The popularity of photography with a rising middle class, which wanted but could not afford oil portraits, coincided with the birth of this new pet culture. 

Among the first kinds of photos available on a commercial scale was the daguerreotype, a direct positive made in the camera on very thin silver foil laid over a copper sheet.  The photo was like a mirror, and depending on the angle from which it was viewed, the color of the surface reflected into it, changing it from a negative to a positive.  Because of their extreme frailty, these one-of-a-kind pictures were mounted under glass and set  inside a hinged case conveniently sized to be carried on one's person.  

 right: French daguerreotype, ca.1850.  Some of these early photos were tinted with pigments to give the subject a more lifelike quality.

THURSTON.daguerr1.jpg (192409 bytes)

THURSTON.ambro.jpg (183272 bytes)

 

Ambrotype, ca.1858.  While the term ambrotype was derived from the Greek word ambro, meaning imperishable, it was still a delicate photograph. One advantage it did possess over the silver-based daguerreotype was that it did not tarnish. 

It is unknown if the dog shown here is merely asleep or has passed away.  Exposures for ambrotypes were extremely long, often making it a challenge to get a sharp image of an animal.  It was not uncommon in the Victorian age to call upon a photographer to capture one, and oftentimes the only, portrait of a departed loved one.

Hyalotype, ca.1860.  The introduction of "magic lantern" slides in 1849 allowed photographs to be viewed in an entirely new format. As a transparent slide projected onto a surface, the photograph could be seen for the first time by an audience. This expanded the utility of photography by changing it from an intimate medium to one that was appropriate for  mass entertainment. 
THURSTON.lantern.jpg (85592 bytes)

next