Crayon Daguerreotype


Wichita Falls Texas

The several processes enumerated at the head of this chapter, are all discoveries of English philosophers, with the exception of the third and last named. Anthotype was first attempted by M. Ponton a French savan, although it was reserved to Mr. Hunt to bring the process to its present state. The "Crayon Daguerreotype" is an improvement made by J. A Whipple, Esq., of Boston.


So called from the circumstance of cyanogen in its combinations with iron performing a leading part in the process. It was discovered by Sir John Herschel. The process is a simple one, and the resulting pictures are blue.

Brush the paper over with a solution of the ammonio-citrate of iron. This solution should be sufficiently strong to resemble sherry wine in color. Expose the paper in the usual way, and pass over it very sparingly and evenly a wash of the common yellow ferro-cyanate of potass. As soon as the liquid is applied, the negative picture vanishes, and is replaced by a positive one, of a violet blue color, on a greenish yellow ground, which at a certain time possesses a high degree of sharpness, and singular beauty of tint.

A curious process was discovered by Sir John Herschel, by which dormant pictures are produced capable of developement by the breath, or by keeping in a moist atmosphere. It is as follows.

If nitrate of silver, specific gravity 1.200 be added to ferro-tartaric acid, specific gravity 1.023, a precipitate falls, which is in a great measure redissolved by a gentle heat, leaving a black sediment, which, being cleared by subsidence, a liquid of a pale yellow color is obtained, in which the further addition of the nitrate causes no turbidness. When the total quantity of the nitrated solution added amounts to about half the bulk of the ferro-tartaric acid, it is enough. The liquid so prepared does not alter if kept in the dark. Spread on paper, and exposed wet to the sunshine (partly shaded) for a few seconds, no impression seems to be made, but by degrees, although withdrawn from the action of light, it developes itself spontaneously, and at length becomes very intense. But if the paper be thoroughly dried in the dark, (in which state it is of a very pale greenish yellow color,) it possesses the singular property of receiving a dormant or invisible picture, to produce which from thirty to sixty seconds' exposure to sunshine is requisite. It should not be exposed too long, as not only is the ultimate effect less striking, but a picture begins to be visibly produced, which darkens spontaneously after it is withdrawn. But if the exposure be discontinued before this effect comes on, an invisible impression is the result, to develope which all that is necessary is to breathe upon it, when it immediately appears, and very speedily acquires an extraordinary intensity and sharpness, as if by magic. Instead of the breath, it may be subject to the regular action of aqueous vapor, by laying it in a blotting paper book, of which some of the outer leaves on both sides have been dampened, or by holding over warm water.


Under this title a process has been brought forward by Mr. Hunt. It consists of the application of a solution of succinic acid to paper, which is subsequently washed over with nitrate of silver. The image is then to be taken either in the camera or otherwise, as required, and is brought out by the application of the sulphate of iron in solution. Although this process has not come into general use, its exact description may be interesting to the general reader, and we therefore subjoin it.

The solution with which the paper is first washed is to be prepared as follows: succinic acid, two drachms; common salt, five grains; mucilage of gum arabic, half a fluid drachm; distilled water, one fluid drachm and a half. When the paper is nearly dry, it is to be brushed over with a solution of nitrate of silver, containing a drachm of the salt, to an ounce of distilled water. It is now ready for exposure in the camera. To bring out the dormant picture it is necessary to wash it with a mixture of a drachm of concentrated solution of the green sulphate of iron and two drachms and a half of mucilage of gum arabic.

Subsequently, however, it has been found that the sulphate of iron produces upon all the salts of silver effects quite as beautiful as in the succinate. On the iodide, bromide, acetate, and benzoate, the effects are far more pleasing and striking. When pictures are produced, or the dormant camera image brought out, by the agency of sulphate of iron, it is remarkable how rapidly the effect takes place. Engravings can be thus copied almost instantaneously, and camera views obtained in one or two minutes on almost any preparation of silver. The common sulphate of copper solution has the same property.


