Dating old tintypes

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  • Post navigation
  • Family Tree
  • Identifying Photograph Types
  • 19th Century Photo Types: A Breakdown to Help You Date Old Family Pictures
  • How to Date Your Old Photos
  • Dating and Identifying Your Old Family Photographs
  • How to spot a ferrotype, also known as a tintype (1855–1940s)
  • Dating old tintypes

The tintype photograph saw more uses and captured a wider variety of settings and subjects than any other photographic type. It was introduced while the daguerreotype was still popular, though its primary competition would have been the ambrotype. The tintype saw the Civil War come and go, documenting the individual soldier and horrific battle scenes. It captured scenes from the Wild West, as it was easy to produce by itinerate photographers working out of covered wagons.

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It’s best to search for ancestors by entering one term in the search box below such as surname, a city or town, a county, a state, a country or a keyword such as England, Civil War, CDV, Minnesota, Pennsylvania etc. Pearce’s Algonquin Bon Ton Tent. Collection of author. A wonderful early advertising piece for the traveling photographer tent of W. Cheney tintype photo below.

This appears to have been written in the ‘s, probably by a daughter or son, or other family member of Mary’s. For us, it was a happy occurrence to find a tintype so clearly and steadfastly marked! Tintype Origins: The advent of the tintype photograph in the ‘s brought photography to the working classes. Professor Hamilton Smith of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio Knox County worked with Peter Neff on experimenting with photographs on iron plates, using the principles of the daguerreotype.

The first patent was in When introduced, the original name was “Melainotype. It is thought the name “tintype” derived from them being so cheaply produced in comparison to the daguerreotype, which required a more expensive mirror polished silver to create. The iron plate of a tintype was individually cut by the photographer with tin scissors or tin shears, which also may have influenced its name with reference to tin. Anthony photography house in New York City first selling Neff’s melainotype plates.

Griswold called his process “ferrotypes”. These two competitors came into being at the same time, and although there was no patent on the making of the plates, there was on the coating. Griswold’s “ferrotype” generally has a thinner plate. Note of Interest: Early on, tintypes were cased in the same decorative cases as their predecessor, the ambrotype and daguerreotype. The only difference with the tintype is that they rarely have a piece of glass covering them for protection as the ambro and dag typically do.

Generally, the case housing the tintype cost more than the actual image! It is sometimes difficult to discern a tintype from ambrotype when both are found in cases, and if you are unable to remove them for a closer look. They both are dark in appearance and hard to delineate from each other. A good rule is that an ambrotype is generally thicker in the case, as it is made of glass and cased in glass.

The daguerreotype photograph is the only antique photo that exhibits a mirror image, a good rule of thumb to remember when attempting to learn about these early images. Basic Tintypes: These tough little iron photos were very rugged, and could easily be sent thru US Mail. Many itinerant traveling street photographers documented Civil War Soldiers in uniform to proudly send home.

They served as quick portraits of American families to send on with their “boys” to war and vice versa. There were illustrious railroad car, horse drawn wagon and riverboat tintype gallery studios which traveled the American countryside. In addition, photos were taken at local town and city studios. Please see our wonderful advertising image of the W. Pearce’s traveling Algonquin “Bon Ton” Tent above for an example. American tintypes cost less than a penny to produce, and became big business.

The photographer would mark or date it, this “cancelling” it in some fashion. The Wartime Retail Tax Act, which ran from Sept , is a wonderful tool for dating old photographs. Congress passed this law to help fund the Union War effort, and wisely chose the new rage of photography to do so. With so many young soldiers away from sweethearts, family and home for the first time, photography was a means of connection on both ends.

The new CDV and tintype photos were easily carried in bibles, breast pockets and card cases without breakage, which was so evident in the previous ambrotype and daguerreotype images which were encased in glass. Tax duties were collected on images in the US from Starting around mid-war in , the Wing Multiplying camera was invented, and became the most popular camera used by photographers of the day. It allowed for multiple identical images to appear on one plate. With the ability to now sell several copies of one image, the process quickly became a lesson in mass production.

