Seventy-five years of the progressive art of photography.

Jarman, Alfred J.

Journal : Wilson's photographic magazine, vol. li.

New York : Edward L. Wilson Co., 1914.

Description : pages 401-405.

Subject : Photography — History (of).


ON the 10th day of August, 1839, Daguerre divulged his process of producing pictures by the sun's rays upon silvered copper plates, and in the same year upon the 25th of January Henry Fox Talbot exhibited his "photogenic portraits," as he termed them, (they were photographs upon paper). That eminent philosopher, Michael Faraday, described the process before the members of the Royal Institution in London, while upon the 31st of January Fox Talbot read a paper before the Royal Society, giving a full description of his process.

The present year marks the seventy-fifth since photography was established by the introduction of the Daguerreotype.

It was in the month of March, 1839, that Sir John Herschel introduced hyposulphite of soda as a fixing agent, although he knew the solvent property of this salt upon the haloid salts of silver in 1819, and recorded the fact. Improvements took place rapidly in the production of Daguerreotypes, first by Goddard by the use of bromine, as well as the iodine of Daguerre, and further by the use of chlorine by Claudet. Following this improvement came the production of negatives upon paper by Fox Talbot, by means of which positive prints upon paper could be produced in any number. The heliographs of J. Nicéphore Niepce, produced in 1824, and his etched copper plates for use in the printing press, must not be overlooked, for it was this patient experimenter that invented photo-engraving, employing as he did the bitumen of Judea upon both silvered copper and copper plates ; the vapor of iodine was also employed by him to aid him in his investigations. The one great step in practical photography was made by Scott Archer in 1851. Le Gray had suggested the use of collodion as a vehicle for holding the sensitive salts of silver, and had tried this out with the fluoride of silver and failed. Scott Archer introduced the iodides, and eventually the bromides in an alcoholic solution, and mixed this with collodion, this latter body having only been discovered a few years before by dissolving gun-cotton in a mixture of sulphuric ether and alcohol. Archer coated glass plates with this iodized collodion, which, as soon as it became set, dipped it into a solution of nitrate of silver, which gave an extraordinary sensitive coating, then upon exposure in the camera for only a few seconds the image was developed with pyrogallic acid and fixed in hyposulphite of soda, the result being a beautiful positive by reflected light when backed with any black substance. The discovery was soon made to turn these positives into good negatives by treating the portrait with a weak solution of iodine, then blackening it with a weak solution of hydroslphuret of ammonia ; after this the plate was washed, dried and varnished. Any number of paper prints could now be made of such a clear and brilliant character as had never before been known. In these early photographic days legal difficulties arose. The process of Daguerre had been given to the world in 1839, yet one Beard patented the Daguerreotype process in England, and Talbot had patented his calotype paper negative process in 1841. The Daguerreotype patent ended in 1853, and in 1854 the action taken by Talbot against a professional photographer named Laroche for using the wet collodion process which was regarded by Talbot as an infringement of his patent, was lost. After this decision, the road for progress was clear. Photo-sulphate of iron came to be the universal developer, and cyanide of potassium the fixing agent. Collodion DRY plates were soon commenced, the first being made by Dr. J. Taupenot, and the process published on September the 8th and 15th in La Lamiere, 1855. The process consisted in using both collodion and albumen. Dr. Hill Norris of Birmingham, England, produced collodion dry plates also in 1855, using pyrogallic acid as a preservative, while in 1856 he patented a process of making collodion dry plates with a porous film, which included any gum-like preservative to enter. The date of this patent was September 1st, 1856. The Fothergill process differed but little from that of Taupenot. Rapid progress was made from this time on. The opalotype was brought out by George Wharton Simpson in 1864, when for the first time a citro-chloride of silver in collodion was used, both upon glass and paper. Collodion dry plates became a commercial article, and the invention of the solar camera by Woodward created an industry that hitherto had never been known. Photographs could be made to almost any size from a small negative by Woodward's apparatus. The method of printing in ink from copper plates, by the half-tone process, was being worked out by Baron von Egloffstein in 1860, in Philadelphia, and completed by him in 1864-1865. From this time printing from half-tone plates, made by use of a half-tone screen, commenced commercially. Fox Talbot was evidently the first person to discover that gelatine and bichromate of potash, when spread upon any object and dried and exposed to light, brought about insolubility in the exposed parts, while the unexposed parts remained soluble, as described in his patent of 1852. It was this underlying principle that formed the basis of the carbon process, photo-lithography and collotype printing. In 1855, Poitevin, a French engineer, applied this principle in several ways endeavoring to secure pictures in carbon, his principal work being defined in the founding of the collotype process. In 1858, John Pouncy, of Dorchester, in Dorsetshire, patented a method of producing pictures with a mixture of gum arabic, bichromate of potash and vegetable black. He named his invention the "carbon process" and showed some good results before the Photographic Society of London, in 1858. Pouncy's process is the gum bichromate process of to-day. The carbon process was made practical and patented by the late Sir Joseph Wilson Swan in 1864. A great improvement in the carbon process was made in 1869 by J. R. Johnson, and in 1874 came the one greatly needed invention of a flexible support, the discovery of the late Mr. J. R. Sawyer and patented by him. It was this most valuable discovery that put the final touch to carbon printing for the double-transfer process. The blueprint paper of to-day was the invention of Sir John Herschel in 1842. In 1871 the gelatine dry plate was made practical in place of collodion by Dr. Maddox, who produced some excellent results, one negative, a 3 1/4 x 4 1/4, the writer saw some years ago at one of the photographic exhibitions in London. These plates were not very sensitive, but in 1878 Charles Burnet, an English amateur, discovered that if the gelatine emulsion be kept at a moderate temperature, about 90 degrees Fahr., that the sensitiveness was increased enormously. From this date the rapid gelatine plate and rapid bromide papers became commercial articles. Ferrous oxalate developer came into use, a discovery of M. Carey Lea : following this came the developer made from the coal-tar derivatives, which today are practically the universal developer. The idea of employing paper in the roll for negative making in the camera was used in 1854 and 1855. The roll-holder, as it was called, is at least sixty years old. A patent was taken out in England on May 22nd. 1854, by two inventors, namely, J. B. Spencer and A. J. Mellinish.

