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Development of the Daguerreotype
At a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris on August 19,1839, a new photographic process was unveiled by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre. His invention, dubbed the daguerreotype, enabled the photographer to create a highly detailed image, like this portrait of Abraham Lincoln made in 1846 or 1847. The process consisted of polishing a copper plate, using iodine to sensitize it, and developing it over mercury after exposing it to light in a camera. Daguerreotypes became so popular in the United States that by 1850, New York City boasted more than 70 daguerreotype studios of its own.

Photo: Library of Congress