Tintypes were quick to produce, so that a customer would receive their photograph immediately. The photographer would prepare, shoot the image, quickly develop it, tint the cheeks, cover it with varnish, and hand to the waiting customer. This was done quickly, easily and cheaply. Cheney in Paper Sleeve. This photo was taken at the traveling photographer tent above: Gem Tintypes: They were cheaper than a CDV photo, and often mounted on a CDV size thin cardboard decorative backing, held in a small brass mat with a decorative prong setting.

Gems were in use as political material for the election of Abraham Lincoln. They were created by the use of a multiple lens camera which could produce many exposures on a single plate. Because of its small postage stamp size, gems lended themselves for use in photo jewelery such as pins, broaches, lockets and Victorian hair jewelry. Hand tinting of the small gems was in vogue, usually seen in a pink blush tint to lips or cheeks.

A “gem album” is a photo album filled with gem tintypes, and is a beautiful invention. Gem portraits, being so small in nature, are unfortunately rarely identified. In “chocolate” plates were made by the Phoenix Plate Co. They have a yummier “chocolaty” brown surface. The “rustic” look came into vogue at that time also, with fake fences, posts, bear rugs, stuffed animals, adirondack furniture, pretend stones and the use of novelty props for the first time. This led into to the “Coney Island” era starting around ‘s, with amusement park tintypes being produced into the ‘s.

These generally put the sitter into a novelty setting. Some photo studio props we’ve seen examples of are: These were fast, cheap, fun and easily produced for the vacationing masses, who greatly needed a day off. This was the advent of leisure time in America. Many of these are also unidentified. American Tintype Sizes in Inches Note: They give us an invaluable look at family names, customs, naming patterns, nicknames, and genealogy.

Each offers an important clue as to surname, and lost family ties we hope to reconnect. Overall, we see each tintype photo on our site as a beautiful, one of a kind piece of history, and with the added benefit of a family surname attached! The ancestor spirits in these photos lay in graves across America, and await being found by their 21st century families and historian friends. Search our site for your lost family antique material by family surname, county, town, city and state.

Posted by Debra Clifford on Nov 30, Cart 0. Search ‘s W. A n Article on Tintype Photographs by Debra Clifford, Ancestorville The tintype, also known as “melainotype” or “ferrotype”, was a real workhorse in early photography. The least expensive in their day, and the most common of all antique photographs to be found at flea markets and antique shops, tintypes are rarely identified with family names.

The slick surface, of dark black or “chocolate” colored varnished iron, does not lend itself to handwriting with dip pen ink nor pencil, the prevalent writing tools of the time. The majority of tintypes are found “loose”, with most having been removed from antique family albums over the years. As time progressed, ingenious inventions such as paper mats as seen below became available, offering a more inviting format to autograph one’s signature on the back.

If the tintype is encased in a paper sleeve, identification is more likely to have occurred, although often these sleeves are tattered and worn. Many sleeves are a thin, soft newsprint material that does not hold up well over time. In the early ‘s, a patented tintype sleeve of harder cardstock arrived. One prevalent example is stamped “Potter’s Patent Paper Holders”. Made of a white paper, and often embossed with stars and patriotic emblems of the Civil War, it was less fragile than newsprint, and held the tin type in place more securely.

The “Cartouche” is a paper mat or sleeve with a decorative oval hole setting, cut for the image. When inserted in a cartouche, the tintype became the same size and format as the CDV Carte de Visite photograph calling card photograph , thus allowing for display in the Victorian family photo album, alongside other same size CDV photos.

Two young men stare out at me from a small old photograph. This photo of the King brothers is a tintype probably taken circa Both websites detail the history of photography, including samples of various types of photography, such as daguerreotype, cabinet card and tintype. DATING THE TINTYPESIntroduction – The earliest tintypes were on heavy metal ( inches thick) that was never again used. They are stamped.

In this article, Mary Harrell-Sesniak shows how you can date old, undated family photos by first figuring out what type of photograph they are, and uses old newspapers and other sources to illustrate different types of photos. Mary is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. Do you have a box of old, undated family photos somewhere up in the attic—or maybe buried in the back of some closet? Have you wondered how you were ever going to figure out who these family members might be, since the old photographs lack inscriptions or dates? Genealogy is a lot like detective work, gathering clues to make the pieces of your family puzzle fit together.

The first post explored the identity of a blue-eyed blonde girl in a painted tintype. Last week, we looked at a pair of crayon portraits.

