A few Tintypes/Ferrotypes from our collection

Like its close relative, the ambrotype, the tintype is a collodion negative on a thin sheet of iron that is 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.

Introduced in 1850s along with the ambrotype the tintype was cheap and easier to make. It is not as fragile as the ambrotype and was often mounted in paper folders instead of the miniature cases that were needed to protect the more fragile ambrotype.

Because they were cheap they often show a more casual and spontaneous quality. Humor and a sense of playfulness are not uncommon in the tintype. We have a much higher proportion of informal and outdoor tintypes in our collection than daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. They were made in great numbers from the 1850s through the early years of the 20th century long after the daguerreotype and ambrotype were historic relics.

On the right is one of our most treasured tintypes. Three young women pose in a studio with a large camera on a stand. The cryptic writing reads "The Three Damnid" or "Danmid" "Wilhemina Greek Slave & Damnid or Danmid". We assume the they were referring to the Danaïds, daughters of Danaüs in Greek mythology. "Greek Slave" seems to be a reference to Hiram Powers famous stature but these young ladies are certainly more completely dressed than she! Wilhemina has defeated us as an art history reference.

The half plate tintype below shows six men on the top of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. It seems likely that they are a group of civil war veterans who have returned to the site of the battle of Lookout Mountain. A number of photographers were known to photograph veterans visiting the site.

Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes often show painted studio backdrops. The backdrops in the tintype studio are often quite fanciful. Below a young man in a derby sits before a painted backdrop of the Statue of Liberty. This was most likely a souvenir of a visit to the Statue of Liberty.

The large tintype on the right shows a backyard tennis party of five men and four women. One of the women sitting on the grass under an umbrella strums a tennis racket held like a guitar. The casual framing and informal poses would label it a "snapshot" in any period.

In the row below are two tintypes that show very different approaches to style and costume. In the first image, below left, two young men stand before a studio backdrop wearing leather aprons and holding hammers. They are workmen of some kind, perhaps blacksmiths. While this kind of occupational image is seen in earlier processes we have found they are more common in tintypes.

Even though the tintype was often casual it was also sometimes very formal. In the second image, below right, a black woman poses for her picture in what must be her "Sunday best" dress, gold jewelry, and an extraordinary hat.One hand rests on a book and the other on the arm of a posing chair. Her earrings, ring, chains, and locket have all been retouched in gold.


Cased Images
Ferrotypes/Tintypes < You are Here

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**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.

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Updated on 11/2005