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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The ambrotype (from Ancient Greek: ἀμβροτός — “immortal”, and τύπος — “impression”) also known as a collodion positive in the UK, is a positive photograph on glass made by a variant of the wet plate collodion process. Like a print on paper, it is viewed by reflected light. Like the daguerreotype, which it replaced, and like the prints produced by a Polaroid camera, each is a unique original that could only be duplicated by using a camera to copy it.

Many ambrotypes were made by unknown photographers, such as this American example of a Union soldier (Sgt. Samuel Smith, 119th USCT[1]) with his family, circa 1863–65. Because of their fragility, ambrotypes were usually kept in folding cases like those used for daguerreotypes. This example is framed for display.

The ambrotype was introduced in the 1850s. During the 1860s it was superseded by the tintype, a similar photograph on thin black-lacquered iron, hard to distinguish from an ambrotype if under glass.