A daguerreotypist's equipment, c 1840.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Daguerreotype photography was invented by the French photographic pioneer Louis Daguerre (1789-1851) and was made public in 1839. In the daguerreotype proces a picture made on a silver surface sensitized with iodine was developed by exposure to mercury vapour. This illustrates the equipment used in the proces: a buffer (right) was used to impart a mirror-like gleam to the silvered surface of the plate (centre). This polishing was followed by sensitization using iodine and bromine vapours contained in a sensitizing box (top). After exposure the daguerreotype was developed by fuming with the vapour of heated mercury in a developing box (left), the beveller (bottom) put a neat edge on the plate.