On this day, 18th November 1787, Louis Daguerre, the French...

On this day, 18th November 1787, Louis Daguerre, the French inventor of the daguerreotype process of photography, was born.

The daguerreotype is a unique positive photograph presenting a fine grey mercury‐silver amalgam image on polished silver. The process derives from J. N. Niépce’s early 1830s experiments with iodine fumes to sensitize a silver‐plated copper plate. Niépce’s partner Louis Daguerre later discovered mercury vapour developer and salt fixer, announcing the daguerreotpe process in 1839. Daguerreotypes were typically made as small portraits presented in hinged, padded, and glassed cases, and were popular until the mid‐1850s, when they were supplanted by ambrotypes.

This definition comes from the Oxford Companion to the Photograph - available through the Oxford Reference Online database - one of the Eresources available to NSW residents with a State Library of NSW card.

The State Library of New South Wales has a large number of daguerreotype photographs in its collection, including the earliest known photograph taken in Australia, of William Bland in 1845.

See our Discover Collections feature on Photography in Sydney.