by Vicki Ruthe Hahn
If anyone asks – I have this antique tintype photograph that someone left about June 2016 in a returned BPL Library book.
I have not dated the formal clothing/hair style of the young man in the photo yet,
and will be using it for my November 11, 2016 ”Contemporary Fashion Through the Ages” Stateline Genealogy Club @ Beloit Public Library program.
But I sure would love to get this sentimental keepsake to the owning (Beloit WI) family, and only will give it up to them.
This is the first time that I have seen or felt an actual tintype. It feels like a thin sheet of metal. And less fragile than the daguerreotype. It was not even in any protective case.
The man’s hair style is very distinctive. I will get back to you on what year (range of years) that I think he was photographed. Looking at it through a magnifying glass may help.
These are the kind of clues to look for in dating your own ancestors photographs:
Notice the man has one glove on, and the other is on top of the pillar. I wonder if he was in the Civil War, and had his left arm/hand wounded or amputated, then or elsewhere?
His hat is on the “ground” in front of him.
The “stone railing”, “grass”, and “landscape” are not real, but are studio props. Though I will have to find out if the grass, used inside studios, was actual grass that had to be replenished. I don’t think that manufacturing at that time would be able to duplicate that realistic look.
The formal clothes (tuxedo?) with cuff buttons, and piping, fitted vest, stud shirt buttons, make it hard to pin down the time, as formal wear now still looks similar to that suit. The suit may have a subtle faint striping effect.
From observing, I would say that the young man is fairly well-to-do. His hand looks clean, well manicured, and artistic. His glove fits well, and looks like expensive fine leather. The clothes fit well, so they are probably not borrowed from the photography studio (like poor folks would do.) His hair is recently styled, and fashionable. Maybe this is a portrait for a sweetheart, or just to celebrate a particular stage in his life. (Survived and home safe from the War? Gaining success in his settled profession? Looking for a wife?)
“Tintype photographs were 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 1860s and 1870s, but lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century.
It began losing artistic and commercial ground to higher quality albumen prints on paper in the mid-1860s, yet survived for well over another 40 years, living mostly as a carnival novelty.
The tintype’s immediate predecessor, the ambrotype, was done by the same process of using a sheet of glass as the support.
Tintypes were sturdy and did not require mounting in a protective hard case like ambrotypes and daguerreotypes.”
One can also look on DeadFred.com to get more connections to old Photographs (before 1965, and of people who have deceased.) (“Search, Preserve, Record, Remember”). You can search for, or post, photographs.
5 Ways To Search:
Quick Search Surname Search
Trace your roots for FREE with the searchable database containing thousands of identified and mystery photos for genealogy enthusiasts looking for long-lost family. Anyone who finds a photo of a direct ancestor that is owned by the archive will receive the photo for free.
Submit Your Photos:
Adding keywords to the comments field when posting photos to the archive makes them more easily found by other researchers. Submit Your Photos into the Archive and they will post them. Make sure that your photos are in some way identified (a name or country, or date, or state, etc.) and that they meet Dead Fred’s criteria. Currently, Dead Fred’s Photos were taken prior to 1965 and all subjects are now deceased.
Maureen A Taylor would be able to identify the time period instantly. For more of her expertise and suggestions on photograph history identification see: https://maureentaylor.com/
“The third type of cased photograph resembles a daguerreotype only because it is an image on metal. Unlike the daguerreotype and ambrotype more than one tintype could be made at a sitting. It was inexpensive to produce, and it took less than a minute to walk out of a photographer’s studio with one in hand. Some photographers used special multi-lens cameras to produce additional individual exposures. Tintypes, like daguerreotypes and ambrotypes were not made used a negative.
Tintypes or ferreotypes have a fascinating history. It was the first photographic process invented in the United States and its longevity is only surpassed by the paper print. A chemistry professor in Ohio patented the process in 1856…”