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Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, and Other Imagery: Ambrotypes

Ambrotypes from the Noyes Family Papers

James Matheson and Gussie Steele

Augusta “Gussie” Steele and James Matheson are featured in this ambrotype from the Noyes Family Papers collection. The Noyes and Steele family became close friends. Gussie Steele, the daughter, grew up with the daughters of the Noyes family. Gussie Steele later married James Matheson of Gainesville, Florida.

James Matheson built the historic Matheson House in Gainesville, Florida in 1867. It is the second-oldest residence in the city, and today it is a part of the Matheson Museum. For more information, please visit the museum's website (http://www.mathesonmuseum.org/).

Defining Features of Ambrotypes

Similar to daguerreotypes, ambrotypes also have defining features. The image of Gussie Steele and James Matheson demonstrates what is typically described as a shadow effect. Because ambrotype images were set onto emulsion-coated glass, they were coated with a black paint or varnish applied directly to the glass in order to give the images a background. This technique is what creates the shadow effect seen on the right arm and shoulder area of Gussie Steele (shown above) and the left arm and shoulder area of James Matheson (shown below).

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