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June 20, 2021

The “Golden Age” of Childhood: A Gallery of 45 Amazing Daguerreotypes of Siblings From the Mid-19th Century

Daguerreotypes were the first commercially viable photographic process. Developed by French chemist Louis Daguerre in 1839, the technique quickly made its way to the US in the 1840s, the beginning of what some historians characterize as the “golden age” of childhood.


To make the image, a daguerreotypist polished a sheet of silver-plated copper to a mirror finish; treated it with fumes that made its surface light sensitive; exposed it in a camera for as long as was judged to be necessary, which could be as little as a few seconds for brightly sunlit subjects or much longer with less intense lighting; made the resulting latent image on it visible by fuming it with mercury vapor; removed its sensitivity to light by liquid chemical treatment; rinsed and dried it; and then sealed the easily marred result behind glass in a protective enclosure.

The image is on a mirror-like silver surface and will appear either positive or negative, depending on the angle at which it is viewed, how it is lit and whether a light or dark background is being reflected in the metal. The darkest areas of the image are simply bare silver; lighter areas have a microscopically fine light-scattering texture. The surface is very delicate, and even the lightest wiping can permanently scuff it. Some tarnish around the edges is normal.

Several types of antique photographs, most often ambrotypes and tintypes, but sometimes even old prints on paper, are commonly misidentified as daguerreotypes, especially if they are in the small, ornamented cases in which daguerreotypes made in the US and the UK were usually housed. The name “daguerreotype” correctly refers only to one very specific image type and medium, the product of a process that was in wide use only from the early 1840s to the late 1850s.

















































1 comment:

  1. Notice how many are dressed alike!
    Even when they are clearly different ages.
    That amounts to "Staging" the photoshoot. You would not see it in real life!

    ReplyDelete



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