New Daguerreotypes coming!

Well, new to me that is…

I’ve been off the collecting kick lately because I had some more gear and supplies to buy for my own photography. I found a pair of 14×17 inch film holders that fit my Canham 14×17, and although they’re not a color match for the other three, they’re more than good enough – the external dimensions are identical, so they
re an exact fit, which is the most critical factor when looking for such things. Oh, and they’re less than half the price of new ones that do match my existing holders.

So, with that holdup out of the way, it’s on to more collecting. Two daguerreotypes and a milk glass ambrotype are en route. Daguerreotypes are much more familiar to most people, so I’ll save further commentary until I have them to show. A milk glass ambrotype though- you might wonder what is it? Simply, it’s an ambrotype on a piece of white, opaque glass. Not so simply, to get the image to show, you create a collodion negative the same way you would if you were planning to make albumen or salt prints. You coat a second wet plate onto a piece of milk glass (a white/opalescent glass), then separate the negative from the milk glass with a thin wire or shim or anything that will keep the collodion original very close to but not in contact with the new wet plate. Expose and process as normal for collodion. You end up with a positive on the milk glass (a negative of a negative is a positive). Because of the extra labor involved, they’re somewhat rare. The one I’ve got coming is a very small (1/9th plate size) oval portrait of a young woman, done with a very attractively executed vignette, in a red velvet case. I’ll post pictures as soon as I get it in my own hands. I have no idea who she is or what she did for a living, but something about the outfit feels like a nurse’s habit. Maybe it’s the vignette giving a subliminal halo to the woman adding to the impression – who knows? It probably is a civil war era image, but if that’s true, she’s probably not a nurse, as most of the official requirements for nurses during the civil war requested that they be doughy, extremely plain of looks, and past marriageable age. This girl is none of the above.

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