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
|Federals taken at McDowell, VA 2001|
Crop from a Half-Plate Negative by RJ Szabo
To view other Collodion Images please visit The Gallery.