Leon Warnerke

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Leon Warnerke was a Polish engineer and inventor in the field of photography, independence activist and revolutionary. Leon Warnerke was a pseudonym; his real name was Władysław Małachowski.

Władysław Małachowski was born on 26 May 1837 to a Polish-Lithuanian szlachta family in manor Macie, Grodno Governorate, Lithuania, Russian Empire (today Belarus). He graduated from the Corps of Railroad Engineers in 1859. In 1863 he joined the January Uprising, and then entered the National Government in Vilnius. After the uprising chased by police, fled with his wife on board the English ship to the UK. He settled in London, under the name Leon Warnerke. He died 7 October 1900 in Geneva, Switzerland.

He made many inventions in the field of photography. Małachowski, first developed in 1875 the camera system, which acted like modern cameras. His system was based on the photosensitive layer of dry collodion imposed on the paper covered with a layer of gum arabic. After exposure, the layer of collodion was through a complex process, transferred to a glass substrate. This material is also suitable for printing positive. Photosensitive material in a roll was placed in a special cartridge which allows to perform up to 100 photos. The design of this camera was based on entirely new solutions that allow for the first time to perform such a large number of images on a single cartridge is loaded. Unfortunately, high production costs have prevented the proliferation of these films and their disposal. Małachowski in 1880 invented the first practical sensitometer, which allows measurement of the speed of photographic materials. He also discovered the phenomenon of tanning the exposed parts gelatin emulsion by pyro developer, which later found its application in Bromoil Process. Malachowski has developed the basic concepts of this photographic technique for which he was awarded the Progress Medal of the Photographic Society of Great Britain (known as Royal Photographic Society today) in 1882.[1]

Małachowski lived a double life, maintaining a career as a photographer and businessman. Nevertheless, Małachowski is thought to have been the head of a group of anarchists and ex-communards and to have engaged in massive and highly successful forgery of European banknotes, with an emphasis on Russian rubles. He was a master paper maker and managed to elude capture throughout his subversion activity. It has also been rumored that he faked his own death in 1900.


  1. ^ Royal Photographic Society. Progress medal. Web-page listing people, who have received this medal since 1878 ("Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2013-04-19. ): “Instituted in 1878, this medal is awarded in recognition of any invention, research, publication or other contribution which has resulted in an important advance in the scientific or technological development of photography or imaging in the widest sense. This award also carries with it an Honorary Fellowship of The Society. […] 1882 Leon Warnerke […]”