Photography with magnesium light, Birmingham, 1865.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving taken from the 'Illustrated London News'. This demonstration of 'photography by the magnesium light and the consequent production of that clas of miniatures called "pistolgrams"' was given to the British Asociation in Birmingham. Although the use of burning magnesium powder to provide the light for photography had been pioneered in 1859, the scarcity of magnesium had made its use prohibitively expensive until 1865. The use of various devices using magnesium was widespread between the 1880s and the late 1920s, when the flashbulb was introduced. The 'pistolgram' was a miniature camera produced by Thomas Skaife.