Tintypes were produced from 1856 through the 1920s and were very popular. They were inexpensive and very durable. Despite the name, they were made of iron, not tin, and are sometimes called ferrotypes. Like the daguerrotype, the tintype was a direct positive photographic image, in this case made upon a thin sheet of black enameled iron coated with a photographic emulsion. Tintypes were frequently hand-colored to give the image a little more life and the surface was varnished. They may be found in a case similar to the ambrotype and daguerrotype and come in sizes ranging from the tiny "gem" (3/4 x 1 inch) to a full plate (about 8 x 10 inches). Many tintypes created after about 1870 had a brown, or "chocolate," tint added.
Visit the City Gallery online to learn more about tintypes.
This page copyright March 2001 by Susan Goss Johnston.