The Daguerreotype was invented by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851), a theatrical scenery painter and showman. Its invention was first announced to the public, in the form of the Académie des Sciences at Paris, by Dominic François Arago (1786-1853), on the 7th of January, 1839.

The Daguerreotype is a negative image, but one that will appear as a positive under the correct lighting conditions. It is supported on a copper plate, one side of which is covered by a highly polished layer of silver which has been made sensitive to light by exposing it to the vapour of iodine crystals (to form silver iodide). After exposure the plate is developed by exposing the surface to the vapour of heated mercury and then fixed by soaking in a solution of common salt.

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