Collection of Early American Tintypes

A collection of 23 small tintype portrait photographs, dating from ca. 1860-1880 and housed in a blue cloth-covered box. The portraits depict adults and children, apparently of various social classes; most are individual portraits, with two photographs of pairs. Several are duplicates or close duplicates. 16 of the tintypes are mounted in identical small pink card frames. One larger tintype, a three-quarter-length portrait of a man, is unmounted. Also included is one small later photograph, clipped to size. Light wear and scratches, some foxing and creases to the mounts; overall in very good condition. Each tintype ca. 1 x 1.5 inches (2.5 x 3.5 cm); mounts 1.75 x 2.5 inches (4.2 x 6.6 cm); larger tintype 2.5 x 3.25 inches (6 x 8.5 cm). In a blue cloth-covered cosmetic box with snap closure, with the logo of cosmetic company Palmer and their product name Gardenglo stamped in gold inside the lid. Wear and partial tear to the flap closure; overall in good condition. 4.5 x 2.75 x 1.5 inches (11 x 7 x 4 cm).

Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the 1860's and 1870's, but lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century. Tintype portraits were at first usually made in a formal photographic studio, like daguerreotypes and other early types of photographs, but later they were most commonly made by photographers working in booths or the open air at fairs and carnivals, as well as by itinerant sidewalk photographers. Because the lacquered iron support (there is no actual tin used) was resilient and did not need drying, a tintype could be developed and fixed and handed to the customer only a few minutes after the picture had been taken. (13892)

Unsigned Photograph
History & Historiography
Art & Design