Tagged: 1860s

Formats current at any point during the years 1860-1869

Cabinet card (1863 – early 1920s)

A cabinet card consists of an albumen print (although later cards used matte collodion, gelatin or gelatin bromide paper) mounted on a standard sized card backing of 4¼  by 6½ inches. Like the earlier carte de visite, the card displayed details of the the photographic studio that took the photograph, either below the below the photograph, on the back of the card, or both.

They were introduced in 1863 by a British photographic studio, Windsor & Bridge, and became widely used for portrait photography (initially, they were intended for landscape photography), superseding the smaller carte de visite. Cabinet cards were placed in albums like the carte de visite, although it was a few years before albums specifically for the larger size of cabinet cards became available, or could be placed on stands or in frames for display (often in parlour cabinets, hence the name). They reached a peak in their popularity in the 1880s.

The introduction of the simple and inexpensive Brownie camera by Kodak in 1900, meant home photography became much more affordable and the studio portrait less necessary, but cabinet cards continued to be produced as late as the early 1920s.

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Carte de visite (1854 – 1900s)

A carte de visite consists of a small albumen print photograph on paper mounted on cards of around 2½ by 4 inches. The size of the format was patented by a Parisian photographer, André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri in 1854, and soon spread to the UK and the US. The standard size meant people could exchange portraits or even buy celebrity portraits and place them in special carte de visite albums. Cartes de visite could also be sent easily in the post unlike the previous daguerreotype and ambrotype photographs.

Carte de visite photographs were created in a camera that had multiple lenses, allowing several images on a single large glass photographic plate to reduce the cost. Since the negative was on a glass plate (using the wet collodian process) any number of further copies could be made.

In England, carte de visite were very popular, with sales running into hundreds of millions annually, and they also became popular during the American Civil War as soldiers and their families posed for photos. Most images were taken in the studio, though there were some of landscapes.

Sales of cartes de visite reached a peak during the 1860s, but they remained popular until the early 20th century despite the introduction of the larger cabinet card in the 1860s. Earlier examples usually use thinner card and the card had square corners. Rounded corners on the mount were introduced in the 1870s.

The introduction of the simple and inexpensive Brownie camera by Kodak in 1900, meant home photography became much more affordable and the studio portrait less necessary.

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Ambrotype (early 1850s – 1880s)

ambrotypeAn ambrotype (also known as a collodian positive) was an image produced by a type of photographic process first used in the 1850s, succeeding the more expensive daguerreotype, with the image on glass (as opposed to film, paper or metal).

The resulting image is actually a negative, but when viewed against a dark backing (such as black velvet, or a layer of black varnish) or on dark reddish-coloured glass, appears as a positive. The collodian emulsion is usually protected by a layer of varnish and a glass cover (or sometimes put in the case emulsion-side down), and usually supplied in a presentation case, like the earlier daguerreotype. Ambrotype images were sometimes hand-tinted.

The term ‘ambrotype’ is a particular variant of the collodian positive process (patented by James Ambrose Cutting of Boston in 1854) where Canada balsam is used to seal the collodian plate to the cover glass, but the term is now used to describe all collodian positive photographs.

The ambrotype was popular only from around 1855-1865, and after that the process disappeared from high-street studios. It continued to be used by open-air photographers until the 1880s as the process took a short amount of time. It was superseded by the sturdier tintype process, and also by albumen prints on paper.

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Tintype (1850s – 1930s)

Tintype (front)The tintype (also known as a ferrotype) was a type of photographic process invented in the 1850s that involved using a thin sheet of iron (not tin as the name suggests) as the backing for the image (as opposed  to film, paper, or glass).

Tintypes became popular in the 1860s and 1870s, but were used into the 21st century despite growing competition from prints on paper, and are currently enjoying a revival in interest. Tintypes could be taken outdoors provided the equipment needed to prepare and develop them was at hand. The process was often used at carnivals and fairs for taking inexpensive novelty photographs in a short amount of time, and a photographer could prepare, expose, develop and varnish a tintype plate in a few minutes. The resulting photograph was sturdy and did not require mounting.

Tintype photographs succeeded the ambrotype, which had some similarities. Ambrotypes also used the wet collodion process, but on a piece of glass that was dark in colour or painted with a black backing. The iron used in tintypes was also coloured black, and the resulting image was actually a negative that appeared positive.

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Stereoview (1850s – 1920s)

Stereoviews consist of two nearly-identical images, each taken a few inches to the side of the other. When viewed through two lenses set 2½-inches apart, approximately the space between the eyes, the result is the illusion of a three-dimensional image. They generally consist of two photographic images pasted onto a 3½-inch by 7-inch card, although earlier ones were sometimes images on glass.

They became popular first in Europe in the 1850s, followed by the US in the 1860s. Until the 1880s, most of the photographic images were created using wet plate negatives printed on albumen paper. From the 1890s, dry plate negatives printed on gelatin silver paper were produced by large companies, such as Underwood & Underwood in the US, or the London Stereoscope Company in the UK.

They faded in popularity in the 1920s, but the idea behind them was used in later formats like View-Master and Vistascreen.

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Jacquard Loom card (1801 – 1990s)

The Jacquard Loom was a mechanical loom for cloth weaving, first demonstrated by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801. It used a chain of punched cards laced together to allow the loom to create complex patterns.

Any number of the cards could be chained together into a continuous sequence, with each card corresponding to one row of the design. Each position on the card corresponds to a ‘Bolus’ hook which can either be raised or stopped dependent on whether the hole is punched out of the position on the card or not. The hook raises or lowers the harness, which carries and guides the warp thread so that the weft will either lie above or below it.

Modern Jacquard looms are controlled by computers in place of the original punched cards, and can have thousands of hooks.

