Decidedly one of the institutions of our army is the traveling portrait gallery. A camp is hardly pitched before one of the omnipresent artists in collodion and amber bead varnish drives up his two-horse wagon, pitches his canvas gallery, and unpacks his chemicals. Our army here (Fredericksburg.) is now so large that quite a company of these gentlemen have gathered about us. The amount of business they find is remarkable. Their tents are thronged from morning to night, and "while the day lasteth" their golden harvest runs on. Here, for instance near Gen. Burnside's headquarters, are the combined establishments of two brothers from Pennsylvania, who rejoice in the wonderful name Bergstresser. They have followed the army for more than a year, and have taken, the lord only knows, how many thousand portraits. In one day since they came here they took in one of the galleries, so I am told, 160 odd pictures at $1 each. The style of portrait affected by these traveling army portrait makers is that know to the profession as the melainotype, which is made by the collodion process on a sheet-iron plate and afterward set with amber-bead varnish. 

Scientific American October 18, 1862

The Fort Blacksmiths taken at Ft Delaware, DE 2002
Half-Plate Ferrotype by RJ Szabo

To view other Collodion Images please visit The Gallery.


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