The Orphaned Images Project: Tippie Botts’ album (tintypes)

22 01 2011

Tintypes are also known as ferrotypes and melainotypes. They are actually produced on a metallic sheet (not actually tin) instead of traditional glass. The plate was coated with collodion photographic emulsion and sensitized just before it was exposed. Introduced by Adolphe Alexandre Martin in 1853, it became instantly popular, especially in the U.S.

Tintypes were popular with street photographers and photographers working outside fairs and carnivals because the process didn’t require much capital to get set up in business. It was also faster to create: no negative needed and no drying time—making it a one step process. Tintypes also didn’t require mounting in a case and were not as fragile as glass-based images. They were easy to cut and fit into pocket watches or charms. It was the most common photographic process until gelatin-based processes were introduced. 

In some of the images below, the photographer hand tinted the cheeks of his subjects.

Late-Breaking Research! I just figured out that Sarah (Sallie) Buchanan Gordon (the young girl whose autograph book I previously posted, along with a lock of her hair) would later marry William Marion Botts, a farmer. They had four children: Parrilee, William Jr., Lorraine and Tippie. So it appears the contents of this box might have originated with one family after all. I’m not sure what Nellie’s connection to the family is, though—perhaps they are cousins.

(It just dawned on me that my enthusiasm for this particular project is verging on obsessive…perhaps I should be researching my own family instead? Then again, I’ve never seen photos this old from either side of my family!)