Full Cased 1/6th Plate Leather Pannotype
c. The late 1850s
In an attempt to remedy the situation, in 1853 the firm of Wülff & Co developed the pannotype process. The process involved transferring the image-bearing emulsion layer from a glass plate ambrotype image to a flexible substrate such as fabric or more rarely leather (such as this example) which had been previously blackened and waxed. While the process did indeed produce an unbreakable image it inadvertently left the transferred emulsion very prone to cracking, flaking, and other forms of deterioration.
In any event, the widespread introduction of the much more robust metal plate tintype (melainotype or ferrotype) around 1860 made the pannotype redundant and it quickly disappeared from the market.
The pannotype ceased being produced by around 1860. Due to the unintended fragility of the transferred emulsion and their relatively limited production, the pannotype is one of the rarest and most seldom encountered examples of early photographic processes. The overall relatively good - if wrinkled -
condition of this example and its military subject matter only increases its rarity.
Above: The leather pannotype image was removed from its case during condition assessment and conservation. This specific example is virtually free of the flaking and cracking that usually plagues examples of this photographic process. This may be in large part due to the fine-grained, high-quality
leather that was used as a base for the image. The only major defect was the wrinkling that occurred to the collodion as it dried and shrank on the leather substrate.
The image itself depicts what appears to be a color sergeant of a Canadian rifles militia battalion from the late 1850s. He wears the distinctively ornate color sergeants badges on both sleeves. Slightly later images of rifle battalion color sergeants show them wearing more traditional sergeants chevrons on one sleeve and a single color sergeant's badge on the other. This sergeant's uniform would have been of dark rifle green with red or scarlet piping. His sword was probably of the then-standard British NCO pattern.