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Might anyone have any details of a process introduced 1861 by Squire & Co for colouring a paper photograph to resemble a painting on ivory. It is was announced in Photographic News, vol . 5, no . 171, 13 December 1861, i

It was marketed as  the elephantinon process  and was evidently for making paper photographs look like paintings on ivory but with libraries shut I cant find the PN to consult.

The term is the ancient Greek name for a black dye made from burnt ivory  but may refer  in photography to a soft ivory-glow look rather than actual black?

An example would be great to find..


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Comment by Richard Sullivan HonFRPS on April 20, 2020 at 16:52

It appears to be a process called in general:  Ivorytype, commercial versions were: holotype,
Sennotype, Ivorytype, Typolite. They were known for turning yellow and eventually fading. They were not put on real ivory but celluloid which was whitened collodion.

I found a few hits in my database on Elephantinon and not Elephantonin. There are two spellings in the post, and not a too clever naming, in fact. They needed to name their product so people could say and spell it!

Contemporary writings about ivorytype are that it is a lucious luminous process. If it tends to age and and darken, that does not bid well for finding a survivor in good shape.

I can dig up a couple of how-to descriptions if you are interested.

I found an ad for it and it does appear from the description in the ad to be an ivorytype process.


Comment by Michael Hocken on April 20, 2020 at 8:40

Whilst you’re about it, Michael, can you tell us what “photograpes” are when they’re about? i’m presuming (always dangerous) that this is just a typo, but one never knows. CBDD277A-0CF7-4A42-B66D-C467B350CE30.jpeg

Comment by Michael Pritchard on April 19, 2020 at 21:22

Hi, Rob. Sadly not. there are some scanned volumes around and odd volumes in private collections... mostly without ads. 

Comment by Rob Whalley on April 19, 2020 at 19:54

Hi Michael, Are the BJP with ads in the public domain? If so, do you have a link? Thanks

Comment by Michael Pritchard on April 19, 2020 at 11:15

Hi Gael.  Some success. I found a set of BJP with ads in and there is a Squire ad which first appears on 2 September 1861, p. XIV and runs for some months. There doesn't appear to be any mention in the editorial page. The 'Lock' may be the London studio Lock and Whitfield.

I also checked the photography patents and nothing under Squire or Howard for the period. It may be in a different class.

Comment by Gael Newton on April 19, 2020 at 8:52

What fun. Yes the advertising page is missing but there is an earlier mention

August 30,1861.

Talk in the Studio
The “Elephantinon” Process.—This is the name given—for what earthly reason we cannot conceive—to a very effective method of colouring, or rather of treating coloured photographs, whereby they are made more nearly to resemble ivory miniatures than anything else we have seen.The photograph, tinted in watercolours, undergoes the process, and at once ac-quires the softness, delicacy, and transparency of ivory. The process is, we understand, the subject of a patent, and, as may be ascertained from an advertisement in another page, is taught and practised by Madame Una Howard.  She was  specialist photo colourist from 1859, trained by Lock ( ?) worked with Henry Squire who seems to be the patentee and from in 18760s  ran an institute teaching gentlewomen colouring processes to help earn a living, died 1870. I have never had to look up a patent but will try to locate. The process is akin to layered varnish colouring of ivory painting nothing to do with ivory balck pigment that I can see.

Comment by Rob Whalley on April 15, 2020 at 16:29

Hi Gael,

The Internet Archive now has copies of the Getty's PN collection, volume 5 can be found here:

That week's issue is there, however, as Michael said, there are no advertising pages.

. Hope this helps.

Comment by Michael Pritchard on April 15, 2020 at 9:08

Hi, Gael. Can I double check the page reference as the i would indicate it was part of the advertising pages rather than editorial? As you know most advertising pages were discarded when bound... 

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