Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sunday Strays - A handsome fellow.

 Another photograph from my own Stray Photograph collection. This time it's a 'tintype' or more properly, a ferrotype. 

These were popular from the late 1850s, in some places right up until the mid 20th century. I've shown at least one before, taken in England at the seaside. Ferrotypes were quick to process, could be offered quite cheaply and made nice souvenirs. 

I wonder what prompted this photograph, who this young man was and what was the occasion? He is dressed in his best. It is inevitable that we guess - perhaps it was for his mother as he was going far away to work, or for his sweetheart. 

And I wonder who the photographer was. A careful person, I think. This one is nicely done. And coloured too.

We see its rough cut edges but when this photo was new it was likely in a paper or board frame or card so those were hidden. And the paper protector may have had the photographer's name, or even the sitter's. Long lost. 

This is is 2 1/2 inches by 4 inches - most ferrotypes are small. And this is a unique image; no negative. And reversed which might be of importance if you are one who, for example, compares ears in photographs! 

I have been asked before what the backs look like, so you can see here - just shiny black, with a bit of what likely was glue on edges. If you do have some of these, be careful not to get fingerprints on the front or back. Sometimes you will see those from past handling. 

If you are wondering about those odd metal photos in your own family collections, Colin Harding wrote a helpful blog article on recognizing ferrotypes for The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, UK. This includes a lovely video that shows a photographer creating a ferrotype. I think you will find it very interesting! 

"How To Spot A Ferrotype, Also Known As A Tintype (1855–1940S)" with video by Mark Osterman from George Eastman House.

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