Fetlar Museum Digitisation Project

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Daguerrotype
Daguerrotype in a velvet-lined frame, showing a portrait of Mr. Williamson of Fetlar. It has an important story to tell in Fetlar's history.
Click here for a larger image (large download).
c. 1850
Frame: 15.3cm x 12.5cm; image: 12cm x 9cm
A daguerrotype is a photographic image using a process developed by Louis Daguerre in 1837. It was based on the exposure of a silver surface to iodine vapour, followed by the use of mercury vapour which produced a once-only image. The process was so dangerous to perform that many early photographers suffered an early death. The process did, however, leave us an extraordinary record of mid 19th century events such as the American Civil War. The Mr. Williamson in this particular image left Fetlar for the California Gold Rush, which began in 1849 (hence the term "forty-niners"), and returned to Fetlar with enough money to buy his land at Strand (Everland) from Sir Arthur Nicolson, to prevent his family being evicted during the Fetlar Clearances. To this day, that piece of land is owned outright and is not subject to the Brough Estate.

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