Tintype - Antique and Vintage Cameras


Image of Portrait of a man holding a book

Portrait of a man holding a book
. c. 1860. 6 x 4.5 cm, rouged, mounted on white card. The plate is stamped "NEFF PAT 19 FEB 56". The reverse of the mount has "Mrs George Brockley 9 Pitt Street".

Neff bought Smith's patent of 1856 covering the ferrotype process in 1857. He sold plates from that time until 1863.

Portrait of a man
. c. 1890s. 3 " x 2 " in a glazed frame.

Image of Portrait of a woman

Portrait of a woman
. c. 1890s. 3 " x 2 " in a glazed frame. Partially tinted with gilt highlights.

Image of Portrait of a man, studio setting

Portrait of a man, studio setting
. c. 1910. 3 " x 2 " in a leather case.

Portrait of a young man
. 1" x 13/16".

Portrait of a woman
. 3" x 2 ".

Image of Portrait of a young man

Portrait of a young man
. 2 ⅝" x 3 ", in a pink card mount with oval aperture.

Image of Full-length study of two seated men

Full-length study of two seated men
. Studio setting, 2 " x 3 ".

Two men in a pony and trap
. Outdoor setting, 2 " x 3 " in a frame.

. 2 " x 1 " in a card mount 5" x 3 ".

Image of Two Gem-size images

Two Gem-size images
. J.G. Kirby, London. Two images of a man, gilt frames, 1" x ".

Address: 295 Edgware Rd.

Gem-size image
. J.G. Kirby, London. Image of a woman, ⅞" x ⅝" mounted in card 3 " x 2 ⅜". The reverse carries Kirby's price list.

Address: 295 Edgware Rd.

Image of American

. Two images in white mounts 3 ⅞" x 2 ⅜" with a blindstamp of 'Potters Patent March 7 1865'.

R.W. Potter's patent, number 46,699, was for a simple card mount to hold a photograph with embossing around the central opening.

Image of American

. Wood's Gem Gallery, Albany, N.Y.. Images of a man in white mount 3 ⅞" x 2 ⅜". On the reverse of the card an advert for the gallery is used to hold the tintype in place.

Address: 496 Broadway.

Gem Images
. Early 1880s. James Frederick Lowrie, London. Four Gem images mounted on cards. On the reverse of the card an advert for the gallery is used to hold the tintype in place.
  • Yellow mount with Japanese theme, 4" x 2 ".
  • Blue mount with Japanese theme, 4" x 2 ".
  • Pink mount with Japanese theme, 4" x 2 ".
  • Cream mount, 4 3/16" x 2 ". The reverse of the mount has the address of 184 Fleet St. crossed out and replaced by 83.

Address: 83 Fleet St.

Gem Image
. Early 1880s. Gem image mounted on 3 " x 2 " card.

Image of Gem Image

Gem Image
. Early 1880s. Anglo-American Photographic Co., London. Gem image mounted on 4" x 2 " card. White mount with gold surround.

Address: 153 Fleet St., also at 272 Regent Circus, Oxford St.

Early ferrotypes were produced by the wet collodion process on a support of thin iron sheet having a japanned or lacquered finish. They were produced directly in the camera and are in many respects the equivalent of an ambrotype but on metal, that is, they are thin negative images placed against a dark background so as to appear as a positive. The metal support was at first coloured black later brown was more common. The image is laterally reversed.

Ferrotypes became popular in the United States when introduced in the mid 1850s, there, the process was used in studios as a replacement for the ambrotype. In Britain the process had little support until the 1880s and 1890s when it became popular with photographers working at fairgrounds and seaside resorts.1

The ferrotype process was capable of yielding good quality images though a bit flat in tone. Because the process was easy and very quick to use it became popular with itinerant photographers and associated with the lower end of the portrait trade. In their cheaper forms they required little or no mounting, they had the advantage over glass of being unbreakable and were much lighter; ideal for the souvenir trade.

Most images are small, better quality images are found in cases or mounted in frames, they are also found mounted in albums and in jewellery. Cheaper images were simply placed behind a card with an oval aperture, the tintype was held in place by paper stuck to the back of the card. Another method, used on cheaper images, was to mount it between a sheet of folded card of a similar size to a carte de visite,

The name ferrotype is unfortunate as it had already been used by Robert Hunt for an un-related process. In Britain the name was also used to describe the metal plates themselves that were used for glazing prints as well as for use in the ferrotype process.

Dry Ferrotype
In the late 1880s dry plates coated with gelatine silver bromide emulsion were introduced.

References & Notes:
Cyclopedia of Photography, p. 240. Eder, History, p. 369. Information on the Wet Collodion Process.

[1] The process was patented in America by Hamilton L. Smith in 1856 and assigned to William and Peter Neff. US Pat. 14300/1856.
Smith's process was described in Phot. News 1/1/1856, p. 11.
An excellent description of the early history of the tintype in the USA, including the relationship between Smith, Neff and Victor M. Griswold is in Robert Taft's book, Photography and the American Scene.

Company Details:

Lowrie, J.F.





Calotype & Salt Prints

Cartes de Visite

Cabinet & Studio Mounts

Carte de Visite Album

Stereo Cards and Diapositives


'Hold to Light' Photographs


Colour Processes


Illustrated Books

Novelty Photographs


Lantern Slides

Film Strips

Wet-plate Negatives

Dry-plate Negatives