This portrait was created with tintype photography, a method of capturing images onto thin sheets of metal that was invented in 1851. Tintypes were the dominant form of photography during the American Civil War, and peaked in popularity during the 1860's and 1870's (though they were still used into the early 20th century).
Unlike earlier photographic methods like daguerreotypes, which had up to a fifteen minute exposure time, tintypes had the advantage of being both inexpensive and quick to develop. As a result, photo booths were introduced to carnivals and fairs, opening up photography to the masses.
The exposure process usually took less than a minute for tintypes, and a skilled photographer could even develop the photo in just 10 or 15 minutes. Despite their name though, no tin is actually used—the metal slides are actually made from lacquered iron.
This tintype measures approximately 2 by 3.5 inches, and features the portrait of woman sitting in a chair.
The metal plate is dented and has been significantly bent, though is now mostly flat. The image itself is crisp though small portions have flaked off where the bends occurred. The back side has no corrosion.
Tintypes must be handled with pure cotton or nitrile gloves, as sweat and finger oils can corrode them. A set of gloves and an acid-free archival envelope will be included with your order.
This image comes from a private collection in Missouri, United States. A Certificate of Authenticity is included.