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Ambrotypes

The ambrotype appeared in the United States about 1854 and reached a height of popularity in 1856 and 1857. It is actually a wet collodion negative made directly on glass. It appears as a positive image when viewed on a black background. Because the ambrotype is a negative, the image seen is a mirror image. Ambrotypes frequently had touches of color added, such as pink cheeks and gold jewelry.

Like the daguerrotype, the ambrotype is made of several layers: the collodion negative on glass, a black backing (paint, fabric, or paper), a cover glass, and a decorative brass mat. The layers are taped together and bound by a narrow metal strip, then placed within a hinged case.

Visit the City Gallery online to learn more about ambrotypes.

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This page copyright March 2001 by Susan Goss Johnston.