Huebnere Family Mystery Ancestors
Pryor to the Tintype which arrived in the United States in 1856 were the Daguerroeotypes (1839) and Amprotypes (1850’s).
Daguerreotypes first began to be made in 1839. It was the first type of publicly sold photograph. Daguerreotypes are fragile and were expensive at the time, and are less accessible now. They continue to be produced for roughly fifteen years, until the ambrotype began to replace it.
A daguerreotype was a direct positive, taken from the camera and developed directly onto a silver-plated copper plate. The camera used chemical vapors to produce an image on the silver plate. This took a long time and subjects of the photo had to remain completely still for quite a long time. The final photos were extremely fragile, could be rubbed or transferred off easily as well as subject to tarnish.
As a result, daguerreotypes had to be preserved in glass. If tilted back and fourth, you will see a reflection.
Ambrotypes were introduced after the daguerrotype, in the 1850’s (officially patented in 1854, but in use before that). They became instantly popular because they were much less expensive than the daguerrotype, and didn’t require their subjects to remin motionless for as long. Ambrotypes are similar to a tintype in their use of a mounted exposure. However, as opposed to a sheet of iron subject to tarnish, ambrotypes were mounted to a piece of blackened glass. Sometimes you will see the black paint on the back dried, cracking and peeling.
After taking the photo, a photographer would immediately mount the positive on a wet piece of glass. (The moisture came from a coating made up of a chemical coating). The photo then had to be immediately developed, coated and varnished – all before the chemicals dried.
Ambrotypes were quickly overshadowed by tintypes because of the contrast in cost and processing time. However, of the three, ambrotypes are the most detailed, high quality photos. When discerning an ambrotype from a daguerreotype, note that an ambrotype will have a black background and sometimes (if the back of the glass is also painted black) can appear to have another level of dimension. Ambrotypes will be the most detailed. Daguerreotypes appear to be a more silver color, and can only be viewed at certain angles.