The daguerreotype was the first successful photographic process, the amazing discovery was announced on the 7th of January 1839.

The daguerreotype consisted of exposing copper plates to iodine, the fumes creating light silver iodine. The plate would have to be exposed to light for between 15 and 20 minutes.

Then it needed to be developed by placing it over mercury at a temperature of 75 degrees to cause the mercury to fuse with the silver. Later fixing the photo in a hot solution of common salt and afterwards it would need to be rinsed in hot distilled water. 

The quality of the images was fantastic but the process had its down sides. The photographs could not be reproduced so they were unique and the surface was extremely delicate and were housed under a glass case. The chemicals used were very toxic and the pictures were difficult to see from some angles.

Lord Brougham sat for his daguerreotype photograph he sat in the hot sun for half an hour and said he had never suffered so much in his life. To make the photography possible rests were used to keep the head still.

At that sort of time all photographs where black and white so, many artists turned to hand colouring the photos.

Prices of the daguerreotype

£1.05 in 1840

£0.55 in 1850