Daguerreotypes were replaced within a decade by a newer photographic technique. This method, first developed in 1851 by Englishman James Cutting (1814-1867), made use of a different process. A positive image was developed on a chemically-treated wet glass plate and then placed against a dark background, creating a positive image. The term “ambrotype” was derived from its US patent holder, James Ambrose.

Like daguerreotypes, ambrotypes were placed in fancy protective cases. The new process was easier, cheaper, and quickly came to dominate the market in 1850s and early 1860s California. Ambrotypes continued to serve as an ideal portrait medium for producing a “likeness” which miners could send back to their families after months or years of separation.

ambrotype of building