Very Interesting Tintype Photo History, 1836-1917
Pictured in tintypes people wanted to show their livelihood, their occupations. They were proud.
For occupations, a farmer showed a horse collar; Billy the Kid showed a gun for his main trade.
The tintype camera was a recording machine rather than a picture of vanity like todays camera.
In 1865, soldiers didn't have a birth certificate, and death certificates were needed for burial.
Some subjects in the picture were alive, some were deceased as the pictures were necessary.
The camera and its tintype photos became a necessary recording machine for dead soldiers.
Photos of the dead became a necessary identification to record the deceased before burial.
The camera became a recorder. People ididn't smile for lack of a dentist, or one's knowledge.
The First Photograph Invented
In 1813 in Chalon sur Saone, France, Frenchman, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a scientist,
began experimenting with herographs. Niépce placed transparent engravings on glass plates
coated with light-sensitive varnish mix. Exposed to light, he hoped an image would appear.
Niépce had some success in copying engravings, but had no photo success until two years
later when he found pewter plates supported his media. He repeatedly used bitumen knowing
this would lead to a clearer image. He kept working on it in his lab knowing his would be first.
By 1826, in an upper-story window workroom in Le Gras, Niepce set up his newest invention,
his camera-obscure. Placing a polished pewter plate coated with bitumen of Judea, a
petroleum asphalt derivative, his chemical of choice to 'burn' an image onto different metals.
Each experiment took many hours and many days sometimes developing only faded images.
After at least one day of a long exposure and washing his plate with a mixture of Oil of Lavender
and white petroleum, his mixture dissolved some of the bitumen which had not been hardened
by light. There was an image recorded from his upstairs window, his lens pointed to the court
yard below. The courtyard image faint as it hardened on a glass plate. He called his first
invention a herograph (negative) - his journal described him experimenting with herographs.
He had not expected much light and to records a faint herograph was at least something.
After several attempts to patent a clear image, Niépce gave up on his experiments but kept his
journals intact. He registered his invention as a 'herograph' at the Royal Society of England.
Soon after, he had passed away at a relatively young age, without any celebration or notoriety.
His father tried his best to salvage all of his equipment in his experimenting lab as its owner.
Before he could, his partner, Louis Jacques Daguerre, an artist, took over those experiments.
He re-patented the same image as a "Photographie" noting a positive, instead of a negative.
The word 'photographie' meant "drawing in light" as the Royal Society of England accepted it.
In 1839 Daguerre used Niepce's image calling it "court yard - La Gras" as the first 'photograph'
calling the image his own and registered the invention officially with Royal Society of England.
Later that year on March 14, in a lecture at the Royal Society of England, Sir John Herschel
accredited Daguerre for his registered offering of a patented 'photographie', mentioning that
the invention shall be known as "Daguerre-type" to the entire world. But, at the same tme,
accredited Niepce's patented 'herograph' as the first recorded, noting both are the same image.
However, in the end, Herschel never separated the two inventors, noting both were instrumental
with registering the same image, inventions as partners, and patented as two entities.
Finally In 1852, historian Helmut Gernsheim, verified the first authentic photograph image and
returned fame to Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, as first registered at the Royal Society of England. It
was held that Joseph Nice'phore Niépce was the first inventor of the image, and that both
patents are synonyms for each and that both, "herograph" and "photographie" is noted for 1839.
First patented by Joseph N. Niepce as a hierograph, later by Louis J. Daguerre as photograph.
See the complete synopsis above. Niepce and Daguerre were partners, chemists, scientists.
Ambro-type - 1841
The Ambrotype was invented by John Ambrose who patented our first positive black & white
image. This type of photo never dried like Daguerre's, it was to be covered, sealed within glass,
never to be opened. A broken seal would leak light through the edge making a prism,
damaging the photograph. If your seal is broken, your image will be a negative if tilted, then a
positive when tilted back. If not, this tintype will not need restoring. The Ambrotype lasted until
1863, replaced by another popular photograph recipe.
Ferro-type - 1856
Patented on February 19th, 1856 by Hamilton Smith in the USA, (no picture)Hamilton read
about its emulsion as its recipe was written by Adoph Alexandre' Martin in 1853 in France. Both
men found a fast drying emulsion, didn't need glass, was durable metal, was inexpensive and it
was truly our first instant photograph. There were many tintype tents whose photographers
would setup in parks and his customers would line up for their photographs.
For color, the photographs were dabbed with an assortment of 8 different chemicals mixtures
which made its color once mixed with albumen. The Army was compulsory about the color of
their uniforms, either blue or gray. Photographers were superb artists mixing the colors.
The Ferrotype was placed into leather cases. The ferro-type case was a box-frame, opening
like a book with leather or vinyl bounding at the yoke. The cover was carved in ornate design.
If vinyl, there were no carvings. Inside the "book" the photo was framed by brass but gilded
oand shaped into an oval and it clipped onto the box-frame. Some tintypes became loosened
and were separated from the box. Some were lost in the Plains area during travel in covered
wagons, some found were without frames as their corners appeared clipped where they
clipped onto the frame body inside the brass surround. Its recipe repeated in the Polaroid.
Tintype Photo Frames
This tintype frame was leather-bound with ornate metal shroud.
