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This material was called thermoplastic, as the mixture was heated and then formed in dies.

It exhibits the characteristics of a mirror at many angles.The image, case, or brass holder can be damaged easily.The different parts of the daguerreotype each provide date clues.They changed significantly about three different times, with lesser evolutions along the way. The earliest ones had a 'pebble-like' texture, and were usually octagon or oval up to about 1845.About this time the finish was a little nicer, having a 'sandy' texture. These included the nonpareil, acorn, elliptical, double elliptical, and some other variations.So it is important you understand the different pieces.

The daguerreotype was typically placed under a mat, which was covered with a piece of glass .

They are frequently broke or chipped as cases were brittle.

Note: These were used with daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes General Rule: Thermoplastic or Union case dates after 1856.

General Rule: The thinner mats and preservers date to late 1850s.

The preserver was first used around 1847, and it became a standard part of cased images.

The preserver is a brass frame that wraps the glass, mat, and image.