Transferotypes and Miscellaneous Bases
This chapter discusses atrephographs, diazotypes, Eburneums,
enamelines, ivorytypes, and transferotypes.
The technique of moving an image from one substrate to another
was widely practised, for a variety of reasons. Photographers
explored every money‑making possibility of getting ahead
of their competitors, but there was also a fascination with the
flexible creativity of the new art. In addition to readily
available commercial plates and papers for routine work, there
were many "do-it-yourself" recipes for light sensitive
emulsions that could directly print pictures on almost any
This name does not refer to a process associated with any
particular insidual. Transferotype paper consisted of gelatin
silver bromide on top of a layer of water soluble (unhardened)
gelatin. After processing the exposed image, it was pressed
against another substrate while still wet. The application of
hot water to the back of the picture melted the soluble gelatin
so that the paper could be peeled off. The gelatin image was
reversed if viewed from the back, and was nearly transparent,
permitting hand tinting and special effects. Transfers were
made to many bases, such as wood, metal, colored glass, ivory,
leather, and fabrics. Metals were usually iron, copper, or
brass; aluminum was not a commercial product until the Hall
process was invented in 1886.
Transfers were also made by peeling the emulsion and placing it
face up on a second substrate. Care was required to avoid
wrinkles and air bubbles, but it did not reverse the image.
Contact transfer, as mentioned, reverses the image, and this
was sometimes one reason for doing it.
Silver bromide paper was first manufactured on a large scale by
Swan (England) in 1879, but transfers were made long before
that date with collodion, bichromated gelatin, and albumen
emulsions. Workers attempting to make flexible negatives and
stripping films tried various combinations of gelatin,
collodion, albumen, and rubber (see chapter 3). There is no
general recognition guide except analysis. If the top layer is
collodion, the reflected appearance is milky, while gelatin is
Emulsions on Other Substrates
Sensitized collodion syrup and bichromated gelatin could be
poured on almost any surface that could withstand processing
and that did not dissolve in the emulsion. Even then,
substrates such as cardboard, leather, and fabrics could be
varnished or "japanned". The latter was a generic term; real
"japanning" required baking, which of course could not be done
on temperature-sensitive or flammable materials.
If the surface was flat, a simple contact exposure was made,
while projection enlargements could be made on curved surfaces.
The reprint of the 1864 edition of Towler [145, 150‑151]
has detailed recipes. The same variety of substrate materials
mentioned above for transferotypes could be coated with liquid
emulsions. Some of the processes that were successful enough to
be dignified by name are described below:
This name was applied to several processes. Cardboard and
leather were coated with collodion and bichromated gelatin on
top of japan varnish. Images were also applied to the same
bases by transfer processes.
There is a large class of organic compounds that are listed
under the prefixes "azo" and "diazo" in organic chemistry
references, having in common a nitrogen atom in each molecular
arrangement. This class of compounds was discovered in Germany
in 1860 and was very extensively studied as the basis for
making dyes. Some of the compounds are light sensitive, and
this property was utilized by Adolf Feer in his 1889 patent.
Feertypes were not commercially important, but many workers
experimented with them, and they are the basis for the
important "Ozalid" process for copying large industrial line
drawings. Diazo compounds can be made in many colors, usually
low in color saturation, and have been applied largely to paper
and fabric bases.
This process was invented in 1865 by J. M. Burgess. A
collodion emulsion was applied to a waxed glass plate. After
exposure and processing, the surface was coated with a mixture
of gelatin and zinc oxide. The collodion was then peeled off
the waxed glass and remounted with the back side out. The white
zinc oxide pigment on the former front surface simulated an
ivory backing. The process reversed the image, but the original
negative could be reversed for the exposure.
Miniature portraits on ivory had been painted by artists for
many years, but they were expensive. In 1855 J. E. Mayall
(England) patented a cheaper process. He made tinted collodion
or albumen portraits on artificial ivory (the newly invented
celluloid), and called them "ivorytypes".
Ivorytypes were also made by adhering paper prints to glass,
usually with the image side against the glass, either by waxing
or by applying them wet from processing. Wax made the paper
translucent, and tinting made a lifelike effect against a white
background. Welling [149, 136] illustrates a double print
ivorytype with two tinted translucent paper prints, each on
separate glass backings and bound in register.
The name "ivorytype" seems to have been a generic name applied
to pictures that looked as though they were on ivory.
Ivorytypes were sometimes called imitation Eburneums, which in
turn were imitation ivory pictures. In spite of detracting
descriptions, many of the pictures were quite pleasing as well
as photographically faithful.
Microscopic examination can detect fibers in paper‑based
ivorytypes, compared with the fiberless collodion. It may be
possible to see zinc oxide grains in Eburneum pictures.
Ivorytypes are described in Cassell's [84, 313], Gernsheim [61,
344], and Welling [149, 136].
Enamelines and Fired Images
The art of firing decorated ceramics is perhaps 10,000 years
old. The concept of firing photographic images on inorganic
substrates seems to have originated in 1854 with the Frenchmen
Bulot and Cattin whose English patent covered transferred and
fired collodion pictures. Thereafter many photographic
processes were applied to and fired on glass, porcelain, and
enameled metal. It is difficult to generalize on appearances
because of the wide variety of materials and techniques.
Untinted photographs contained silver, chromium, platinum, or
iron, along with carbon from organic binders. These chemical
elements dissolved in the ceramic bodies, and the resulting
colors depended on the element, the ceramic, and on whether the
firing atmosphere was oxidizing or reducing. In addition,
ceramic pigments were often applied as dyes and tints on top of
the photographic image. Most ceramic pictures were miniature
portraits, but Gernsheim mentions Joubert's efforts in England
to make stained glass windows as large as 17 1/2 by 24
Microscopic examination can distinguish between fired images
and coated emulsion prints. Enamelled metal was usually copper.
Burbank [28, 165‑189] gives detailed recipes for several
processes. Other descriptions are found in Eder [48,
566‑568], Gernsheim [61, 342‑344], and Towler [145,