Andrew Dickson White Architectural Photographs Collection

New Mexico Building, 1915 Panama-California Exhibition
Harold A. Taylor, Interior, New Mexico Building, 1915 Panama-California Exhibition, ca. 1915. Gelatin silver print photograph. 15/5/3090.00139. Andrew Dickson White Architectural Photographs Collection, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
Historic Photographic Processes
The Gelatin Silver Print

In 1873, Peter Mawdsley invented the first photographic paper with a gelatin emulsion, and commercially-produced gelatin silver printing papers were available by 1885. Gelatin, an animal protein, is used as an emulsion, to bind light sensitive silver salts (usually silver bromides or silver chlorides) to a paper or other support. Unlike the albumen print, which is a printing-out process, the gelatin print is a developing-out process. After a brief exposure to a negative (under an enlarger), the print is immersed in chemicals to allow the image to develop, or emerge fully. Typically, the photographic materials in a gelatin silver print are extremely sensitive to light. Gelatin silver prints replaced albumen prints as the most popular photographic process by 1895 because they were much more stable, did not have a tendency to yellow, and were far easier to produce.

1885 to present (although most gelatin silver prints in the A. D. White Collection were produced between 1900 and 1930)

Primary Characteristics of Gelatin Silver Prints

• Silver print (photo-sensitive element is silver)
• 3-layer structure (support, gelatin binder and baryta layer)
• Glossy, matte, or textured surface
Silver mirroring common in dark areas and edges
• May be toned
• Fiber-based paper support or Plastic, resin-coated support
• Paper fibers invisible
• Can attain true black and white tones


The A. D. White Project is funded by a grant from the
Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
and by a gift from Mr. Patrick A. Gerschel.

The participation of the Cornell Insititute for Digital Collections
has been funded by a gift from Mr. Arthur Penn.

Read a press release about the grant
and the collection

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This page last updated July 1, 2002