Numerous types of photographs appeared and then went out of favor throughout th s. So, the first step in narrowing the possible date for your old photograph is to be able to identify 19th century photographs to determine what type you have. The information provided here can turn you into a proficient photo detective.

Identifying Photograph Types

It’s best to search for ancestors by entering one term in the search box below such as surname, a city or town, a county, a state, a country or a keyword such as England, Civil War, CDV, Minnesota, Pennsylvania etc. Pearce’s Algonquin Bon Ton Tent. Collection of author. A wonderful early advertising piece for the traveling photographer tent of W. Cheney tintype photo below. This appears to have been written in the ‘s, probably by a daughter or son, or other family member of Mary’s.

19th Century Photo Types: A Breakdown to Help You Date Old Family Pictures

A tintype , also known as a melainotype or ferrotype , is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion. Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the s and s, but lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century and it has been revived as a novelty and fine art form in the 21st. 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. The tintype photograph saw more uses and captured a wider variety of settings and subjects than any other photographic type. It was introduced while the daguerreotype was still popular, though its primary competition would have been the ambrotype. The tintype saw the Civil War come and go, documenting the individual soldier and horrific battle scenes. It captured scenes from the Wild West, as it was easy to produce by itinerant photographers working out of covered wagons.

Have you ever tried to figure out when an old family photo was taken? It can be a maddening process!

Next up: They were still being made by while-you-wait street photographers as late as the s. The ferrotype process was a variation of the collodion positive, and used a similar process to wet plate photography. A very underexposed negative image was produced on a thin iron plate.

How to Date Your Old Photos

This article needs additional citations for verification. In or so, I got a stack of tintypes one appears above, to the left from an aunt, who had gotten them from my grandmother 20 years earlier. From what I knew about the branch of the family, the most likely choices were Lowell, Massachusetts or Manchester, England. Are the individuals family members? Revenue stamps” were placed on the back of tintypes and CDV’s produced during the Civil War to finance the war cause. Enter a photo type into its search engine and you will see many examples that may turn out to be similar to the photograph you are researching. American tintypes cost less than a penny to produce, and became big business. Javascript must be enabled to use this site. The majority of tintypes are found “loose”, with most dating old tintypes having been removed from antique family albums over the years. The changes were more subtle, though, and were just not as familiar with the fashions of former centuries as we are with the 20th and 21st please make skinny jeans especially on guys disappear!

Dating and Identifying Your Old Family Photographs

The photographs are all sizes. Some are obviously older photographs. Who are the individuals in the photographs? Are the individuals family members? Most likely, but if not, the photograph was obviously treasured to have been kept throughout the years. Who owned the photograph s before you? How did the photograph s come into your possession?

How to spot a ferrotype, also known as a tintype (1855–1940s)

The daguerreotype was created by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre and is known by photography experts as the first practical form of photography. Daguerreotypes were produced on a thin copper metal support that had a polished coating of silver that was mirror-like. In America, daguerreotypes were often placed in hinged, wooden cases with paper or leather coverings. Wikimedia Commons. In , William Henry Fox Talbot patented the process of salt printing — the first photographic process that used sodium chloride to make photos more light-sensitive.

Dating old tintypes

I found this article on the Internet and thought that some of you who appreciate and maybe even have a few old photographs laying around in cardboard boxes or in desk drawers might like to read some tips on ways to try to put a date on when they might have been taken. The maps of the surveys showed where everything was; the wet- plate photographers showed precisely what was there. Mountain View, CA The case resembled a double frame. Very decorative.

Most family historians have THAT box. The box always looks roughly the same. Not long after I took up genealogy in , I began inheriting boxes and bags like those, and they all had lots of photographs — old ones. The photographs from the latter half of the 20th century are easiest to identify. Most times, I know the subject; if not, the bell-bottoms or dark wall paneling scream As you move back in time, what gets harder to identify are the black-and-white photographs. Some have dates printed along their white borders; others have dates stamped on the back.

This Website was paid for by – Auer Endowment -. Subscribe to RSS. Go Back. Posted by: The tintype was a variation of the ambrotype, but instead of a glass plate, a thin sheet of iron ferro was used. This inexpensive sheet of iron proved to be less fragile than either the ambrotype or daguerreotype.

Date Your Old Photos: Tips from the Photo Detective