German Photography: Daguerreotype Process (1840s-early-1860s)

Figure 1.--This is typical German Daguerreotype, notice that it is uncased. We have been able to find few German Dags. This one was taken at the Collogne studio of J.J. Burbach. It is undated, but the dealer estimated about 1850. It shows four unidentified children, presumably siblings. There has been an attempt to colorize it, although the colors are very drab. The girls wear plain dresses. The boys wear belted tunic suits. Note one of the boys has a white collar, but one boy has no collar. Such collarless gtunics were relatively rare in America. Maße ca.15 x 12,6cm, Maße des Passepartoutausschnitts ca.9 x 7cm, normale Altersspuren, unbeschädigt, gut erhalten, rückseitig originales Atelieretikett von J.J.Burbach in Köln, originale kolorierte Daguerreotypie. Put your cursor on the image to see the photographer's back plate.

The first available commercial photographic process was the Daguerreotype which was developed in France at the end of the 1830s. We note large numbers of Dags, mostly in cases from the 1840s and 50s in America. We have been able to find very relatively little information about Dags in Europe, especially in thevvarious German states. While we have found a few German Dags, we do not see cased Dags at all. We do see colorized Dags, although we do not know how common they were. Dags in general were far less common in Germany than America. This is difficult to quantify, but we notice that German Dags sell for about 20-25 times as much as American Dags. That is probably a rough index of relative abundance. All of the 1840s photographs were Dags. By the 1850s other processes like Ambrotypes and Tintypes appeare. We have not yet found substantial numbers of German Dags. We are somewhat confused by this as surely there must have been a substantial number of Dags made as the German states were some of the more prosperous areas of Europe. Of course in the 1840s-50s, Germany was not yet unified. There were many different German states with a range of laws governing copyrights, including copyrights on photograohic processes. A variety of issues probably affected the number of German Dags, including copyright law, relative prosperity, and the stage of the industrial revolution. Germany was slower to industrialize than Britain and France, but by mid-century was making rapid progress. Even so, the relative prosperity of average workers and farmers lagged behind that of America and Britain and disposable income was a major factor in the purchasing of a Daguerreotype portrait.


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Created: 6:51 PM 1/2/2011
Last updated: 6:51 PM 1/2/2011