Monday, August 1, 2016

Adventures in the Archives: Dr. Richard Thompson Collection - daguerrotypes and tintype

Adventures in the Archives continues....

When processing an archival collection, one may come across a rare find. In the case of the Dr. Richard L. Thompson D.D.S Papers, Crystal Stanley, our former Archives and Reference Assistant (now the Director of Library Services at Ranger College) found quite a few rarities. Six daguerreotypes and one tintype were discovered. You may be asking yourself: 

The first six images in this post are daugerrotypes.  They were on a silver-coated copper plate.  Daguerreotypes have a reflective surface, somewhat like a hologram. When viewed from one angle, a daguerreotype appears shiny and light-colored, and from the other angle it is negative with a duller matte finish.

Daguerreotypes are usually in a case sealed behind a thick piece of glass for protection, as the silver coat of the image is easy to damage.  The case often has a hinged cover, and the outside is sometimes covered with embossed leather, and lined with silk or velvet facing the picture.

Daguerrotypes were first used about 1839 and were popular until about 1860.

There is one tintype in the collection, which is pictured at left.  Tintypes, also known as ferrotypes, have grayish-white images with low contrast.  Tintypes were made on a thin black-enameled (or japanned) iron plate.  The process to make them was first developed about 1853.  Because then end product was lighter in weight, and because it was quicker and cheaper than the process to make daguerrotypes, tintypes had pretty much replaced the older process by 1860.  They remained popular in the early 1900s and even until about 1940.

Unfortunately, we have no idea who is pictured in this photographs.  All we can say for sure is that the daguerrotypes date after 1839 (and probably before 1860), and the tintype dates after 1853.   Likely these are images of ancestors of Dr. Richard L. Thompson, the owner.  More about him in the next post in this series.

For assistance with or to request to see archival materials, contact Collections Archivist Gary Spurr by phone at (254)968-1808, email at or

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