Many efforts have been made to render chromatic acid an active agent in the production of photographs. M. Ponton used a paper saturated with bichromate of potash, and this was one of the earliest photogenic processes. M. Becquerel improved upon this process by sizing the paper with starch previous to the application of the bichromate of potash solution, which enabled him to convert the negative picture into a positive one, by the use of a solution of iodine, which combined with that portion of the starch on which the light had not acted. But by neither of these processes could clear and distinct pictures be formed. Mr. Hunt has, however, discovered a process which is so exceedingly simple, and the resulting pictures of so pleasing a character, that, although it is not sufficiently sensitive for use in the camera, it will be found of the greatest value for copying botanical specimens, engravings, or the like.

The paper to be prepared is washed over with a solution of sulphate of copper--about one drachm to an ounce of water--and partially dried; it is then washed with a moderately strong solution of bichromate of potash, and dried at a little distance from the fire. Paper thus prepared may be kept any length of time, in a portfolio, and are always ready for use.

When exposed to the sunshine for a time, varying with the intensity of the light, from five to fifteen or twenty minutes, the result is generally a negative picture. It is now to be washed over with a solution of nitrate of silver, which immediately produces a very beautiful deep orange picture upon a light dim colored, or sometimes perfectly white ground. This picture must be quickly fixed, by being washed in pure water, and dried. With regard to the strength of the solutions, it is a remarkable fact, that, if saturated solutions be employed, a negative picture is first produced, but if the solutions be three or four times their bulk of water, the first action of the sun's rays darkens the picture, and then a very bleaching effect follows, giving an exceedingly faint positive picture, which is brought out with great delicacy by the silver solution.

It is necessary that pure water should be used for the fixing, as the presence of any muriate damages the picture, and here arises another pleasing variation of the Chromatype. If the positive picture be placed in a very weak solution of common salt the image slowly fades out, leaving a faint negative outline. If it now be removed from the saline solution, dried, and again exposed to sunshine, a positive picture of a lilac color will be produced by a few minutes exposure. Several other of the chromates may be used in this process, but none is so successful as the chromate of copper.


The expressed juice, alcoholic, or watery infusion of flowers, or vegetable substances, may be made the media of photogenic action. This fact was first discovered by Sir John Herschel. We have already given a few examples of this in the third chapter.

Certain precautions are necessary in extracting the coloring matter of flowers. The petals of fresh flowers are carefully selected, and crushed to a pulp in a marble mortar, either alone or with the addition of a little alcohol, and the juice expressed by squeezing the pulp in a clean linen or cotton cloth. It is then to be spread upon paper with a flat brush, and dried in the air without artificial heat. If alcohol be not added, the application on paper must be performed immediately, as the air (even in a few minutes), irrecoverably changes or destroys their color. If alcohol be present this change is much retarded, and in some cases is entirely prevented.

Most flowers give out their coloring matter to alcohol or water. Some, however, refuse to do so, and require the addition of alkalies, others of acid, &c. Alcohol has, however, been found to enfeeble, and in many cases to discharge altogether these colors; but they are, in most cases, restored upon drying, when spread over paper. Papers tinged with vegetable colors must always be kept in the dark, and perfectly dry.

The color of a flower is by no means always, or usually, that which its expressed juice imparts to white paper. Sir John Herschel attributes these changes to the escape of carbonic acid in some cases; to a chemical alteration, depending upon the absorption of oxygen, in others; and again in others, especially where the expressed juice coagulates on standing, to a loss of vitality, or disorganization of the molecules. To secure an eveness of tint on paper, the following manipulation is recommended:--The paper should be moistened on the back by sponging and blotting off. It should then be pinned on a board, the moist side downwards, so that two of its edges (suppose the right-hand and lower ones) shall project a little beyond those of the board. The board then being inclined twenty or thirty degrees to the horizon, the alcoholic tincture (mixed with a very little water, if the petals themselves be not very juicy) is to be applied with a brush in strokes from left to right, taking care not to go over the edges which rest on the board; but to pass clearly over those that project; and observing also to carry the tint from below upwards by quick sweeping strokes, leaving no dry spaces between them, but keeping up a continuity of wet spaces. When all is wet, cross them by another set of strokes from above downwards, so managing the brush as to leave no floating liquid on the paper. It must then be dried as quickly as possible over a stove, or in a warm current of air, avoiding, however, such heat as may injure the tint.

