ( the UV rays are death to photos). Damage also occurs, of the most serious nature, from attempts to clean the plate by wiping it. One strong wipe, image gone. Contributing to the deterioration can be the glass cover itself, as in that period glass contained many nasty impurities which can leach out and attack the image. Add to this the problem of an improperly plated or cleaned plate prior to treatment with the sensitizing agent which can cause the image to actually peel from its silver support and you can see that the problems of preserving a Dag are not inconsiderable. That being said, they are not as delicate as one might assume although great care should be exercised in their storage and handling. If the image in question is on a copper plate, and the image must be viewed at a certain angle to see a positive image, it is a Daguerrotype as Ambrotypes always view as positive images no matter what the viewing angle. It was fairly common for images to be placed in enclosures which didnot come with the original. Interesingly, the case in which your photo is held is probably more valuable than the image! Quite a market is growing up around the collectability of the cases themselves.
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Old 12-05-2001, 11:37 AM
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One thought...unless trained to do so, dont disassemble the photo package! Scan the photo case and all. If severe tarnish is noted, refer to a conservator. Even mild tarnish around the edges may indicate that the photo package needs to be resealed and the glass front plate replaced at the same time. Tom
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