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Daguerrotype: Early Photography in Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i State Archives

A daguerrotype was an early type of photograph popular during the 1840s-1870s. The ease and affordability of the process allowed the mainstream general public to readily obtain photographs. The photographic image was affixed to a highly polished silver-plated surface giving the daguerrotype a mirror-like reflective finish.

Daguerrotypes were usually encased in lockets or small hinged cases to protect the easily scratched surface. This also allowed daguerrotypes to be easily carried about in purse or pocket.

People could also have their daguerrotype customized by having the photographer hand-tint in colors certain articles of clothing or accessories they were photographed with such as jewelry, flowers or lei for a special look.