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Platinotype

(Fr.: platinotypie)

(1879-ca. 1940; 1970s-today) In the early days of photography, chemists were hard at work developing processes that produced a more permanent image than silver processes could provide. The platinum process produces an image of pure platinum a nearly indestructible metal, as opposed to silver which oxidises easily. The process was the result of William Willis' efforts, who used the light sensitivity of ferric oxalate to produce the precipitation of a platinum salt, which, in a finely divided form, gives a black image. Platinotype is therefore an IRON process, much like CYANOTYPE. Willis first patent goes back to 1873 but the first platinotype papers were commercialized in 1880.

Platinum printing, because of its high cost, was reserved for the highest class of professional work, including portraiture and salon work. When World War I made the process prohibitely expensive The Platinotype Co. introduced the PALLADIOTYPE process, which used a palladium compound with properties similar to the platinotype, except for somewhat warmer tones. The last manufacturer of platinum and palladium papers went out of business in England in 1941 as World War II made the price of rare metals too expensive.

Platinotype was revived by a handful of experimenters in the 1970s and today it is the most popular of the historical and permanent processes, practiced by thousands of fine-art photographers and widely taught in colleges, universities and workshop centers around the world. Part of the popularity of platinotype is attributed to our popular book, History and Practice of Platinum Processes (3rd. ed., 1994; also available in German). (Nadeau, Encyclopedia, p. xxx).




Platinotype © Luis Nadeau Platinotype © Luis Nadeau

Platinotype.

Platinum portrait (and catalytic transfer on the left) by Root Studio Co. Kimball Hall, Jackson & Wabash, Chicago. Image 190 x 140 mm. Platinum portrait (and catalytic transfer on the left) by Root Studio Co. Kimball Hall, Jackson & Wabash, Chicago. Image 190 x 140 mm.

Platinum portrait (and catalytic transfer on the left) by Root Studio Co. Kimball Hall, Jackson & Wabash, Chicago. Image 190 x 140 mm.