Tintype Quality

Figure 1.--Here is an example of the low-quality images produced in the tin-type process. Unlike studio care-de-viste and cabinent cards, they can not be enlarged with any quality. Note the very basic back drop, a sure indicator that this was made by an itinerate photographer with very basic facilities. The image was probably take somewhere in New Brunswick, Canada, probably around 1900. Image courtesy og the CO collection.

American tintypes were normally made in a large enough size to see some detail. The tintype process was an inexpensive photographic process. It was a process commonly used by itinerant photographers. The makeshift facilities commonly used by these itinerate photographers resulted in generally low-quality images. Established studios did not normally use the tintype process. An exception was when a client wanted the small 'gem' tintype images described above. Even though the tintype was a not as good an image as a proper studio carte de viste or cabinent portrait, they were still made in large quantities. Not only were they inexpensive, but the itinerate photographers set up in convient places like vbeaches or fairs or actually came to isolated rural areas. The low cost and convenience compensated for the quality. The shelac used on the portraits also impaired the quality. While most of the tin-types we have found are not very high quality, we have found some quality tin-types. A good exanple is an unidentified Afro-American boy.


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Created: 12:22 AM 8/31/2004
Last updated: 8:05 PM 12/19/2006