Tintype Spirit Photograph in our collection

On the right is the only example in our collection of a "hard image" spirit photograph. It is a cased tintype of a man with a ghost child hovering over his shoulder.

Like its close relative, the ambrotype, the tintype is a collodion negative. Introduced in the 1850s, the collodion emulsion is coated on a thin sheet of iron, japanned dark brown or black. The milky collodion forms the highlights and the unexposed areas show the dark backing to provide the shadows. Since the material is not tin a more accurate but less used name is ferrotype.

Tintype and ambrotype spirit photographs are extremely rare and we are thrilled to have one in our collection. The image is mounted in a sixth plate case and is slightly under 2.75 X 3.25 inches. The photographer is not identified but we are following some clues from the source of the tintype and hope to identify the family of the subject.

tintype spirit man
tintype spirit child

tintype spirit photograph

On the left are enlarged images of the faces of the man and child. Examined under magnification the man's left eye (the image is reversed since the tintype is a unique positive) has been scratched into the surface. Perhaps this was an attempt at rough and ready retouching for an eye that did not record well. The face of the child is very soft focus but has a haunting, melancholy air.


*Note: In October, 2007 this section of our site was expanded and rearranged. If an image is not in an expected place, please try one of the other pages from the list below.

Spirit Photographs: How our collection started/Brewster & Mumler
Spirit Photographs: A Tintype Spirit Photograph *added 10/07 < You are Here
Spirit Photographs: Carte-de-visite spirit photographs
Spirit Photographs: Carte-de-visite of a spirit drawing *added 1/08
Spirit Photographs: Cabinet card spirit photographs
Spirit Photographs: Post card spirit photographs
Spirit Photographs: Post cards of unknown mediums
Spirit Photographs: Doyle and the Spirits *added 10/07
Spirit Photographs: How to make a fake spirit photograph
Spirit Photography: Bibliography & Links

Related interests of the Victorian Era and early 20th century in our collection:
Memento Mori - Remembering the departed: post mortem and memorial photography in the 19th and early 20th century
Mesmerism - "Flint the Mesmerist"
Phrenology - The study of human personality from the shape of the head

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Contact us at studio@brightbytes.com

**NOTE** All items on the Collection of Collections web site are in our private collection and are NOT for sale. From time to time duplicate items from our collection will be offered for sale in the Do You Remember This? shop on the GoAntiques cyber mall. Visit the Do You Remember This? inventory page for photographica and toaster related collectibles.

Please feel free to write us if you want to chat or share information about areas we collect but we will NOT give appraisals.

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Added on 10/2007