That early image that just closed on ebay (someone if they could please link it for me- #270330630600), which was in fact a half plate image, was likely an ambrotype. I was emailing the seller today and he was polite but had no idea what he had. He also had no idea how to spell daguerreotype, thus hurting his sale too.
It was a spectacular image but in the end I think it had too many very serious condition problems. But it was exceptionally early, perhaps pre-1865.
This message has been edited by barrysloate on Jan 21, 2009 10:04 PM
I decided not to bid because it was already pretty high earlier today (and I am in the middle of trying my best to blow all my money on another collection). However, I was under the impression from looking at it that it was a tintype. It seemed to me that the black part of the tin was visible after the glass ended at the bottom. I could be wrong, but that was my assessment of the piece. It was an early image and despite the condition flaws, it was not a bad piece.
Rhys- I had several emails with the seller during the day to try and determine whether it was an ambro or a tin. While he responded quickly he was not very helpful. I originally thought it was a tintype, but what looks like tin from the back may actually be dark glass. It's hard to tell both from the scans and from his emails.
What knocked me out in the end was the condition. Way too many problems, and if it is an ambro that glass looks like it is pretty close to cracking. But I have to say either way it was a really superb early image.
I too originally made a fast assumption that it was a tintype (with the glass taped over the front). Later, when I looked again, it did appear to be an ambro with a piece of blackened tin behind. There also appears to be the remnants of a scalloped shape on the front of the glass which would be evident of it having been in a case at one time. That would also lend evidence to the image being from the early 1860's or sooner.
Just to add my thoughts - as Barry surmised, it is definitely an ambrotype and if I had to guess, I would put a date of 1861-63 on it given the dress which looks like it is just one step removed from the fireman type uniforms of the late 1850s.
I think Barry is right again on the conservation side. A good ambrotype restorer can do a decent job at covering over emulsion crazing but I fear there are just too many problems with this piece. Still very collectible though! Whoever won it needs to get this retaped with Filmoplaste P90 asap and stop that dammed metal plate from scraping off any more emulsion from the back.
Condition is the only thing that would hold me back from bidding, very nice item. I have had only a few of these, including one that is on my website that was sold a few years back - it's on my contacts page.
thanks for pointing this important image out to all of us
Hi Barry, things are fine thank you. I am just rushed off my feet as usual so unfortunately, I have little time for lurking around the message board. It's nice to catch up when I do though.
My problem is I collect too many things what with cards, coins, comics and early photography. The time needed to do all these searches on ebay though is a real killer.
If I am not mistaken, I believe that you have similarly diverse collecting interests Barry? How do you find time to post so much? Every time I check in on here you are always contributing! Anyway, I trust you too are well?
It is an Ambrotype backed by an old Daguerreotype plate that has been blackened on the copper side of the old dag plate(an Ambrotype needs a Black backing) .
This was a common practice, as the Wet Plate Process(Ambrotype/"Tintype") replaced the Daguerreian process,the Photographers would blacken one side of their no longer in demand Dag Plates for backing plates--just to get rid of the now useless plates. I have seen a number of of Ambrotypes backed by old Dags.
It can be very confusing to the novice to tell a Dag from an Ambrotype if the image still retains its seals.(ealy Ambrotypes were sealed with thin strips of paper to the matt and cover glass like most Dags were, a practice that faded out as the Ambrotype process matured).
The image has suffered from poor storage but appears quite stable, although there is no way I am aware of to restore the damaged "Emulsion".
A new backing plate/cover glass/seal and it should be good for another 100+ years.
Tim- this is the first time I've heard that old discarded dag plates were used as the dark background for ambros. It certainly makes sense, as you would never throw out anything that still has use. And I take it from your title "ambrotypist" that you take ambrotype photographs today? If so, good to see there are still people keeping alive this dying art.
Yes,I have been making Ambrotypes for ten years now.
Here is a link to my Flicker Page with some of my images as well as a few vintage images from my collection and info and pictures of items used in the process;
I saw a display of modern made Daguerreotypes. They weren't made or intended to resemble antiques, but modern works of art. For example, you don't see a Corvette in a 1850s photo.
The vast majority of modern art/hobby photographers who reuse old processes (modernized versions) aren't trying to make them look like antiques, but modern photographs with a bit of antique sensibility or qualities. For example, an art photographer might like the tones of the albumen process, but isn't intending anyone to mistake it for an 1800s photograph. That he signs, limited edition numbers and expects to get named credit for the image, proves this.
For paper photos, the old-time processes really aren't the same as the originals but modernized versions using modern substances and materials. One of the keys is the modernized versions are made so the images don't age and fade like the vintage versions. In other words, some of the visual qualities of 1800s albumen and other antique prints are intentionally removed. The average modern art photographer doesn't want his his albumen image of his brother to fade to yellow, tone or gain foxing. For the same reason Mitchell & Ness doesn't want its retail Throwback 1952 Yankees jerseys to have moth holes, fading spots, missing buttons and to smell like grandpa's foot locker. Not every old fashion quality is a good quality, especially when you're trying to get a date. So the modern versions of old time processes are usually easy to differentiate from the original versions, only in part because the images and paper are in too new condition, type and quality. The modern art photo also will usually not be in antique format. For example, it may be on obviously brand new, thick, unmounted 8x10" photo paper instead of an aged, soiled cabinet card. As I said, most of these photographers like some (not all) of the old image qualities, and are trying to make modern works of art not Chanel? knockoffs.
Rhys, I wasn't certain what it was just looking at the image. With the shiny scotch tape, one couldn't be sure it wasn't a pane of clear glass taped over a tintype. Just so everyone knows, the seller was specifically asked to look and said the image is on the glass, so it is indeed an ambrotype.
For lurkers who don't follow photos, baseball ambrotypes are very rare. There are more known T206 w/Ty Cobb Tobacco backs than there are known baseball ambrotypes.
No,I have yet to make a Dag. In my opinion the beauty of a well made Dag. has yet to be surpassed by any Photographic process old or new.
The major block to doing the process in the classic style is that Mercury Vapors are required to Develop the image(although there are ways to develop a Dag. with filtered light and artifical Light). Also the Silver plated Copper plates used in the process are very hard to come by and each plate has to be polished by hand to a mirror finish.
There are a number of great modern Daguerreian Artists who have overcome all the obstacles and are doing incredible work.
Do you want to know how clear the Dags are? My friend has a framed display of about 50 1850s daguerreotypes on his wall. He had a physician and his wife over for dinner, and the physician looked at the photos and identified many of the peoples' medical conditions.
As I collect more modern, my favorite type of photograph is the cibachrome, which is a modern paper color photograph of high image quality. It's like a normal Kodak color photo, but with 5x better image.
I guess this physician could start a side business writing medical condition LOAs for daguerreotyps. My childhood best friend's dad was a radiologist who would do anything for a buck.
"I demand a refund! My dermatologist says its only acne."
Next time you visit your family doctor, schedule an extra ten minutes and bring in your daguerreotypes. "Say Doc, do you see any possible elephantitus in these? Mercury poisoning? Maybe a little syphylis? The SMR on syphylis is through the roof this quarter."
The famous French short story writer Guy de Maupassant went crazy from syphylis and thought his brains were coming out his nose.
Not a joke. One of the elephant man's first attempts at a job was as a door to door salesman.
I mainly collect early photography now more than anything and specialize in early daguerreotypes before 1843. I also own the necessary daguerreotype equipment and am playing around trying to perfect the process and I can say it is so much harder and more dangerous Cyanide/ Mercury etc.)than the later art of the ambrotypist.
Daguerreotypeists rarely ever disposed of the plates and would re-silver and reuse them for more images rather than use them as ambro backings. The copper plates were a very expensive medium (thick recyclable copper) and this is one of the reasons why daguerreotypes became obsolete with the onset of the cheaper and easier to take glass ambrotype.
Some private individuals may have used on old dag of theirs to re-back an ambrotype if the original backing faded but this would not have been done by the studio. The professionals used a much cheaper thin plate of tin and either tarred it or used black paint (also seen some with black wax).
Here is a daguerreotype taken of myself last year not the easiest on the eyes I know but it will give you an idea of the great detail offered by a daguerreotype. BTW, the resolution was still better on these than anything offered today with all our modern technology (image is actually comprised of particles on the surface on the plate and is not bled into the paper and minutely blurred like a modern photo).
Below is also a true baseball ambrotype image that I once owned. I purchased it a while back off of Barry but am not at liberty to say who owns it now. (note: the ball near shoulder, the baseball bat and the 1850's firemen type uniforms)
By the way Hi Rob sorry for no answering back right away but I have only just checked back into the board after the weekend. Fatherhood is Great thank you! Little Harry Wright is 2 ½ and doing well. We have another on the way and due mid March. Dont ask me if I am going to call this one George Wright I suggested it but I dont think the boss is too impressed!!!!
How are you? Are you still picking up early images? I thought about you the other day as I picked up a variation of an image that you once owned (1860s Northampton, MA baseball stereoview). I think you used to have the CDV didnt you?
Jason, did you start off just collecting early baseball photos and morph that into collecting anything related to early photography? I'm pretty sure I have purchased a few photos from you over the years. Nebraska Indians Cabinet and an early Lincoln, Nebraska photo of two ball players.
If I were you, I'd push a little harder on your wife to allow you to name your second child "George". Then you can make a dag image of your own Harry and George Wright, put a fuzzy scan on ebay...legitimately titled "daguerreotype of a young George and Harry Wright", and make a mint!
Barry, yes someone managed to pry the ambro off me. It was hard to part with but since my collection focuses more on daguerreotypes I thought it was logical to redirect the funds. On the picture front, I reckoned it was about time I reciprocate with my mug shot I think I saw one of you last year when everyone posted images of themselves.
Dan Yes, you are right you did buy those baseball images off me. It was always a pleasure doing business with you!
In terms of my collecting evolution....I was an early baseball image collector first but kept wanting to find earlier and earlier images. I started off with tobacco cards, then cabinets, then tintypes, then CDVs and then ambrotypes. I even had a few daguerreotype images of little boys holding lemon peel balls. Some of them were a bit non descript and could possibly have been apples but some definitely were identifiable as lemon peel or gusset type balls.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, as early baseball images dried up, I turned to the more readily available daguerreotypes and things evolved from there. It got to a point where my collection is made up 90% of daguerreotypes prior to 1843.
Rob, thanks for the congrats on the baby front. I will show my wife this threat and see if it has the desired effect. Somehow I think I am onto a loser though.
If I cant get a daguerreotype of my Wright brothers, then maybe it would still be a cool idea to make one anyway with adult posers.
I still have my 1850s flat bat and a lemon peel ball over here. If I and a friend can grow beards and done fireman uniforms, we can reproduce/originate the worlds 1st baseball daguerreotype with equipment. Thinking about it that might be quite an interesting project.
Current Topic - Early Photo on Ebay was Probably Ambrotype