A few Ambrotypes from our collection

The ambrotype is actually a glass negative that, backed with a dark material, appears to be a positive. The milky collodion highlights (that would appear black in a modern negative) are light and the unexposed dark areas show the dark backing to provide the shadows.With ruby glass ambrotypes the dark red glass acts as the backing.

Introduced in 1854, they were easier and cheaper to make than daguerreotypes. Ambrotypes were presented in the same style of bindings and cases as were daguerreotypes and replaced them in the 1850s.

A well made ambrotype may be a striking image but lacks the depth of a well made daguerreotype.

On the right is a 1/4 plate ambrotype by Mathew Brady. It is housed in a "flip case" where the image can be viewed from either side with the brown velvet on the inside of the covers serving as the dark backing. In the image on the far right we have placed a white card half way into the case to show the negative/positive effect.

Below are two of our special treasures. Each of these 1/2 plate ambrotypes shows the same twin girls standing on a carpeted platform. In one they wear identical dresses and in the other they wear fur trimmed coats and hats. In the background are sets of legs that appear to be braces to hold them still although they are not the standard upright on a heavy base.

A note that came with them names them as the Watts twins. From the source we understand that they came from a Massachusetts family.

The ambrotype below is an example of the kind of cross-collectible that warms a collector's heart. We collect unusual ambrotypes but we also collect stereoscopic images and instruments. This ambrotype of a young woman with a Brewster style stereo viewer on the table was impossible to resist. Early in our collecting we decided that some areas of collecting would be too expensive for us. One of these was the American civil war which had an army of eager collectors. Even though we did not seek this material we have been lucky enough to acquire several ambrotypes of civil war soldiers. Below is a young man standing before a military backdrop with tents and flag. He wears a cape coat tinted a bright blue. We are told that he is wearing an enlisted men's trousers and overcoat with the regulation enlisted man's dress Hardee hat.with the insignia "H" and "81" inside a brass infantry bugle.
We collect images of the popular carnival and tourist photo staple, "stick your head through a hole in a comic painted screen". We have carte-de-visite and tintype examples but were surprised to find the ambrotype below. A quarter plate in a red hanging frame, we assume is an English seaside souvenir from the latter part of the 19th century.

Below is an ambrotype of a young man standing beside his high wheel bicycle. His arm rests on the seat of the prized machine. It is unusual because of the high wheeled bicycle but also because it was taken outside and not in a studio. Like the daguerreotype most ambrotypes were portraits taken in the studio. We have only a few outdoor examples in our collection.

high wheel bicycle
Cased Images
Ambrotypes < You are Here

Return to The Collection of Collections page

Collection of Collections Site Map

Contact us at studio@brightbytes.com

**NOTE** All items on the Collection of Collections web site are in our private collection and are NOT for sale. From time to time duplicate items from our collection will be offered for sale in the Do You Remember This? shop on the GoAntiques cyber mall. Visit the Do You Remember This? inventory page for photographica and toaster related collectibles.

Please feel free to write us if you want to chat or share information about areas we collect but we will NOT give appraisals.

© Bright Bytes Studio - Do not use images without permission

Updated on 11/2005