Sphereotype of a Lovely Gentleman & Woman

Discussion in 'Ephemera and Photographs' started by ScanticAntiques, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. ScanticAntiques

    ScanticAntiques Well-Known Member

    Last one for the night! :)

    Bought this today while I was out and about.

    I had honestly never heard of a Sphereotype before,

    "sphereotypes is a process patented (US patent #14,696 I believe) by Albert Bisbee in 1856. It was essentially a positive collodion image on glass that was exposed through a spherical mask – hence the name sphereotype – which was the same size as the mount that was to enclose it or case it was to be put into"

    Anyway, lovely picture.

    Photograph is by C. L. Howe (who was pretty notable)

    Read a few articles on the fellow. jkjklj.jpg jghjg.jpg

    I know it's a long shot but figured, maybe he's a notable person.

    Anyone recognize this fellow!

    Warm Regards,
    Scantic Antiques
    KingofThings likes this.
  2. 42Skeezix

    42Skeezix Moderator Moderator

    Is that "Sphereotype" embossed in the corners? I've never heard of the process either though I'm no photophile. The image is very sharp ('ceptin' her hand which must have moved a wee bit during the exposure.) A result of the process? Is that just a touch of hand tinting on the cheeks? I would think that helps the collectable value.
  3. ScanticAntiques

    ScanticAntiques Well-Known Member


    Yes, on the bottom left it is embossed "Sphereotype", the bottom right has a pat day of May 1856, and in the top right corner "C L Howe" is embossed. Cheeks on both subjects are tinted. I've been having trouble finding any that have sold. No idea on value lol
  4. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

    It's a very fresh image and the sitters certainly look well-heeled. I expect it would have value just because of the arcane process, which I am having trouble visualizing.
  5. ScanticAntiques

    ScanticAntiques Well-Known Member

    It's pretty interesting looking. Heavy. Seems like the image is between glass as if you look at it from the base, you can "see under the image"
  6. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

  7. ScanticAntiques

    ScanticAntiques Well-Known Member

    Thanks Fig! That's a way better definition of the process than I had found! :)

    I've attached an angled pictured, to get an idea of it's look. IMG_5521.JPG
  8. terry5732

    terry5732 Well-Known Member

    So, there is nothing different about the image, just that it is pre-cropped to the case opening. The photographer saves $0.000034 in chemicals.
  9. Messilane

    Messilane Well-Known Member

    Somewhere, some place, I have (or had) a bunch of vintage/antique photo masks.
    All different sizes and shapes.

    It's interesting to see something that they were used for.
    ScanticAntiques likes this.
  10. ScanticAntiques

    ScanticAntiques Well-Known Member

    Has anyone had any luck finding others? I'm having trouble finding any of them, be it for sale or even images of them. Maybe I'm searching wrong?
  11. ScanticAntiques

    ScanticAntiques Well-Known Member

    Note: I also read in an article (1860's Newspaper) that at some point a Sphereotype was taken of Mr. Lincoln. Who ever has that gem is a lucky SOB.

    Weirdly enough, in that same article, it explained that recent Photographs of the President made him look scary, kids were frightened of the image. Republicans felt as though the photo was detrimental to his campaign.

    Link to Article:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=U...EwCA#v=onepage&q=Sphereotype for sale&f=false
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
  12. Messilane

    Messilane Well-Known Member

    ScanticAntiques likes this.
  13. ScanticAntiques

    ScanticAntiques Well-Known Member

    Thank you!

    I had seen the Ebay one, but ours doesn't have that silver reflectiveness and that made me think it was mislabeled. Ours doesn't have any sort of metal type tone in the background.

    Thank you so much for the link! Looks like the Getty Museum has one there!

    It's odd, with it being mentioned so much, not many seem to be around. I feel sorta blessed with the fact that ours was marked with a pat. date and the photographers name / type of photo. I surely would not have known it was! haha

    Last couple questions for folks,

    I've attached the outside photo of the case:

    Are those doves?

    Last but not least,

    Is this brooch on her neck of a sailor?
    IMG_5517.JPG IMG_5568.JPG

    Thank you all again for the wonderful help!
    I really appreciate it!
  14. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    Probably doves, a willow, and a basket of flowers.

    I don't know if you've posted this in any of the Facebook photo groups yet. (I have seen you there as a poster.) You might want to ask in the Victorian Images group. That is one of the most active ones, with lots of knowledgeable people.

    Because this is similar to the ambrotype process, that may explain some of the reason you don't find many of these listed. Ambros were really only produced for about 10 years, after which photos on paper became more popular. And tintypes were more durable and also became popular. And it sounds like perhaps the sphereotype did not really catch on with a lot of photographers.

    ScanticAntiques likes this.
  15. terry5732

    terry5732 Well-Known Member

    Most people wouldn't know they had one unless they removed it from the case. And even then, most wouldn't know the significance (or insignificance) of the oval image.
    Figtree3 and Messilane like this.
  16. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

    Fig's link seems to discuss 2 different techniques. The fist involves taking a tintype and shaping it over a round surface (such as a paperweight) so that it becomes physically domed and then mounting the result under domed glass. I have seen paper prints that were domed and mounted under domed glass, but not tintypes.

    The second technique, using a print on glass, involves (as I'm reading it) a mask when taking the picture and 2 custom mats when mounting it. A mat is used in front of the picture and another behind it. Because the image is on glass, it will have varying degrees of transparency. By using a light-colored ground (e.g. white paper) and then separating the print from the ground through the use of that back mat, the image would appear to float and have a sense of depth. I still don't see the point of the mask in taking the picture unless being aware of the outer limit of the image helps to give the impression of it floating.
    ScanticAntiques likes this.
  17. ScanticAntiques

    ScanticAntiques Well-Known Member

    Yes, it does def look as though it is floating. It's almost 3D which I found neat. I've owned ambrotypes, and it doesn't resemble them to me. Looks totally different (in my opinion) side by side, weight feels different etc. The Sphereotype is heavy. I noticed it while looking through cases at the antique store and it didn't look like any other type of photos around it.
  18. ScanticAntiques

    ScanticAntiques Well-Known Member

    I will 100% ask the group! :)

    I really enjoy the Victorian Images group. Some wonderful images!
    I mostly post items on there that are keepers (going into my own album) but will occasionally put one that we are going to sell!

    I'll def. put it up there because you are correct! They do know their stuff!

    Any input on the brooch? Does it look like a sailor? Seems to have a scarf type around the neck.

    Thank you again for all the help!
  19. terry5732

    terry5732 Well-Known Member

    You misread the page
  20. moreotherstuff

    moreotherstuff Izorizent

    Well... the sphereotype specifically refers to "a positive collodion picture, taken upon glass". The paragraph before that talks about using pressure to shape a plate over a curved surface. I did leap to the silly conclusion that that would not be a glass plate, but perhaps you know better. The purpose of both techniques (and I am reading them as 2 differing techniques) is to give each picture a "spherical" appearance.
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