U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: XIX century enlargers

Re: XIX century enlargers

On Tue, 19 Jun 2007 20:08:34 -0300, "Jacques Augustowski"
<py1hy@terra.com.br> said:
> Hi,
> Does anyone knows if albumen was used with the solar enlargers? What is
> the approximate date that these enlargers were used?
> Thanks,
> Jacques

A quick reply (not much time these days!) but here's my suggestion.

A paper titled "Photographic Enlarging: A History" by Eugene Ostroff of
Smithsonian Institution was published in Photographic Science and
Engineering 28: 54-89 (1984). This is an excellent resource for anyone
interested in the history of photographic technology. It also has many
beautiful illustrations depicting how things were done in old days.

The following is OCR text from my personal digital library, so beware of
some machine conversion errors. Randomly appearing numbers are the
references/notes. Any decent library should have this journal in
collection... (actually this is the test I use to determine a library
good or bad so that much is kinda obvious...)


This paper provides a survey of the early history of photographic 
enlarging. It includes: (1) precursor devices; camera obscura, magic 
lantern, projecting solar telescope, solar and lucernal microscopes, 
(2) photographic enlarging systems; those designed for photomicro- 
graphy, those which used cameras to copy photographs onto larger 
sensitized surfaces, special1y designed equipment to enlarge trans- 
parent negatives, and cameras which made large negatives when 
photographing the original subject, (3) ilIuminants; both sunlight and 
artificial (carbon arc,limelight, kerosene, gas, magnesium, acetylene 
and electric lamps), (4) optics, (5) exposure problems, (6) sensitized 
materials, printing.out and developing-out types. 


For a long period thereafter, until transparent negativ!.'~ 
were introduced (albumen glass plate, 1847, and wet collodil" 
glass plate, 1851), enlarger design basically followed tlw 
Herschel arrangement-camera-like apparatus which pho- 
tographed one image, in an enlarged version, onto a sensitized 
material. Alternate approaches were limited by the opaque 
or translucent characteristics of the early image supports, i.e., 
daguerreotypes, photogenic drawings, and calotypes. The 
inherent problems of paper negatives-the light-impeding, 
fibrous characteristics of the paper support and the extremely 
slow response of early sensitized enlarging materials made it 
impossible to consider direct-projection enlargement of the~e 
images by transmitted light. 


"Make up your mind, if you wish a good picture, to be now 
a prisoner for two or three hours," declared John Stuart of 
Glasgow in December 1862, when he talked about his en- 
larging exposures. He installed a Woodward Solar Camera 
vertically in a small structure located in his garden where it 
was free of shadows from other buildings or trees. Exposures 
from 21/4H X 3lJ4" negatives on his 14" X 17" albumen paper 
required two to three hours and he used a hand-adjusted 
mirror to track the sun. Stuart displayed four enlargements 
at the December 6, 1862, meeting of the Glasgow Photographic 
Association; prints which represented his entire production 
for a full workday.1I0 


The work done by the Moore solar printing establishment 
captured the attention of Dr. H. W. Vogel, who in September 
1870 observed that "we have nothing like these in Europe." 
Moore used a battery of eighteen solar enlargers clustered on 
his roof to take advantage of an unobstructed view of the sun. 
Vogel stated "on a clear day, you will see these curious looking 
instruments, marshalled in formidable array on the roof, with 
their one great eye pointed toward the sun, silently but surely 
doing their work. It is a curious sight from the street ... 
especially when the attendants are busy adjusting the great 
monsters. The looker ... maddens himself guessing what those 
fellows are about." Moore used Lie&#769;bert solar enlargers and 
charged only two-and-a-half dollars for a large·sized en- 
largement.I23 His albumen papers came from two sources, a 
local manufacturer and one in Dresden; these papers, sensi- 
tized and dried in his own darkrooms, required exposures of 
about forty-five minutes. He adopted a mass-production ap- 
proach of using one person to operate eighteen enlargers.124 
Dr. Vogel reported that "The American photographer simply 
mails his photograph with a ten-cent stamp to a photo-finisher 
... and for $2.50 he receives a life-size picture, more beautiful 
than we can make it in Europe-a picture so full of effect that 
we would willingly pay double the amount if we only could get 

Ryuji Suzuki