In 1813 Fredrick Scott archer was born at Bishops Stortford. In he early days as a man, he was apprenticed to a silver smith in Leadenhall street, London and he also pursued being a sculptor.
In 1846 the famous Swiss chemist Schonbein discovered gun-cotton. Gun cotton was a mixture of ordinary cotton soaked in a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids. This combination was explosive and called gun-cotton. With the acids sightly diluted, a less dangerous compound was formed with similar properties known as soluble pyroxyline.
In 1847 an American investigator Maynard found that when soluble pyroxyline was dissolved in a mixture of ether and alcohol, that this can be poured over a glass plate leaving a coating behind once the alcohol evaporated. He called this film collodion. Its purpose was to form an airtight seal over objects and was used in surgery.
In 1847 Fredrick Scott Archer began to work on the colloidal process. It was reported that his early attempts at photography was to capture imagery of his sculpture. He conducted successful attempts of the Wet Collodion Process shortly there after.
By 1850 Archer's new process was so far advanced that he communicated it to his friends, like Dr. H.W. Diamond, Mr. P.W. Fry and others from whom he received assistance.
In March 1851 He published the details of the the Wet Collodion Process in the Chemist magazine.
In March 1852 He published the details of his newly invented Process in his own book entitled "Manual of the Collodion Photographic Process". Most likely, Archer did not realize the importance f his discovery, since he did not attempt to patent it and in turn did not make any profit from it.
By 1855 Archers wet collodion process displaced the Daguerreotype and calotype processes and reigned supreme.
In 1855, Archer having missed the opportunity to patent the process, then patented a process to remove the collodion film from glass by coating it with gutta-percha, an improvement that had little or no practical value.
In the years to follow, Archer worked as a professional photographer on great Russell Street, near the British museum. He was not very successful because he was mainly focused on new things to reap the benefit of that which he had already accomplished. Some of his inventions were a camera in which the plates could be exposed and developed inside the camera, a triplet lens, a useful method of whitening positives on glass by soaking them in mercury bichloride called the alabastrine process.
By approximately 1880, Archers wet colloidal process was over taken by the new emerging process from dry plates.
In May 1857, Fredrick Scott Archer died in London. He died a poor man and a subscription list was established to provide donations to his family. The subscription list raised £747. The british government provided pension of £50 per annum to the family with the statement "The discoverer of a scientific process of great value to the nation, from which the inventor had reaped little of no benefit".
Ref: 1887 The Photographic Times and American Photographer p.131
Return to Previous Page
Return to the History Librarium
Copyright © 2002 - 2019 Historic Camera