Name and location of repository
Level of description
Cased photographs collection
- 1840-2005 (Creation)
Content and structure elements
Scope and content
Collection consists of approximately 630 cased photographs, consisting primarily of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and cased and uncased tintypes (also called ferrotypes) dating from approximately 1840-1900. Also represented in this collection are less common cased image formats, including photographs on milk glass (opalotypes), collodion positives on fabric (pannotypes), Orotypes (goldtypes), cased card photographs, and photo buttons.
The photographs are primarily studio portraits of people, both individuals and groups. The majority of the people depicted had some connection to Oregon or the American West, though the photographs themselves may have been taken elsewhere. The photographs also include depictions of early Oregon street and residential scenes. The identities of the depicted individuals, photographers, and studios are documented in the condition reports for materials in this collection when known.
The collection also includes records and condition reports about many, but not all, of the photographs. These documents provide details about people or places depicted in the images; material types; condition of the images; any conservation care performed; and any known provenance. Condition reports are also included for images in a separate collection, Org. Lot 2, the William Lair Hill family photographs collection, also held at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use elements
Conditions governing access
Cased photographs are not available for direct access due to fragility. Researchers are asked to use digitized copies. Digital copies of case exteriors and interiors may be available upon request. Contact staff for assistance.
Conditions governing reproduction
Materials in this collection are in the public domain.
Languages of the material
Scripts of the material
Language and script notes
Acquisition and appraisal elements
Immediate source of acquisition
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information
Related materials elements
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related archival materials
Cased photographs are among the earliest forms of commercially available photography. Cased photographs were common in the mid-19th century and feature a photograph mounted in a shallow, hinged box, which was commonly made from leather, cloth, or composite thermoplastic (known as union cases) and lined in velvet. The most common early photographic processes, daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, were fragile mediums and the cases provided protection for the photographs. More stable later formats, particularly tintypes and cabinet photographs, were also sometimes cased throughout the later half of the 19th century.
Daguerreotypes were the earliest form of cased photograph. This technique was in common use from 1839 to the early 1860s. Daguerreotypes are made on a silver-coated copper plate developed using mercury fumes. They have a distinctive reflective surface with a laterally reversed image. Daguerreotypes were commonly topped with a glass plate and sealed to protect the photographic surface.
Ambrotypes were in common use from 1854 to the mid-1870s. They are made on glass using a wet-collodion process and backed with a dark finish to give the appearance of a positive photograph. Ambrotypes were commonly hand-tinted and mounted in a hinged case.
Tintypes (ferrotypes) were in common use from 1856 to the 1930s. They are made on a black varnished metal base, typically iron, using a wet-collodion process. Tintypes create a direct-positive photograph that is lighter in weight and more durable than previous formats. They were commonly cased, but are also often found in paper mats or uncased.
Online collection contains a selection of items from the full collection. More information about the full collection can be found here: http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv524853
- Citation: Cased photographs collection, Org. Lot 1414, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.