Dover Publications has published a special version of the history of photography under the title, Great Photographs from Daguerre to the Great Depression. What’s special is that, with no written text, it presents 139 Royalty-Free Designs in a CD-ROM & Book as part of its large series, “Dover Electronic Clip Art for Macintosh® and Windows®.”
Much is included; more is left out. Oddly, there is nothing from Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, Daguerre’s early collaborator, who made the first existing photograph that we are sure of in 1826. It’s in the Gernsheim Collection at the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. It is not a daguerreotype, but used a much slower process invented by Niépce, who died before Daguerre invented his own entirely different method.
Written histories tell of three men, each of whom invented his own form of black-and-white photography. They all announced their methods in 1839: Hippolyte Bayard and Louis -Jacques -Mandé Daguerre, both in Paris, and William Henry Fox Talbot in England. Bayard made and exhibited direct positive pictures on paper; Talbot, using some of the same chemicals, made paper negatives that could be used to make any number of positive prints; and Daguerre made direct positives on silver-plated copper plates that were developed in mercury vapor. Talbot’s negative-positive method was the direct ancestor of our negatives and prints, but because his negatives were on paper, his prints didn’t have the amazingly fine detail and texture that was rendered by the daguerreotype.