“The Family” – 1/2 plate Victorian Ambrotype

Picked this up at a local antique centre. They had lots of great furniture and ceramics, but the bit I like the best is the junk section, where they pile it all up and still ask a fortune for it.

I’d seen some 1/6th plate ambros in one of the display cases but they were way overpriced for my pocket, then this framed image caught my eye just outside the junk corner hanging high up on the wall.

I was unsure if it was a tintype or an ambrotype but I could tell it wasn’t a print. Only info about it was a sticky label by the seller titled ‘The Family”.

I’ll have that thank you very much. And as its turned out to be a half plate ambrotype I got myself yet another bargain.


The mat/mount is actually painted onto the glass, not seen that before, at first I just thought someone had popped in a modern white mount as it was that bright.

Then on seeing the reverse and that the original paper and nails were in place Steph could see it was actually painted.

Theres no trace of any text/inscription on the back which is shame.

The backing paper was pretty fragile and hanging off in places. We removed it to find the actual plate was still encased in its original backing and taped front including the gold recess. I wasn’t going to be taking it any further apart, so the main scanned mage isn’t as sharp as the actual plate

There were also quite a few dead bugs that look like common book lice.

The rear board was just a rough pine panel.

A grosgrain ribbon is still in place.

And its definately an ambrotype as you can see the velvet behind the clear sections of the image.

Really pleased I spotted this and even more pleased as its an ambrotype and I think quite an early one. A lovely family group portrait and pretty informal really. Steph seems to think they are related to John Sessions? There is a resemblance I suppose…. sort of.