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Frederick Scott Archer

1813 — 1857

Frederick Archer was an Englishman who apprenticed as a bullion dealer and silversmith. He moved on to work as a sculptor creating busts of well known people. In 1847 he began using photography as an aid for this work. He was unsatisfied with the calotype process and the paper negative. In 1849 he made a breakthrough when he coated a glass plate with a collodion solution and exposed the plate while it was still wet. It then required the photographic material to be coated, sensitized and developed within the span of about 15 minutes in a dark room. When a metal plate is coated with collodion, charged with silver nitrate, exposed, and developed, it produces a direct positive image on the plate. It enabled photographers to dramatically reduce exposure times.

This was a major advance in photography as more than one copy of a picture could be made. Archer made several other photographic advancements but he did not initially attempt to patent his processes. He did later patent several of his inventions but he died in poverty, in 1857, before he could reap any benefits.

Last Updated on: 2024-02-28