Very large antique photography retouching desk or easel. 19th C.


Very large antique photography retouching desk or easel. 19th C. Vintage and decorative

Light wooden retouching desk with the original opal mirror. This stand was used in the 19th century for retouching glass negatives.

To do this, the glass plate was held in place on the frosted glass panel of the retouching desk. Light from a lamp placed behind the desk was reflected by the mirror to the back of the negative. The cover with two black panels was used to cover the head of the retoucher and to prevent extraneous light coming to the negative.

Retouching in the nineteenth and early twentieth century was widespread and laid the groundwork for future generations of photographers and more recently, Photoshop manipulators. Much of the same terminology is still used today if not the actual physical techniques, such as burning and dodging. But before the introduction of digital photography, all of this work was done by hand. Negatives were placed in a special retouching desk near a window, with sunlight reflected from below by an adjustable mirror. It was essentially the nineteenth-century version of a light table.

Size (Closed)
Height: 5cm
Width: 36cm
Depth: 47cm

For glass plates up to 32 x 29cm

Minor traces of use.
Original wood colour.

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  • photographic process: Retouching desk
  • Vintage photo made by: Photographica

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