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H5572-3 Daguerreotype, embossed case, studio portrait of James Allpress, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / brass / velvet / leather, James Gow, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1858. Click to enlarge.

Daguerrotype of James Allpress, tipstaff at the Supreme Court

Made by Gow, James in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1858.

This photograph is one of the few surviving ambrotypes with links to Sydney, Australia. While millions of these ambrotype photographs were produced around the world and many thousands in Australia remarkably few have survived that can be linked to Australian society during the 1850s. It is even rarer to find portraits like this one where the sitter, James Allpress and photographer James Gow are identified.

In 1853 James Gow arrived in Sydney from San Francisco where he had run a photographic s...

Summary

Object No.

H5572-3

Object Statement

Daguerreotype, embossed case, studio portrait of James Allpress, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / brass / velvet / leather, James Gow, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1858

Physical Description

A daguerreotype showing a half length portrait of a boy photographed seated in a studio setting. The boy wears a three piece suit and tie. The daguerreotype is enclosed in a hinged case made from wood that has been covered in leather. The case opens to reveal the daguerreotype on the right hand side. The daguerreotype is framed in an oval brass mat that has been stamped with the photographers name and address. A glass panel sits over the top of the brass mat. The opposite side of the case is lined with red velvet that has been embossed with a decorative foliate pattern. On the outside of the case, the leather has been embossed with a decorative floral design which is surrounded by rectangular borders. Two metal clasps on the side of the case allow it to be closed securely. The daguerrotype is stored in custom-made enclosure with a support. Studio portrait of James Allpress, tipstaff at the Supreme Court

Marks

Text impressed into the brass mat surrounding the daguerreotype reads 'JAMES GOW / 253 GEORGE ST / SYDNEY'.

Dimensions

Width

170 mm

Depth

12 mm

Production

Notes

In 1851 Frederick Scott Archer announced the discovery of a new photographic process that could adhere to glass. This was a major breakthrough in the story of photography for the process made clear highly detailed negatives from which multiple copies could be made.

The general public had become used to their photographic portraits being taken using a daguerreotype process which were displayed in a small glass fronted case. To compete with this trade a special kind of collodion process, known as the ambrotype was introduced. This was essentially the same as other collodion negatives except that once the exposure had been taken the emulsion on the glass was bleached to whiten it. When this bleached negative was placed in a case against a black background it formed a positive image which bore a remarkable resemblance to the daguerreotype except it had the added advantage of not being highly reflective.

Australia followed rather than set photographic trends, but in the 1850s the massive boom caused by the discovery of gold ensured it was very quick to take up new processes like the ambrotype. Over the 1850s the ambrotype replaced the daguerreotype as the preferred method of taking portraits but even in the late 1850s daguerreotypes were still being made for more conservative customers.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, September 2009

References
J. Cato, The Story of the Camera in Australia, Third Edition, Institute of Australian Photography, Hong Kong, 1979
Michel Frizot, A New History of Photography, Amilcare Pizzi, Milan, 1998
Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, A Concise History of Photography, Thames and Hudson, Germany, 1965
A. Davies and P. Stanbury, 1985, The Mechanical Eye in Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne

History

Notes

According to the stock book and blue file the image is of James B. Allpress who later became tipstaff in the NSW Supreme Court.

Cite this Object

Harvard

Daguerrotype of James Allpress, tipstaff at the Supreme Court 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 August 2019, <https://ma.as/243698>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/243698 |title=Daguerrotype of James Allpress, tipstaff at the Supreme Court |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 August 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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