In this invention it is described how two rollers are used to wind and unwind as much of the paper as it is desired to expose upon a long strip of specially made sensitive paper and rewound after an exposure has been made. Leon Warnecke in 1871 invented an improved roll-holder, employing two rollers with metallic ends, He also prepared paper with a sensitive collodion film, which after exposure and development, could be stripped from the paper. Excellent film negatives were made by this means, as many as 100 in a roll, but the stripping process did not seem to take hold upon those photographically inclined. Captain Barr, in India, in 1855, invented a roller dark slide, a description of which was published in the Journal of the Photographic Society of Bombay, April 21st of that year. Further improvements in the construction of roll-holders was made by the Eastman Walker Co., of Rochester, N. Y., in 1885, the workmanship of which was of a very superior character. What was needed to make these photographic appliances complete was a suitable transparent film, one that could be made to hold the emulsion firmly without stripping. Warnecke prepared a sensitive film in 1885 by coating a collodion base with a gelatine emulsion. Two years after this event, on May 2nd, 1887, the Rev. Hannibal Goodwin, of Newark, N. J., applied for a patent, the serial number being 236,780, in the United States Patent Office. There were numerous delays caused by warding off opposing contentions, and eventually a patent was granted on the 13th of September, 1898, the number being 610,861, The use of nitro-benzole being employed for its peculiar properties with the other solvents of nitrocellulose, forming a film apparently well adapted for the purpose designed. The reverend gentleman was not the inventor of celluloid ; this material was invented by Alexander Parks of Birmingham, England, in 1865, and carried out to a commercial point by Hyatt of Newark, N. J. John Corbutt, of Philadelphia, appears to be the first person to employ CELLULOID as a support for a sensitive surface. The writer possesses two of such negatives made by John Corbutt, with a gelatine emulsion made in 1884. Reichenbach followed Goodwin with another patent of a similar character. Both these inventors foresaw the value of a light. transparent body as a photographic basis in place of paper or glass. The daylight loading and unloading of the sensitive film appears to be the invention of an amateur. It was described to the Rev. A. M. Macdona when he was visiting in Norway, Sweden and Denmark in 1886. He had left his changing lamp behind and borrowed one from another amateur so as to change his rolls of films, when the amateur told him that he could make the change in daylight perfectly safe by sticking a piece of non-active paper upon each end of the film before commencing any exposures, taking care to roll the film and the paper up tightly. The amateur again stepped in here and placed the finishing touch and brought about the daylight loading film. It was by the discovery of celluloid and the several additions that has made the negative and positive films used in the cinematograph possible to-day.

The great desideratum needed to-day is a non-ignitable film, and this end is being rapidly approached, judging by the samples the writer has already tested, and advances are being made towards preventing the rapid ignition of the celluloid films in use at present. A number of new industries and professions have been created by the art of photography. The enormous trade that has been created in photographic instruments and appliances, the manufacture of dry plates, sensitive films and paper, consuming no less than seven tons of silver per month by one firm alone, the business of photo-engraving, special paper for photographic use, and the manufacture of celluloid for films of every kind used in photography has opened up an entirely new industry, employing thousands of hands never before thought of. A new field has been opened up for actors and actresses, new playwriters have been called into existence, new theaters have been built, new photographic apparati have been designed for the rapid production of film negatives, special projection machines have been called into existence, and as a result a new class of operator has been required, thus creating a livelihood for thousands of individuals. Trades of all kinds have been benefited by the use of correct representations of their goods. The astronomer has found in the sensitive plate a faithfulness of recording the impressions of the heavenly bodies and every kind of celestial phenomena. The flight of the projectile is also accurately recorded, and the invisible ultra-violet, ultra-red, and the radiographic rays impress their lasting record upon the photographic plate, even the microscopic germ is magnified and presented to our view by the photographic art, which discovery in its practical application has proved to be one of the most beneficial in many ways of the various arts discovered and applied by man in the course of its seventy-five years of existence; where nature has been compelled to record many of its secrets and turned to account for the benefit of mankind.

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