Louis D​ucos du Hauron : his other inventions

In 1864, he filed a patent for « Cigarettes that could not be unrolled thanks to an additional dribble of gum » in cooperation with Alexandre Jaille, an Agen industrialist and Léon Rabain.

In 1867, LDH with his brother Alcide and the Agen pharmacist Jules Dheur whose pharmacy was under the Agen Cornières devised the printing process also known as « Woodburytype and phototype », that is handmade printing and reproduced by light. These were the first works on mass photomechanical reproduction that were close to the lithographic technique. In fact one of his fundamental research work for he kept in mind his project to make available to as many people as possible – especially through printing and the circulation of newspapers and books - the images of the world.

In 1869 he filed with Gontrand Dubernard de Lagrange du Tuco, the patent for « vane motor or horizontal windmill », a system similar to the waterwheel.

In 1877, Louis Ducos du Hauron filed a process « Proportions and special manufactured products for gelatin or similar substance prints and their superimposition ».

With this, he filed a patent entitled « Photography system based on the photographic properties of eosin with interposition of coloured backgrounds ».

In 1888, it was « Transformism in photography thanks to the power of two slots », prolonged in 1891 by the « Tube giving caricature in photography by means of two slots intersecting at a distance ». In other words, the anamorphosis process.


At the same time, he worked on anaglyph , a word meaning in relief. « A combination of two superimposed images », which can be summed up by the already existing stereoscopic process, which until then was limited to drawings.

Still in 1891, he filed a new patent about prints, photographs and stereoscopic paintings producing their effect in broad daylight without the help of the stereoscope. This is the foundation for future 3D. He described it more extensively in 1896, in the bulletin of the French Photographic Society, signing an article entitled "Phototypes for polychrome anaglyph » (page 473) which he named stereochromy.

After the presentation of his 1893 treatise entitled "L'Art des anaglyphes" before the Society of Science, letters and arts of Agen, Louis Ducos du Hauron declared with a lot of humour that he would give up the rights to his patent "if someone could print and publish an anaglyph image of the moon hanging in space». You must know that the challenge was taken up in January 1924, when Léon Grimpel published two anaglyph autochromes of the moon in the magazine « l'illustration » that proposed for that purpose 3D vision masks. One of the images showed a full moon that Grimpel had produced by juxtaposing two photographs of Charles Le Morvan . taken at Paris Observatory, one taken in January 1901 and the other one in February 1904 – This period of time was indeed indispensable to obtain a good image alignment.

Léon Gimpel
This little story gives us the opportunity to talk about an unjustly forgotten photographer.
Léon Grimpel was born on 13th May 1873 in Strasbourg and died on 7th October 1948 in Sévignacq-Meyracq. Well-informed amateur, he started as newspaper reporter, notably for "L'Illustration" and "La Vie illustrée". He then specialised in scientific popularization by way of images, working particularly on the birth of aeronautics, balloons and airships, air shows, but also the evolution of Paris lighting. Very keen on photographic technique, he also enjoyed photographic art producing when shooting or working in the laboratory strange, even spiritualist images, on the dividing line between realism and surrealism. The French Photographic Society possesses an outstanding collection of his pictures.

But let's go back to Louis Ducos du Hauron.


He carried on his research and filed a patent, number 247775 dated 20th May 1895 (some claim it was 20th June), describing a "camera with a curved mirror, providing by anamorphosis and without rotating mechanism an adequate panorama, realised either graphically or by projection".

A panoramic projection is obtained with the help of a spherical mirror placed in the centre of the panorama and on which a photographic view is projected. This view is positioned directly underneath, so that rays reflect all around this sphere and give a continuous image on the circular sides of the camera.

It is quite simply the basis of panoramic photographs and more widely of the future cinemascope.

An overflowing imagination.

He also proposed « Special pictures for printing by means of three inkings only and on all the printing presses, photography of the colours either typographically, or by transfer, and generally speaking by all heliographic engraving processes. »

Louis Ducos du Hauron and his nephew Raymond de Bercegol also invented at the same time a sort of periscope « A rod or tube allowing to photograph an object or a spectacle which is out of sight ». That is taking a photograph for example behind a crowd, above heads.


In 1905, Louis Ducos du Hauron and his nephew Raymond de Bercegol, who had conceived the SINNOX camera, proposed brothers Joseph and Zacharie Jougla de Mornas to turn out on an industrial scale photographic plates of colour shots according to the principles of trichromy. They were to be called Omnicolor plates. According to « The photography fact book » of 1908, Omnicolor plates of the Jougla company "are made of a regular pattern obtained mechanically and composed of microscopic rectangles coloured in blue, purple, green and orange-red exactly juxtaposed the ones to the others. This reseau (network) is first covered with a special transparent varnish and then with a panchromatic emulsion. They are exposed upside down and a film-based compensating screen, adapted to the sensitivity of the plates, will be cut out by the operator in leaves prepared by the Jougla company and placed either between the lenses, or fixed against the wooden plate supporting the lens. The same film-based compensating screen can be placed in the châssis before the plate. The operating process is about the same as the one used for the first development of autochrome plates; the inversion is achieved through a bath of bichromate of potash with addition of a strong acid and a slightly different process, as the second development is carried out with the emulsion side below and the light acting through the lined screen, by the back of the plate. Omnicolor plates are covered with an emulsion layer that is sufficient to allow to obtain without reinforcement a rich variety of colours; drying takes place as usual, besides these plates can be dried with alcohol.."

Raymond de Bercegol

The Jougla company set up in 1894 opened a factory at Joinville-Le-Pont in 1901 for the industrial production of 40,000 plates a day of paper and development products. By embarking thanks to Louis Ducos du Hauron and his nephew in the exploitation of their process, Jougla was the first company to produce colour plates in the world. One year later, in 1906, the first omnicolor plates were introduced.

As early as April 1909, Jougla marketed Omnicolor reseau-plates. But Jougla plates ceased to be sold when Jougla and Lumière merged in 1912 (to counter Kodak) under the name of "l'Union Photographique des Établissements Lumière et Jougla réunis" and then only offered autochrome plates for sale, which in fact displaced omnicolor.

Once more, Louis Ducos du Hauron found himself rejected by the industry.

When Joseph Jougla died in 1927 the company was named Lumière.

The structure of an Omnicolor plate used a trichrome reseau, composed of a geometric pattern. The process was rather complex. It was necessary to spread over a glass or celluloid plate or any plate made of another transparent matter, a first regular layer of colourless gelatin on which was deposited a waterproof varnish, the water being tainted in yellow or green Once it was dry, this varnish was submitted to an engraving machine to obtain a series of parallel paths exposing the first gelatin layer. The plate was then immersed in a bath of violet dye, then after the drying process the dyestuff was protected by spreading a new layer of colourless varnish. Then greasy transparent ink lines were drawn on the plate again intersecting at a right angle with the first ones. The plate was then submitted to the action of an orange dye and finally a trichrome reseau with very thin and very regular divisions was obtained and once protected by a waterproof varnish, it served as the support to a panchromatic emulsion.

The development stages of a reseau-plate were numerous enough. After exposition or shot, the negative was developed. Then a second development allowed obtaining a positive with remarkable colours. Then, as usual, came the fixing, varnishing stages and the possible doubling of the plate by a protection plate of the same size. Stages all photographers practised before the advent of digital cameras.