The ambrotype process is named after James Ambrose Cutting (1814-1867) who popularised the process and patented in 1854 a method of mounting and sealing the image plate. Cutting was not the inventor and actually it’s not a new process, but a variant of the wet plate collodion process. An ambrotype is an underexposed collodion negative. A positive image appears when the glass plate is placed on a dark background. This was noticed the first time by Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Evrard in 1850. Ambrotypes were much more affordable than daguerreotypes and became known as the poor man’s daguerreotype. The process was popular between 1852 and 1870.
The 8,5x17cm stereo ambrotype in this post shows an image of two men and a boy. The collodion negative is covered by a cover glass to protect the emulsion. There is a cardboard bottom under the collodion plate which ensures that the negative can be viewed as a positive image. The three layers are held together by binding tape. The image is decorated by a gold fillet. These kind of decorations can also be seen in the glass stereoviews of Ferrier & Soulier.
The stereo ambrotype is a glass stereoview but the image should be viewed with reflective light when using a stereoscope because the glass plates are not translucent due to the cardboard bottom.
- Lavédrine, Betrand. Photographs of the Past – Process and Preservation, 2009, p.50
- Ambrotype – via: graphicsatlas.org