Technology tends to "snowball"—that is, it makes a creeping start, after which the equipment and execution becomes geometrically more sophisticated and easier to use, even by amateurs. Photography is no exception.
The first "camera obscura"—that is a box with a pinhole—is described in China in the Fourth Century BC. The invention of "film" (or light-sensitive material), used to record an image in this box, was still more than 2,000 years away. In these earlier days, the camera obscura was used to observe or project images (by artists, for example) or to safely observe solar eclipses (by astronomers).
Once light-sensitive materials were developed (first metal, then glass, then celluloid and paper), they were married to the camera and photographers began to capture images permanently. Reliable (and speedy) processes became available in the 1840's and grew increasingly popular over the next few decades. But, throughout the Nineteenth Century, photography remained a fairly rare luxury. In the 1800's, "average people" might have their photo taken two or three times during their lifetimes, perhaps at marriage and, later, as a family. Today, with the advent of cheap and easy digital photography (available on a smartphone), people might have their photo taken 2 or 3 times a day!
The little, oval brass frame, shown above, was made around the Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century. Click on the photo above to learn more about it.
Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well! Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (www.LEOdesignNYC.com).
We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (www.antiquecenterofstrabane.com).
Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only). 917-446-4248