Adrian Burns and Burns Americana will be working with Belhorn Auction Services, LLC to conduct an auction of fine early photographs on August 21, 2010 at the Super Auction in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The offering is still being assembled, but we expect it to include a fine selection of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes and other fine images.
What's a daguerreotype you ask? The first commercially viable method of photography. Introduced in 1839, the technology quickly caught fire and within a few years every big city and most small towns had what were then called "operators" offering daguerreotype portraits. The images are exposed onto a chemically treated silver-plated copper plate, and each photo is unique and very fragile. If the surface is touched, the image will rub right off.
The chemicals react to light at the atomic level, so the resolution in a good quality daguerreotype is superior to almost any photograph you'll come across today.
As wonderful, and revolutionary, as the process was - it was also cumbersome and involved the use of dangerous chemicals such as mercury. Another technology, the ambrotype - which used a very different, cheaper and easier process- began taking hold in the 1850s.
By 1860 the daguerreotype had pretty much gone extinct, ambrotypes were winding down and tintypes were all the rage. They, along with cabinet cards and other formats would continue until the turn the next century.
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