Monday, January 16, 2012


The subject of the tintype shown here is my great-grand mother on my father's side, Emma.
My challenge in framing is that this piece is small and I want a large image to frame. I think
enlarging the image in Photo Shop and making a second cutout in the matting to reveal the original piece will work.  Using special acrylic to reduce the risk of ultraviolet damage is a good idea.
A moulding of Victorian design would be appropriate, I think.

According to Dave Mishkin, a tintype is a photograph made on a sheet of iron instead of a piece of paper. In 1856 Hamilton Smith patented the process for producing tintypes. Most tintypes were brownish in color and the most common size was about 2 ½ " x 3 ½". Tintypes were popular from1856 until the early 1900's. Tintypes were also called ferrotypes and melainotypes. Many tintypes were put in cases making it more difficult to differentiate them from a daguerreotype. Many tintypes were placed in a paper or cardboard frame while others were used in jewelry or in photo albums. The photographer would frequently clip the corners to make the insertion in the paper or cardboard frame easier. You may find very small tintypes (about postage stamp size) in a photograph album. These were called Gem tintypes. Some schools had photographic albums for their graduating classes and they used the Gem sized tintypes for insertion in the albums. Tintypes were produced in the millions in the United States and are very commonly found today. Just like daguerreotypes, some of the tintypes were cased. Being cased makes it more difficult to distinguish the tintype from a daguerreotype.
After processing, most tintypes were varnished to protect the surface from abrasions and atmospheric conditions. Today you will find that many tintypes that were varnished are experiencing a cracking in the varnish coating. From the time it was introduced to the early 1900's tintypes were the preferred photographic process used by itinerant and street photographers. Tintypes were made mostly for portrait photography because of their relatively low cost and rapid development times. However, the image quality was not quite as good as other photographic methods.

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