Faces in Tin - History of the Tintype

Amidst our shelves filled with unique housewares, french perfume, and garden must-haves, sit a collection of oddities from all eras of life. Some of our personal favorites lie in our collection of photographs. From head shots of the famous to war time keepsakes, each photo tells a special story of its very own. Tintypes are photographs made by creating a direct positive on a sheet of iron metal that is blackened by painting, lacquering or enameling and is used as a support for the photo emulsion. We carry a large variety of Tintypes at The Paris Market.
 Here are some of our favorites and the history behind what makes them so special.

The process of the Tintype was first described by Adolphe-Alexandre Martin of France in 1853, then patented in 1856 both in the United States by Hamilton Smith and William Kloen in the United Kingdom. Photographers usually worked outside at fairs and carnivals producing tintypes for passerby's. The Tintype is perfect for these side-show stands because it is resilient and does not need drying, and can be produced only a few minutes after the picture is taken. Tintypes did not need mounting in a case and were not as delicate as photographs that used glass for the support.

The tintype can be seen as a modification of the earlier Ambrotype, replacing the glass plate with a thin sheet of iron. The new materials reduced costs considerably and the  image has proven to be very durable. Like that of the Ambrotype, the tintype's image can be thought of as a negative, but, because of the black background it appears as a positive. Since the tintype is a camera-original positive, most tintype images appear reversed (left to right) from reality. Some cameras were fitted with mirrors or a 45-degree prism to laterally reverse the image.
Tintypes are simple and fast to prepare, compared to other early photographic techniques. A photographer could prepare, expose, develop, and varnish a tintype plate in a few minutes, quickly having it ready for a customer. Earlier tintypes were sometimes placed in cases, as were Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes. Uncased images in paper sleeves and for albums were popular from the beginning, especially during the Civil War, in which soldiers would carry with them Tintypes of loved ones.


For more Tintype photographs and other unique pieces of history, visit our shop! 
Who knows, you might find a long lost relative just waiting to be discovered.

1 comment:

Curtains in My Tree said...

I need to buy me some more old relatives LOL