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Ambrotype Photographs

Ambrotype photograph of a young boy sitting with his hands clasped on his lap. Hes wearing a sailor type hat and suite. Photograph is black and white glass negative in gold frame
Ambrotype photograph showing a young boy. He is sittting looking at the camera with his hands crossed over his lap. A sailor style hat sits on his head, and he has a cheeky smile. Image courtesy of Preston Park Museum and Grounds.

Ambrotype is a type of early photography. It was popular in the 1850s and 60s but didn’t last too long as it was succeeded in a new style of photograph called the Tintype. Some lovely examples of Ambrotype photographs can be found in the collection at Preston Park Museum and Grounds.

The Ambrotype was first patented in 1854 by American photographer James Ambrose Cutting, but in the UK, it was known as a collodion positive. It was created by placing a glass plate negative in front of a dark background. This brings the details of the picture to life. They would then be framed in special cases to protect it as they are fragile.

In this video Rob Gibson from Gettysburg, PA produces an ambrotype.

This process is not as good as the most popular type of photograph of the time, the daguerreotype which was better quality. The ambrotype was cheaper and quicker to produce making it an ideal process.