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This is one of the earliest known photographs of a human. A self portrait taken in 1839, it shows a young Robert Cornelius (1809-1893) standing outside his family’s lamp-making shop in Philadelphia. Cornelius was an American of Dutch descent whose knowledge of metallurgical chemistry was to help in perfecting the process of silver-plating, then employed in the production of daguerreotypes. It had previously been assumed that the time necessary for a photograph to be exposed was simply t...

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