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Albumen Silver Print

The most common nineteenth century photograph, the albumen silver print consists of a silver image within an egg-white-based coating on a sheet of paper. The image was printed in sunlight, usually from a glass plate negative, and then toned with a gold-containing solution to produce a dark, purple-black hue. An albumen print's surface is smooth and moderately glossy, and the image can show great detail. Because the prints were made on thin paper, they were usually mounted to paper board. When deteriorated, the albumen layer appears yellow, highlights can be faded, and the image tone can shift toward brown.

The Rapids, Below the Suspension Bridge

ca. 1870, albumen silver print

Charles Bierstadt

born Solingen, Germany 1819-died Niagara Falls, NY 1903