In addition to the flowers already mentioned in my third chapter, the following are among those experimented upon and found to give tolerable good photographic sensitives. I can only enumerate them, referring the student, for any further information he may desire on the subject, to Mr. Hunt's work; although what I have said above is sufficient for all practical purposes; and any one, with the ambition, can readily experiment upon them, without further research, on any other flower he may choose.

Viola Odorata--or sweet sented violet, yields to alcohol a rich blue color, which it imparts in high perfection to paper

Senecio Splendens--or double purple groundsel, yields a beautiful color to paper.

The leaves of the laurel, common cabbage, and the grasses, are found sufficiently sensitive.

Common Merrigold yields an invaluable faecula, which appears identical with that produced by the Wall-flower, and Cochorus japonica mentioned before, and is very sensitive, but photographs procured upon it cannot be preserved, the color is so fugitive.

From an examination of the researches of Sir John Herschel on the coloring matter of plants, it will be seen that the action of the sun's rays is to destroy the color, effecting a sort of chromatic analysis, in which two distinct elements of color are separated, by destroying the one and leaving the other outstanding. The action is confined within the visible spectrum, and thus a broad distinction is exhibited between the action of the sun's rays on vegetable juices and on argentine compounds, the latter being most sensibly affected by the invisible rays beyond the violet.

It may also be observed, that the rays effective in destroying a given tint, are in a great many cases, those whose union produces a color complementary to the tint destroyed, or, at least, one belonging to that class of colors to which such complementary tint may be preferred. For instance, yellows tending towards orange are destroyed with more energy by the blue rays; blues by the red, orange and yellow rays; purples and pinks by yellow and green rays.


This process is a discovery of Sir John Herschel and receives its name from the fact that both negative and positive photographs can be produced by one process. The positive pictures obtained by it have a perfect resemblance to impressions of engravings with common printer's ink. The process, although not yet fully carried out, promises to be of vast utility.

Paper proper for producing an amphitype picture may be prepared either with the ferro-tartrate or the ferro-citrate of the protoxide, or the peroxide of mercury, or of the protoxide of lead, by using creams of these salts, or by successive applications of the nitrates of the respective oxides, singly or in mixture, to the paper, alternating with solutions of the ammonia-tartrate or the ammonia-citrate of iron, the latter solution being last applied, and in more or less excess. I purposely avoid stating proportions, as I have not yet been able to fix upon any which certainly succeed. Paper so prepared and dried takes a negative picture, in a time varying from half an hour to five or six hours, according to the intensity of the light; and the impression produced varies in apparent force from a faint and hardly perceptible picture to one of the highest conceivable fulness and richness both of tint and detail, the color being in this case a superb velvety brown. This extreme richness of effect is not produced unless lead be present, either in the ingredients used, or in the paper itself. It is not, as I originally supposed, due to the presence of free tartaric acid. The pictures in this state are not permanent. They fade in the dark, though with very different degrees of rapidity, some (especially if free tartaric or citric acid be present) in a few days, while others remain for weeks unimpaired, and require whole years for their total obliteration. But though entirely faded out in appearance, the picture is only rendered dormant, and may be restored, changing its character from negative to positive, and its colors from brown to black, (in the shadows), by the following process:--A bath being prepared by pouring a small quantity of solution of pernitrate of mercury into a large quantity of water, and letting the subnitrated precipitates subside, the picture may be immersed in it, (carefully and repeatedly clearing off all air bubbles,) and allowed to remain till the picture (if any where visible,) is entirely destroyed; or if faded, till it is judged sufficient from previous experience; a term which is often marked by the appearance of a feeble positive picture, of a bright yellow hue, on the pale yellow ground of the paper. A long time (several weeks) is often required for this, but heat accelerates the action, and it is often completed in a few hours. In this state the picture is to be very thoroughly rinsed and soaked in pure warm water, and then dried. It is then to be well ironed with a smooth iron, heated so as barely not to injure the paper, placing it, for greater security against scorching, between clean smooth paper. If then the process have been successful, a perfectly black positive picture is at once developed. At first it most commonly happens that the whole picture is sooty or dingy to such a degree that it is condemned as spoiled, but on keeping it between the leaves of a book, especially in a moist atmosphere, by extremely slow degrees this dinginess disappears, and the picture disengages itself with continually increasing sharpness and clearness, and acquires the exact effect of a copper-plate engraving on a paper more or less tinted with a pale yellow.

