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Daguerreotype of a young man, about 1850.

Daguerreotype of a young man, about 1850.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 28cm x 32cm


A hand-coloured daguerreotype of a young man, taken by William E. Kilburn (1819-1891) in about 1850.

William Kilburn opened his first photographic studio under the licence of Richard Beard (1801-1885), in 1847. He gained an excellent reputation and some of his work was displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851. In 1839, the Daguerreotype, invented by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre [1787-1851], became the first photographic process to be announced to the public. A highly-polished silver surface on a copper plate was sensitised to light by exposing it to iodine fumes. After exposing the plate in a camera it was developed with mercury vapour. Daguerreotypes are unique images which may appear as a positive or negative depending on how light hits the surface.

From the Kodak Collection at the National Science & Media Museum. This collection of photographs, equipment and printed material tracing the history of photography, was assembled by Kodak Limited and acquired from them in the mid-1980s. As well as approximately 200,000 photographs, the Collection includes nearly 10,000 items of photographic and cinematic equipment as well as books and printed ephemera. The Collection is especially strong in the area of popular photography. It includes examples of most of the products made by Kodak Limited and thousands of snapshots, dating back to the 1880s. It also contains work by known photographers such as Frank Meadow Sutcliffe and Paul Martin.

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© National Science & Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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