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Mourning mother ambrotype

In Photographs > Ambrotypes > Show & Tell and Womens Clothing > Victorian Era Clothing > Show & Tell.
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    Posted 10 years ago

    (969 items)

    This ninth plate ambrotype depicts a mother holding an earlier image of her son who is recently deceased.

    This type of mourning photography is unusual to find with such sharpness to the copy image (especially on such a small photograph).

    The woman also appears to be wearing a mourning bracelet that is woven from hair.

    This is probably the clearest example in my collection.

    The image is housed in a nice thermoplastic case. Both the image and case date from the late 1850s.

    Reproduction of these images in any form is prohibited.


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    1. Manikin Manikin, 10 years ago
      The lady looks like a early China doll I have had which by hairstyle dates her more in 1840's . Great photo :-)
    2. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      I like the hairstyle too. Ambrotypes are 1854 at the earliest-- she just didn't keep up with the "modern" trends!

    3. Manikin Manikin, 10 years ago
      I guess living out in the old country word did not reach her Scott :-) Interesting that ambrotypes were not made until 1854 . I learned something . Thanks
    4. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      In regards to mourning photography such as what Scott has been posting, people had a different attitude about death in the mid-1800s and images played an important part. Typically loved ones were mourned in homes before being buried. This is when a photographer typically showed up. In summary, post mortem and mourning images were often the only way to remember loved ones. And the images often appeared in family albums. Manikin brings up a good point about learning of a loved one's death. This is where photography was important - fast communications wasn't available and images invoking memories traveled very well.

      In regards to ambrotypes, when invented in 1854 they were originally called "daguerreotypes on glass." The term 'ambrotype' was coined by Marcus A. Root (famed dag photographer) in 1855. FWIW, I have two Root daguerreotype studio tokens posted here on CW:
    5. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Rob-- I always heard that James AMBROSE Cutting was credited with the name as a take on his middle name.

      Cutting had several early patents (in the US) that were related to the process.

    6. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      Scott ... interesting that you bring this up ... the actual coining of 'ambrotype' has always been a bit murky; however, I but can clear this up with a primary reference by M.A. Root himself. In my library, I own his 1864 book entitled "The Camera and the Pencil or the Heliographic Art, its theory and practice in all its various branches, e.g. daguerreotypy, photography, &c;" - quite a title ... no? It was published as a “Theoretical and practical treatise, and designed alike, as a text-book and a hand-book.” Another verbal mouthful but photography was still young and book titles were quite descriptive.

      Marcus A. Root sums up the origins of the ambrotype on pages 372 and 373 in a chapter called "History of the Heliographic Art." It all starts with Dr. Giles Langdell publishing Archer's collodion on paper process. Root then goes on to write:

      "After considerable improvements, this process was first introduced, in 1854, into various daguerrian establishments, in the Eastern and Western States by Cutting & Rehn. In June of this year, Cutting procured patents for the process, though Langdell had already worked it from the printed formulas.

      The process has since been introduced, as a legitimate business, into the leading establishments of our country. The positive branch of it; i.e. a solar impression upon one glass plate, which is covered by a second hermetically sealed thereto, is entitled the "Ambrotype," (or the “imperishable picture"), a name devised in my gallery."

      Root probably created the term 'ambrotype' in honor of Cutting, but he doesn't elaborate.

      Hope this helps!
    7. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Thanks rob-- just further muddies the water.

      I don't think that an "I/ we came up with name" clears anything up-- it just shows someone taking credit.

      Remember Al Gore invented the internet!

    8. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      Your point is a good one, but the problem I see is the lack of primary references by Cutting himself whereby he uses the term ambrotype. He describes the process, improves the process created by others, and patents the improvements, but there are no writings [at this time] authored by Cutting using the term ambrotype.

      On the other hand, Root was probably one of the most celebrated photographers of his time. Given Root's stature, if the claim was not truthful, it would have raised quite a stink - especially since Cutting was still alive when Root claimed to have invented the term. (Kind of like your point about Al Gore ... but the difference is that Gore’s 1999 comment; “took the initiative of creating of the Internet”; drew an immediate public reaction because its invention was thoroughly documented.) IMO, Root was honoring Cutting's contributions.

      If we look at the invention of photography, the first use of the term daguerreotype was actually coined by Daguerre himself. We know this as fact because in Daguerre’s actual broadsheet, he claims the term daguerreotype was based on his name. This important document resides in the George Eastman House. Logically, I would like to believe Cutting named the process after himself, but it doesn’t make sense... why not cuttingtype or even ambrosetype? Maybe someday a Cutting missive might appear, but after over 30 years of collecting I’ve yet to see it. So, for now I have to go with the primary references (my own pet peeve).

      BTW ... this decent discussion doesn’t detract from my opinion that your image is quite nice.
    9. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Good points. I just have a hard time with accepting a self serving claim of any kind without some outside confirmation.

      I am not sure on the printed run of the book-- maybe you know rob? Was the claim repeated in other publications of the era.

    10. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Thanks official and amber.

    11. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Thanks fluffy and bootson.

    12. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Thanks for looking moonstone and vetraio!

    13. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Thanks for looking jonah. Both Mourning and PM images are very popular and have a strong collector following.

    14. Manikin Manikin, 10 years ago
      To get bacl to my first comment :-) Scott when we decided she was not up to date and I said I have had China dolls that look like her 1940's
      Take a look at this one and also price :-)
    15. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Wow-- is it really worth an amount close to that or is the seller overpriced?

      I wish doll collectors were willing to spend on images with the dolls!

    16. scottvez scottvez, 9 years ago
      Thanks for looking toni!

    17. scottvez scottvez, 9 years ago
      Thanks gritty!

    18. scottvez scottvez, 9 years ago
      Thanks rade and pat.


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