I ought to observe, that the best and most uniform specimens which I have procured have been on paper previously washed with certain preparations of uric acid, which is a very remarkable and powerful photographic element. The intensity of the original negative picture is no criterion of what may be expected in the positive. It is from the production by one and the same action of light, of either a positive or negative picture according to the subsequent manipulations, that I have designated the process, thus generally sketched out, by the term Amphitype,--a name suggested by Mr. Talbot, to whom I communicated this singular result; and to this process or class of processes (which I cannot doubt when pursued will lead to some very beautiful results,) I propose to restrict the name in question, though it applies even more appropriately to the following exceedingly curious and remarkable one, in which silver is concerned:

At the last meeting I announced a mode of producing, by means of a solution of silver, in conjunction with ferro-tartaric acid, a dormant picture brought into a forcible negative impression by the breath or moist air. (See Cyanotype.) The solution then described, and which had at that time been prepared some weeks, I may here incidentally remark, has retained its limpidity and photogenic properties, quite unimpaired during the whole year since elapsed, and is now as sensitive as ever,--a property of no small value. Now, when a picture (for example an impression from an engraving) is taken on paper washed with this solution, it shows no sign of a picture on its back, whether that on its face is developed or not; but if, while the actinic influence is still fresh upon the face, (i.e., as soon as it is removed from the light), the back be exposed for a very few seconds to the sunshine, and then removed to a gloomy place, a positive picture, the exact complement of the negative one on the other side, though wanting of course in sharpness if the paper be thick, slowly and gradually makes its appearance there, and in half an hour or an hour acquires a considerable intensity. I ought to mention that the "ferro-tartaric acid" in question is prepared by precipitating the ferro-tartrate of ammonia (ammonia-tartrate of iron) by acetate of lead, and decomposing the precipitate by dilute sulphuric acid. When lead is used in the preparation of Amphitype paper, the parts upon which the light has acted are found to be in a very high degree rendered water proof.--Sir J. Herschel.

This process is a new invention of our countryman, J. A. Whipple, Esq., of Boston, and has been patented by M. A. Root, Esq., of Philadelphia. It will be seen, however, from the previous pages of my work that Mr. Root is mistaken in regard to his being the first improvement patented in this country, although it is unquestionably the first by an American. Of this improvement Mr. Root says:


"The improvement to which you refer is denominated "The Crayon Daguerreotype." This invention made by Mr. J. A. Whipple, is the only improvement in Daguerreotyping, I believe, for which Letters Patent for the United States were ever issued. The pictures produced by this process--which is of the simplest description imaginable--have the appearance and effect of very fine "Crayon Drawings," from which the improvement takes its name. Some of our most distinguished artists have given it their unqualified admiration. Among them, our Mezzotinto Engravers, especially John Sartain, Esq., who, from his rich embellishments to most of the leading Magazines and Annuals of the country, as well as from the celebrity of the superb Magazine which bears his name, is so well known and so well qualified to judge of its merits. As an auxiliary to the artist, in furnishing heads to the Magazines, or other works, it is invaluable; the great object which it accomplishes being to give a finer effect and more distinct expression to all the features--the whole power of the instrument being directed to, and confined to the head."

"The late hour at which this subject has been brought to our notice prevents so full a description as we would otherwise have been glad to furnish. The New England States have been disposed of; negotiations for any of the others can be made through M. A. Root, 140 Chestnut street, Philadelphia."

"A series of beautiful portraits are about being prepared by the "Crayton Process" for the express purpose of being placed on the exhibition at the "Art Union," when amateurs, artists, and the public generally will have an opportunity of witnessing its effect. We are especially gratified with this striking improvement, from the advantages which it promises to the Daguerrean art."

"It is admirably designed to excite a new interest on the subject through the community, and in this way--and from its tendency to render the art more generally useful, and to elevate and distinguish it--to make it to all a matter of more general importance."

"Yours respectfully,

"M. A. ROOT."

In our second edition, we hope--with Mr. Root's permission--to lay the whole process before the public, although our artists must bear in mind that Mr. Root's patent secures to him the exclusive right of its application.