U.S. Photographic Types: Albumen Process--Unmounted Prints

Figure 1.--This unmounted albumen print was taken in 1857. It is 3 7/8 in (9.8 cm) x 4 1/4 in (10.7 cm). We see a seated girl and a standing boy. Theylook to be about 6-8 years old. Notice the pose is the standard Dag and Ambro of a seated subject by a small table covered with a paterned textile. The standing boy is possible becaise of faster exosure times. The girl has sraighr hair combed down bt a center part--a popular style. Her dress has a fancy with a V-front bodice and a plain skirt. The boy has a cut-way jack and vest. All three elements are a different fabric and color. Notice the small collar and bow. He seems to be holding a rifel.

While the vast majority of albumen prints were mounted, mostly CDVs and cabinet cards, there were unmounted prints. Not very many, but there were some. The prints were mostly mounted on card stocks because the albumen print itself was very fragile. Pasting on card stock essentially was a way of protecting it. We begin to see unmounted albumen prints in the 1850s before the CDV became popular. The earliest American albumen print we have found so far dates to 1857 (figure 1), but there were earlier ones. By this time there were more photographic studios in America than in all of Europe. They were mostly doing Dags before 1855 and then began doing Ambros. They do not seem to have shown much interest in the albumen process. We have found so few examples in buiding HBC that we believe that they just were not very common. The earliest example is unmounted photographs. It did not take long for the convention of mounting the prints to become standard. Otherwise the fragile prints would not last very long. And as a result we have found very few unmounted prints.


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Created: 4:45 PM 5/14/2019
Last updated: 4:45 PM 5/14/2019