The daguerreotype process is one of the earliest photographic processes, invented by the Frenchman Louis Daguerre and announced to the world in August 1839. A daguerreotype consists of a silvered copper plate, which bears the image, and a housing to protect the plate.
The image in a daguerreotype is in negative, but it can be viewed as a positive when the reflective surface reflects something dark. The details in a daguerreotype can be very clear and sharp. The image itself consists of higher or lower densities of microscopic silver and mercury particles.
For more information on what a daguerreotype looks like and how it is produced, which books to read, as well as articles about the inventor and the history of the process, please visit the online dossier The Daguerreotype: Permanent Gleam on the website of the Nederlands Fotomuseum, written by one of the administrators of the Daguerreobase: