Baltimore City Nineteenth-Century Photos  


Baltimore City Nineteenth-Century Photos

Glossary of Terms

For most of us in the 21st century a photograph is distinguished as a print or a slide or for the really up-to-date an electronic or digital image. For those who have had a few more birthdays,
photographs might be remembered as black-and-white versus color.
Truth is, historically, photographic images have gone through quite a number
of variations, starting out with the earliest images created by a
Frenchman named of Jacques Louis Mande Daguerre, hence the
label, daguerreotype.

The list that follows, is a short annotated alphabetical grouping of terms that apply to the
images contained on this web site. It is not all-inclusive by any means. If you are
looking for a textbook of photographic history, try one
of the links on my Link Page. The terms here will help
the average reader with the photographs and text found on
"Baltimore City Nineteenth-Century Photos."

All definitions are taken from O. Henry Mace, Collector's Guide to Early
Photographs, 2nd edition, 1999, Krause Publications.


Albumen Print: albumen is the white of a chicken egg, used in photography as a base for holding light-sensitive silver solutions to paper or glass.

Cabinet Card:  a photographic print mounted to a card measuring 4.25 by 6.50 inches, popular from the late 1860s. Most cabinet cards were albumen prints, although other processes were sometimes used. The majority of the images on "Baltimore City Nineteenth-Century Photos" are cabinet cards. Check out this cabinet card.

Calotype: the first practical form of photography on paper, introducedin 1841.

Carte-de-Visite: an albumen print on a lightweight cardboard mount measuring 2.5 by 4.24 inches, popular from the mid-1850s in Europe and from 1860 in America. Take a look at this CDV.

Daguerreotype: the world's first practical photographic process, announced by Jacques Daguerre in 1839. Daguerreotypes were produced on silver-coated copper plates and usually housed in protective leather or plastic cases. None of the images on "Baltimore City Nineteenth-Century Photos" are daguerreotypes. Only in rare instance is the photography studio identified on a daguerreotype. Rarer still, is the daguerreotype that contains the name of the subject.

Ferrotype: a tintype plate created in the 1850s. The term is technically more correct than tintype since the plates were made of iron, not tin. View these examples.

Foxing: the small brown spots which develop on older paper photographs, particularly albumen prints, probably caused by chemical instabilities in the paper.

Gallery: popular name for early portrait studios.

Gilt: a small amount of gold applied to the image surface to represent jewelry, buttons, etc. Look at this image as an example of gilting.

Silver Print: a generic name given to all paper prints produced after the introduction of gelatin-coated paper, on which the image is formed by silver.

Stereograph: a pair of pictures of the same object, taken at slightly different angles, presented side by side for viewing in a stereoscope. Landscapes were most commonly represented by stereographs rather than portraits. None of the images on "Baltimore City Nineteenth-Century Photos" is a stereograph.

Tintype: a popular name for a ferrotype process where images were produced on thin sheets of iron painted on the back with Japan varnish. Tintypes were produced from 1858 to 1930 but peaked during 1858 to 1865. Comparatively speaking, they were relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, tintypes were usually mounted in paper holders that seldom survive intact. Take a look at Edward Hitselberger's picture.

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