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Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photogrpahers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.  Details of who owns the copyright of photographs and other mateiral on this web site.

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Early Photographic Processes

Tintype

or Ferrotypes

Unframed quarterplate tintype photograph of a man, a boy a nd a trophy

1856-1940  (mainly in the 19th century)

Discovery

Tintype photos, as the name implies, were photos with the image on a metal surface, rather than on glass or paper.

The tintype process or ferrotype process evolved from the ambrotype. It was invented by Prof. Hamilton Smith of Ohio in 1856.

Ambrotype images were collodion negatives on glass, viewed against a black surface.  Tintypes were negatives on on iron, coated with black paint, lacquer or enamel.

Both processes relied on the fact that a collodion negative appeared as a positive image when viewed against a dark surface.  A tintype was much cheaper to produce than an ambrotype, and was more durable.

Tintypes would be exposed while the sensitised collodion on the metal was still wet, and would be processed immediately after being exposed - so producing an early version of the 'instant photo'.

When mounted in cases, ambrotypes and tintypes can appear similar.  However the two types can be distinguished by testing them with a strong magnet applied to the centre of the glass.

The tintype process was patented by the  American, Hamilton L Smith.

The tintype process was a cheap process, used mainly by beach photographers and other itinerant photographers.

The results were often low quality, so studios tended not to use tintypes, except occasionally when a small 'gem' tintype images (about 1 ins x 1 ins) were mounted into a carte-de-visite size of card.

Question 1

Tintypes in Britain and America

  Tintype photograph from the USA.  When was it taken?

USA tintype

The person who sent this photo has asked when it might have been taken.  Please click on the image to read more.

Tintypes were produced in the USA from 1856 and became popular from the 1860s.  They remained popular into the 1900s and as late as the 1920s. Tintypes in the USA were usually of a decent size (not like in the UK) and big enough to see some good detail.

In UK the ambrotype (on glass) was much more common following the decline of the more expensive Daguerreotype.

Tintypes were introduced commercially (by Americans) into the UK in the early 1870s and started off being very small (about 15mm across - the Gem; and 35mm across - the Victoria). By the end of the decade they had become quite popular for the cheap end of the market and they were fitted into a card the same  size as the ubiquitous Carte de Visite and therefore fitted nicely into family albums.

Larger tintypes in the UK were more likely to be produced by itinerant photographers (seaside etc.) because the tin was light and unbreakable and tintypes became more and more popular in the 1880s and 1890s and lasted until as late as the 1930s on some beaches.       [Ron Cosens]

Question 2

  Tintype photo by an unknown photographer.  Is this photo likely to have originated in Europe or USA?

USA or Europe tintype?

Mike Maltz, Houston Texas USA, sent this tintype image to me.  (Please click on it to enlarge it.)

Mike is particularly interested in discovering whether this image is likely to have come from Europe of USA.  If you have any views on this, please e-mail me. 

Thank you.  -  Peter Stubbs.

Tintype in the Civil War

In America, tintypes were used by the travelling photographers following the armies of the civil war.  Tin (or actually thin iron sheet) was cut to size by the photographers.  The sheet was then coated with something like tar.  This process was cheap, and the results could be mailed home without breaking.

[Ken Watson]

Process

- Coat a thin blackened sheet of iron with wet collodion on one side.

-  Take photo with special camera (with up to 36 lenses).

-  Process while still wet

-  Cut into small rectangles, one per photo.

-  Perhaps mount on card to fit a carte de visite album OR

-  Perhaps fit into a cheap case, possibly with glass

Tintype Cameras

Tintype cameras would normally hold a stack of unprocessed tin  plates inside the camera.  They would have a device such as a rubber sucker and moving arm to raise each of the plates in turn to be exposed.

After exposure, the plate would be dropped through a slot in the base of the camera into a tank that held chemicals for immediately processing the image.  The chemicals would be a high strength solution that would develop and fix an image.  This was designed so that the developer would work faster than the fixer, and the image would be ready to washed in about a minute.

The image would normally be reversed, left to right, but some cameras included a mirror or prism that made the image appear 'right way round'.

Alternatively, the photographer could re-photograph his original tintype photo in order to get an image right way round.

[Details in the first two paragraphs above are based on an article by John Coathup in Photographica World, the journal of the Photographic Collectors Club of Great Britain:  No 125, 2008/3, pp.24-29]

Result

The Image

The image of an ambrotype would be either reversed (left to right) or 'normal' depending on how the glass was mounted.

However, the image of a tintype would always be reversed.

Nevertheless, the tintype process was widely used for portraiture, being the cheapest form of portrait available.  It was often used by travelling photographers, including seaside photographs.

Some attractive tintypes in cases have been found, but typically, a tintype photo was of poor quality, with a limited range of tones, the lighter tones lacking life.

Mercury chloride was sometimes used to whiten the image.  This is about the most deadly poison we know today.  
[Ken Watson]

Presentation

       Tintype Photo of Man  -  unframed  

A tintype is likely to be small, perhaps 1.5 x 2.5 ins, or only 1 x 0.5 ins in the case of a gem tintype.

It may be:

-  framed in a more basic case than is used for ambrotypes OR

-  mounted on a card, the same size as a carte de visite  to fit a Victorian photograph album OR

-  fitted into a locket

 

 

In Edinburgh

Tintypes at the Seaside

Tintype photographs were often produced by beach photographers.  Edinburgh is situated close to Portobello, a popular seaside resort around 1900.  Several photographers had studios on the Promenade at Portobello, but I have found no Portobello tintype photos.

Tintypes at the Empire Exhibition

However, I have a more recent recent tintype portrait in a thin silver coloured frame measuring
 2 1/2 ins. x 3 ins, marked:

Photomatic TRADEMARK USA

British Automatic Co. Ltd.

Empire Exhibition - Scotland - 1938.

Gem Portraits

Below are two a Gem Portraits - a small tintype photo mounted behind a carte de visite sized cardboard mount.  The mount was often a pastel shade, with pattern.

Both the gem portraits above have been  produced by studios at 75 Princes Street -  at the foot of Hanover Street opposite the Royal Scottish Academy Galleries.

    Gem Portrait by William White of 75 Princes Street

Gem Portrait from J Austin's American Gem Studio [front]

White's
American Portraits,

J Austin's
American Gem Studio

Further Information

Gem and Carte de Visite
Tintype Photos

For further information on Gem and Carte de Visite tintype photos, please see the web site of Photo Historian, Marcel Safier, Holland Park, Queensland, Australia.

This web site gives a brief description of the tintype and its origin.  It refers to tintype albums and lists many studios producing tintypes in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Sources of information are given and there are links to other relevant web sites.

 

 

Early Photography -  More pages

All Pages       Processes      Types of Photograph       Prices charged       Sizes

 

 

 

Links to Other Pages

EdinPhoto - Home Page      Please send me an e-mail ...  with your questions, comments, suggestions or news.      At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.            At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.

Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photogrpahers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.  Details of who owns the copyright of photographs and other mateiral on this web site.

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Frequently Asked Questions

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