Antique Daguerreotype in gutta percha photo frame
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Antique daguerreotype in gutta percha photo frame

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  • Gutta Percha - Gutta percha, introduced to Britain in 1843, is a synthetic plastic-like substance made from the latex of a several types of Malaysian trees, similar to a rubber tree, and used for a variety of purposes including jewellery, dolls, golf balls and cable insulation.
  • Daguerreotype - The first photographic image was achieved in 1814 by Frenchman Joseph Niepce, with first photographic with the camera obscura, an optical device that projects an image onto a screen. However, the image required eight hours of light exposure and later faded.

    Joseph Niepce continued working on improving his invention Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, an artist. Niepce died in 1833, but Daguerre carried on, and at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris on August 19, 1839 announced he had discovered a new method of photography, the daguerreotype which he named after himself. The daguerreotype process reduced the exposure time from 8 hours to 3 - 15 minutes.

    In major cities, professional photographers of the time, known as daguerreotypists, invited celebrities and political figures to their studios, hoping that by displaying a selection of portraits in their windows, the public would be encouraged to be photographed.

    However the popularity of the daguerreotype was short-lived, and its use declined in the late 1850s when the ambrotype, a faster and less expensive photographic process, became available. However the ambrotype still required the services of a professional photographer and it was not until the invention of Kodak's Box Brownie in 1900 that the public were able to shoot their own photographs.

    Due to the short time (20 years) that the daguerreotype was popular, and the fact that the image was produced directly onto the plate, meaning there were no negatives, original daguerreotypes are scarce. Most daguerreotypes are portraits, with landscapes and street scenes being less less common.

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