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Fake Daugerreotypes

Real Daugerreotypes are made with mercury vapor and silver plated copper plates; a poisonous and expensive process. These fake daugerreotypes are definitely fake; also easy. Simply place a high contrast positive on some smooth foil or silver paper, and put them into an old ornate cardboard photo frame, for some vague semblance of verisimilitude.

You can also make your own carboard frames, or buy multicolored ones at a frame shop or crafts store. Draw or paint or glue beads or shells or whatever to make an ornate frame. Use colored papers and foils to make an attractive mat for the picture. Use little bits of tape in the back corners to position things before putting them in the frame, or, if desired, paste or glue things together more securely with any glue made for paper (such as library paste, Uhu or Pritt stick glue, Elmer's glue, etc.), or use those little gummed paper corner picture fasteners, or make little paper tabs or slots to postion things in the frame.

The example on the left was made with silver cardboard for the image background, which scanned in looking rather bumpy and blue. The one on the right has a piece of silver origami paper behind the positive. The left-hand picture has a computer version of gold foil around the image for a mat. The image backgrounds for both look much shinier and metallic in real life.

You can get similar results by photocopying or making a computer printout of an image on clear plastic, the kind used for transparencies or overheads or viewgraphs, and then putting the plastic over tinfoil or silver paper in a fancy frame.

Apparently, fake daugerreotypes are quite appealing. Some chucklehead stole one of mine from a display at a school where I was teaching people how to make such things. I'd much rather they just told me they liked it....       or if they see this, bring it back.

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last update May 15, 1999