Metal tintype corners were folded to attach with the brass frame.
On the left side was an over-stuff velvet pad which hid the mirror.
Ladies used the mirror to make-up their face with a velvet pad.
On the right-side was the brass ornate frame, cradled a tintype.
Many tintypes were given to children for a toy - to scratch up.
The Cabinet Card - a copy of Tintype Photos on a Mimeograph
Highly skilled artists reproduced copies of tintype photos onto plates for a mimeograph print.
The first prints were faint at best as people rejected them. Its copies were placed into a cabinet
and forgotten about as people called their extra pap-photos "those cabinet cards nobody likes".
In 1876 the mimeograph was dumped as people went back to the tintype photos in albums.
In 1887, the mimeograph was reinvented and its history is the next topic.
The Mimeograph invented in 1876, Resurrected in 1887
Invented in 1876 by Thomas Edison, it was the sleek photo maker which nobody liked worse.
Edison dumped his invention for "a bigger fish" which he did often when he was so busy.
The mimeograph was resurrected by A. B. Dick, a businessman who bought the invention from
Edison then sold his mimeographs to companies and schools to produce copies - of anything.
William Henry Fox Talbot use quality writing paper coated with silver iodide and silver chloride.
Though his goal was to produce a negative on paper later to be printed to a positive, his goal
was never realized when it was found out that the image produced was grainy, slightly fuzzy, and
lesser clear than the Daguerre process. His invention needed to be coated several times with
more chemicals to produce a light sensitive paper for an image, just to produce a negative.
Collotype Cabinet Cards (also spelled Calotype)
Recipe patent was 1840 before ferrotype was almost the same recipe for prints on paper.
Invented by William Henry Fox Talbot of UK, they were used after the Ferrotype photo.
While the 1840s had other “types” with images developed on polished metal (tins),
Talbot found an albumen recipe produced an faint image on paper - large, in the 13X19 sizes.
Paper photos were far less imaged than tintypes. Photos leading to the 1850s were a technical
change as great artists who produced these photographs were thought of as a first rank.
Many of them were highly qualified painters who produced ambitious works of art, all of which
looked like real tintype photographs, although they very much lacked luster of earlier "types".
Made mostly for the high social ranks, Collotypes were actually a handcrafted artistry.
Although Talbot tried to control his patent rights, by the late 1840s, French photographers
including Louis-Adolphe Humbert de Molard in Normandy, Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Evrard in
Lille, and Gustave Le Gray in Paris were circumventing their potential of the calotype photos. In
1851, Calotype was renamed as Collotype. After that, more photographic scientists had found
new recipes for the Collotype photos and this type of photo became more popular later in 1918
as the Ferrotype waned from popularity in 1917 as plastic film was getting more popular.
The Carte de Visite - 1854
This was a paper photo calling card, patented by Andre' Engene Disderi.
The carte de visite added popularity to the popular Collotypes, and later popular Cabinet Cards.
Patented in Paris, France - it was made of albumen print on paper mounted on a thicker paper.
Its size was a small 2.1 inches X 3.5 inches, much like a business card in the United States.
In 1854, Disdéri had also patented a method of taking eight separate negatives on a single
plate, which reduced production costs. The Carte de Visite was slow to gain widespread use
until 1859, but when Disdéri published photos in this format for Emperor Napoleon III, this
made the format so popular it was known as "cardomania" and eventually spread World-Wide.
Cabinet Cards supplanted Carte de Visite to a larger version of 4.5in. X 6.5in (4X6 later).
Hannibal Goodwin inventor of Plastic Rolled Film - patented 1870 and 1881
In 1870 Hannibal Goodwin a film patent for clear celluloid plastic but never did anything with it.
In 1881 Peter Houston of Wisconsin (no picture available) made rolled plastic that was shiny
enough for chemicals to stick to make an image. Tintypes was the same with its polish metal.
Peter Houston passed away too early produce his. His brother David took over Peters' patent.
The patent was sold to George Eastman for $5000 and in those days, that was HUGE money.
Eastman had the best invention of the century; He didn't live long enough to see that fortune.
1888 Eastman-Kodak Company Begins in a Loft in New York City
George Eastman developed a camera from Houston's drawings of rolled film in a box camera.
Eastman expanding Kodak from a 2nd floor loft to 4 floors upward and a loading dock at rear.
Eastman partnered with Edison in 1891 with an idea for a kinetic-scope which also used rolled
film to record images bigger and faster with Edison's new very bright bulbs for motion pictures.
Edison's bright light was developed into the first X-ray vacuum tube for the medical business.
Small Carte de Visite,
Same as Collotype, and
Same as Cabinet Card
|William H. McCarty
'Billy the Kid'
(if you're curious)
|very first photo ever
Patented By Nicepce
|Louis J. Daguerre,
|Edison and Eastman's
Patented the First Photo
|John Ambrose, invented
the Ambro-type photo
paid Goodwin +
invented the Calotype
|Andre Disderi, inventor
Carte de Viste,1854
|Gustave Le Gray
had his Collotype recipe
|Louis Deseri had
his collotype recipe
|The Buffalo Bill Show
|The Annie Oakley Show
had his collotype recipe
|Cabinet Card Inventors
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