Which puts the birth of colour photography pretty close to the birth of photography itself. Hill was probably something of a flawed genius - part instinctive scientist part fraud. But it also seems there was a genuine basis to his experiments in early (very early) colour photography.
"One myth of early color photography holds that the Reverand Levi Hill of Westkill, New York, invented it as early as 1850. That seems too preposterous to take seriously, but art historian Joseph Boudreau looks more closely at Hill. When Hill announced his process, he was visited by a group from the New York Daguerrean Association. They told him to keep quiet or they’d wreck his lab. Daguerreotypes were becoming obsolete and they feared for their livelihood.
Hill bought a revolver and a mean guard dog, and he forged ahead. People like Samuel F. B. Morse inspected his work and declared it sound. In 1856, Hill published a rambling account of what he now called the Hillotype process. But he also used the book to attack the Daguerrean Association. They, in turn, got a court order requiring all copies of the book to be destroyed...
..Boudreau found a surviving copy of Hill’s book and set about to replicate the process. It was long and difficult, but it actually worked. He managed to produce some dingy, but distinct, color Daguerreotypes. Hill had actually succeeded — 80 years too soon."