Wratten, Frederick Charles Luther

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b. 1840 England
d. 8 April 1926 London, England
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English inventor and manufacturer, founder of one of the first successful gelatine dry-plate companies.
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He started his working life as a schoolteacher, but in his early twenties he moved to London to become a clerk with a photographic wholesaler, Soloman. There Wratten became interested in photography, and on the announcement of the new gelatine dry-plate processes he began to conduct his own experiments. In 1876 he devised a means of drying gelatine emulsions and removing excess silver with alcohol, and published details in 1877 and 1878. It was during this period that he formed a partnership with Henry Wainwright to manufacture and sell photographic materials. The mass production of gelatine dry plates was a British invention and monopoly, and the new firm of Wratten \& Wainwright was one of the first in the field and soon proved to be amongst the most successful. The business exported extensively to Europe, introducing a succession of plates of increasing sensitivity. Wratten continued to trade under the same name when his partner Wainwright died in 1882. His success continued, and in 1890 he moved the company to a newly equipped factory in Croydon, near London. Six years later Wratten incorporated as co-owners of the business his son, S.H.Wainwright and a young graduate from London University, C.E.Kenneth Mees. The newly constituted company soon introduced the first British panchromatic plates and filters. The introduction of Lumiere's Autochrome plates in 1907 prompted Wratten and Mees to take out a patent on a colour screen plate process of their own. The company also found work coating plates for other similar innovations. In 1912 the business was finally sold to George Eastman and Wratten and Mees joined Kodak Ltd at Harrow.
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Bibliography
Wratten's early work on the action of alcohol on gelatine emulsions was described in a series of articles: 1877, Photographic News : 390, 49.
1878, Photographic News : 121–3.
1878, British Journal of Photography : 124–5.
Further Reading
E.J.Wall, 1925, Three Colour Photography.
C.E.K.Mees, 1961, From Dry Plates to Ektachrome Film, New York.
JW

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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