Years: 1839 - c.1855
The daguerreotype consists of a copper plate that is coated with silver and polished to a mirror-like finish. The plate is sensitized with iodine vapor, exposed in a camera, and developed in an atmosphere of mercury vapor. "Dags", as they are also known, can be recognized by the mirror reflection in the image, and can be best viewed at an angle. A typed noted included with this image identifies the man as DeWitt C. Gage. He first came to Saginaw in 1854 and was one of the founders of the First Congregational Church. He was a lawyer, Circuit Judge and the great-grandson of a Revolutionary War soldier. Images courtesy of MiPHS members or former members.
Years: 1854 - c.1870
From the Greek meaning "immortal impression" ambrotypes are images made on glass using the wet plate collodion process. Ambrotypes are photographic negative images that appear as positives. They are made by placing a glass plate negative in front of a dark background. Collodion wet plate (CWP) process inventor Frederick Scott Archer discovered this application of the CWP process in 1851, and ambrotypes quickly became popular with photographers looking for a faster, more affordable technology to replace the daguerreotype for portraits, and with the public, who also appreciated their affordability. Photographers often lightened their glass plate negatives with various chemicals to achieve more vivid results in their ambrotypes, before placing them in front of black paper or velvet. Like the earlier daguerreotypes, ambrotypes came in standard sizes and were installed in ornate cases.Images courtesy of MiPHS members or former members.
Tintype, Ferrotype, Melainotype
Years: 1854 - c.1900
Tintypes are images made on a piece of iron which is blackened by lacquering, painting or enameling. A direct positive of the image is created on this surface using colloidion photographic emulsion. Earlier images are primarily gray-black in color evolving into a chocolate colored tone after 1870. Images courtesy of MiPHS members or former members.
Tintype, Ferrotype, Melainotype
Years: 1854 - c.1870
Tintypes are images made on a piece of iron which is blackened by lacquering painting or enameling. A direct positive of the image is created on this surface using collodion photographic emulsion. Earlier images are primarily gray-black in color evolving into a chocolate colored tone after 1870. Image courtesy of Barb Bauer.
Cartes de Visite
Years: Introduced in Europe in 1854, United States: c1859 - 1880’s
Also known as a CdV, this image is an albumen print measuring 2⅛ × 3½ inches mounted on a card sized 2½ × 4 inches. This type of photograph was wildly popular in Europe and endured there for a longer period of time than in the United States, before being replaced by the cabinet card. This particular CDV shows a good example of the elegant advertising photographers would often have printed on the back of their images. Images courtesy of MiPHS members or former members.
Years: 1866 - late 1920's
Like CDV's, cabinet cards are also albumen prints but in a larger format, measuring 4½ by 6½ inches. Images courtesy of MiPHS members or former members.
Stereographs are a pair of photographs taken with a binocular camera. They are mounted for three-dimensional viewing in a stereoscope. Stereographs are made with two almost identical photographs, side by side, to be viewed with a stereoscope. When viewed through a stereoscope, the photograph appears three-dimensional. Charles Wheatstone developed the concept in the early 1850s, and the format was popularized by Sir Charles Brewster in the UK. In the United States stereographs (also called stereo views) were promoted by Oliver Wendell Holmes and Joseph Bates. Holmes invented an affordable stereo viewer for the American market. Stereographs were primarily albumen images mounted on card stock, but some were printed on thin tissue paper that were held to the light. Early stereographs, produced using daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, are rare. Peak years were 1858 to 1905, and their usage waned between 1910 and 1925. Images courtesy of MiPHS members or former members.
Real Photo Postcards (RPPCs)
Real Photo Postcards (RPPCs) are actual black and white photographs printed and developed on postcard-weight photographic paper, with manufacturer-printed "POST CARD" backs. They came into popularity in the early 20th century along with more common mechanically printed postcards. Real Photo Postcards were produced by commercial and itinerant photographers as well as amateurs who either printed their own postcards or relied on local darkrooms or the Eastman Kodak Company to make postcards from their negatives. Almost all pre-World War I real photo postcards were contact printed, and a well made negative could generate a richly detailed, informative postcard. Popular consensus suggests that commercially produced real photo postcards were usually made in small quantities when demand was not great enough to print hundreds or thousands through lithographic reproduction. Amateur photographers typically printed small quantities of their postcards for personal or family use. Public demand for postcards peaked in the pre-World War I years and declined after the war as telephone use became widespread.
Real photo postcards covered almost every conceivable subject, and they functioned in various realms, from descriptive views of main streets, schools, railroad depots, agriculture, and local businesses, to advertising and civic boosterism, to popular recreation, family gatherings and personal adventures. They were extremely popular for communication and collecting at the time of their production, and they have become increasingly collectible since the 1970s. Real photo postcards provide a rich, multifaceted description of life at the beginning of the last century. Images courtesy of MiPHS members or former members.
Personal Photography, "Snapshots"
Years: Mid-1890's to the present
These are the type of photos most of us are familiar with. It all began in 1891 with George Eastman's introduction of the "You Press The Button, We Do The Rest" campaign which brought personal photography to the masses. Images courtesy of MiPHS members or former members.