Hillotype, print of birds

Description (Brief)
The Photographic History Collection at the National Museum of American History holds an extraordinary series of early color photographs: sixty-two color daguerreotype plates made by Rev. Levi L. Hill in the early 1850s in Westkill, Greene County, New York. This is the largest collection in the world of Heliochromy, a rare early color photographic process based on silver chloride.
Hill’s color process was extremely complex, consisting of coating a daguerreotype plate with multiple layers of a compound of different metals that reacted to the different colors in the spectrum.
The achievement of inventing a color photographic process in 1850 was even more remarkable considering that Hill was not trained as a scientist and lived in a very remote area of New York State. Yet Hill was indisputably an important figure in early history of American photography, an entrepreneur and an enthusiastic innovator. He wrote the first, and one of the best, manuals on daguerreotypy, "A Treatise on Daguerreotype" in 1850; and in 1856 he wrote the first manual on color photography, "Treatise on Heliochromy", which includes a description of his experiments and an overview of all the means of chemically producing pictures in natural colors with light.
Among the important works by Hill are many daguerreotype photographs of European color prints, and art reproductions such as this Hillotype of a illustration of four birds with the inscription “Ulm, Eisvogel.”
Object Name
photograph
Hillotype
Photograph
date made
1850-1860
maker
Hill, Levi
Physical Description
copper (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 6 1/2 in x 8 1/2 in; 16.51 cm x 21.59 cm
ID Number
PG*3999.12
catalog number
3999.12
accession number
125759
subject
Photography
Hillotypes
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Hillotypes
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.