Charles Babbage was aware of Jacquard loom cards, and planned to use cards to store programs in his Analytical engine, first described in 1837. Later in the 19th Century, Herman Hollerith used the idea of storing information on cards to create the punched card tabulating machine which he used to input data for the 1890 US Census.

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Photographic plate (1851 – 1990s)

Photographic plates were used in still photography and consisted of a glass plate coated with a light-sensitive emulsion of silver salts.

Photographic plates ceased to be used by amateur photographers in the early 20th century, as they switched to photographic film, but glass plates continued to be used until the 1970s by some photographic businesses, and until the 1990s for astronomical surveys before these moved to digital imaging.

Glass plates were far superior to film for research-quality imaging because they were extremely stable and less likely to bend or distort, especially in large-format frames for wide-field imaging.

Glass photographic plates using the wet collodion process, which was invented in 1851, replaced the earlier Daguerreotype process that used a polished silver coated plate of tin or copper. The wet collodion process was inconvenient and required portable darkrooms for field photography. Gelatin dry plates were first invented in 1871 and in 1878, it was discovered that heating the plates made them more resistant to friction, and the emulsion more sensitive to light. During the 1880s dry plates largely replaced wet collodion plates, although wet collodion plates continued to be used for some special purposes.

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Magic lantern (17th century – 1940s)

The magic lantern was an early type of image projector, developed in the 17th century.

It used a concave mirror behind a light source to direct as much of the light as possible through a small rectangular sheet of glass – the magic lantern slide – on which was the painted or photographic image to be projected – and onward into a lens at the front. The lens was adjusted to focus at the distance of the projection screen or wall.

Initially, candles or oil lamps were used, producing very dim projections. Improvements in lighting took the form of the Argand lamp from the 1790s, limelight in the 1820s, electric arc light in the 1860s and finally the incandescent electric lamp.

The magic lantern could project moving images by the use of various types of mechanical slide, which could be over a foot long at times and could contain gears cranks and pulleys. Even in still slides there was little standardisation. Peck and Snyder, a company with great influence in the magic lantern industry, sold slides measuring 4.5 by 7 inches. ‘English pattern’ slides were 3.5 by 3.5 inches, ‘French pattern slides’ were 3.25 by 4 inches, and the ‘standard European size’ was 3.25 by 3.25 inches.

The art of projection reached a high-point in the 1870-1880 period, and the magic lantern played a very important part in Victorian society. Temperance and religious lectures were given but the lantern was also used in education, for the demonstration of scientific principles, to relay the latest news of world events, and to create ‘phantasmagoria’ shows. By this time, images were being transferred to slides by photographic means, and then coloured by hand. Lanterns of this time could have up to four projection tubes.

With the advent of cinema the days of the big lantern shows were numbered, but magic lanterns were still used in schools and institutes, and photographic and printed slides were still being manufactured in the 1940s.

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Punched tape (1846 – 1980s)

Punched tape or perforated tape was an early form of data storage, developed from interlinked cards such as those used on the Jacquard loom.

In 1846, punched tape was used for sending telegrams. Operators could type a message to the paper tape, and then sent the message at the maximum line speed from the tape.

Various encoding schemes were used over time, beginning with Baudot with 5 holes, and culminating in ASCII. A row of narrower holes served to feed the tape.

When the first minicomputers were being released, manufacturers turned to the existing mass-produced ASCII teleprinters and punched tape became a popular medium for low cost minicomputer data and program storage. Punched tape and punched cards became the primary means of mass storage for computers in the 1960s.

In the 1970s, computer-aided manufacturing equipment often used paper tape, as paper tape readers were smaller and much less expensive than punched card or magnetic tape readers. Premium black waxed and lubricated long-fibre papers, and Mylar film tape were invented so that production tapes for these machines would last longer.

Punched tape had a low information density and took a long time to load, and more than a few dozen kilobytes are impractical to handle in punched tape format. Unlike magnetic tape though, punched tape can be read decades later if acid-free paper or Mylar film was used, and can even be decoded visually if necessary.

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Microfilm (1839 – )

Microfilm is 16 or 35mm film, usually unperforated, containing microreproductions (normally about one twenty-fifth of the original size) of images such as documents. Images are usually provided as black and white negatives, but positive images and colour are also used.

The standard length for roll film is 30.48 m (100 ft)for 35mm rolls, and 100 ft, 130 ft and 215 feet for 16mm rolls. One roll of 35 mm film may carry 600 images of large engineering drawings or 800 images of broadsheet newspaper pages. 16 mm film may carry 2,400 images of letter sized images as a single stream of micro images along the film set so that lines of text are parallel to the sides of the film or 10,000 small documents, perhaps cheques or betting slips, with both sides of the originals set side by side on the film.

Microphotography was first used in 1839 by John Benjamin Dancer, and microfilm saw military use in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 as a means of allowing pigeons to carry dispatches in compressed form.

It was first used commercially in the 1920s. New York City banker George McCarthy was issued a patent in 1925 for his Checkograph machine, designed to make micrographic copies of cancelled cheques. In 1928, the Eastman Kodak Company bought McCarthy’s invention and began marketing cheque microfilming devices under its Recordak division.

Early microfilms (to the 1930s) were printed on nitrate film, which is explosive and flammable. From the late 1930s to the 1980s, microfilms were usually printed on a cellulose acetate base, which is prone to tears, vinegar syndrome, and redox blemishes. Preservation standard microfilms use the silver halide process, creating silver images in hard gelatin emulsion on a polyester base. With appropriate storage conditions, this film has a life expectancy of 500 years.

Unlike digital media, the format requires no software to decode the data stored thereon, but the images are usually too small to read with the naked eye and requires magnification to be read.

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