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234. The Democratisation of Jelly (Part of the history of photography)

  • Posted Aug. 22, 2010 by Jon Laysell Viewed 3429 times

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For most of human history jelly* has been a delicacy. Sometimes sweet, sometimes savoury, nearly always too time consuming and expensive for ordinary people. Then in the 1870s something happened to turn this on it's head. Something that made jelly an easily affordable treat for school kids everywhere. That something was photography.

In the 1870s, gelatin prints replaced albumen prints as the standard photographic process. Industrialists making vast amounts of gelatine for photographers realised that they could also produce gelatine for consumption. No longer did making a jelly involve days spent boiling up calves hooves. From then on jelly could be made very simply by dissolving some pre-made jelly cubes or crystals. Easy peasy and available to anyone for a few pennies. I wonder if digital photography might offer us some similar culinary advancements.

*NB - Jelly is one of those words that has transmuted to mean different things in different places. Just in case you hadn't guessed from the pictures, it is used here in its English sense to mean the wibbly-wobbly stuff, as opposed to the icky-sticky jammy stuff.

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    There are 10 comments, add yours!

    • # Lynda

      I heard a recent segue on Radio 4's food programme about jelly which was intriguing and covered the points you've made above. I'm curious to know how you created the jelly camera.

      2010.08.24 Edited Reply Cancel

    • # Gillian

      Your son is obviously doing some great work during his summer holidays! This is such fun - I hope he didn't ruin your camera using it as a mould.

      2010.08.24 Edited Reply Cancel