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Ambrotype in case
MFA# 2001.354


An early type of photograph developed by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. Ambrotype, popular from 1850-1870, is a direct-positive method of photography prepared by imaging a wet collodion negative on a glass plate. Originally, the plate was reversed and shown in reflected light while the image side was covered with a black varnish or black paper. Later versions used the double glass process in which the plate was not reversed but rather a backing was applied to the reverse side of the plate while a spacing mat and cover glass were added to the front (image) side. Ambrotypes have a fragile surface and the images were usually sealed in a metallic frame or case.

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • Luis Nadeau, Encyclopedia of Printing, Photographic, and Photomechanical Processes, Atelier, New Brunswick, 1997 Comment: Frederick Scott Archer in 1851
  • Caring for your Collections, Arthur W Schulz (ed.), Harry N. Abrams, Inc. , New York, 1992
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997

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