Jade's Tintypes & other Antique Photographs
What is a Tintype? Tintypes are also known as ferrotypes, or melainotypes. Melainotypes were some of the earliest tintypes and were made on very thick iron, covered with black japan varnish, then the collodion and image were placed on the plate. The metal plate of a melainotype is usually stamped with a date, usually ca. 1850s. This is particularly associated with Neff's plates.
Tintypes were made similarly but with a thinner plate. The first tintypes made in the USA were in 1853, but it was most widely introduced starting in 1856. Their popularity lasted until into the early 20th century, usually till about 1910, but some were still made as late as 1930. Also note that tintypes were not actually made out of tin, hence the alternative name, "ferrotype." Ferro is latin for iron. Tintypes were durable and could survive being mailed across the country, part of the reason they took the spotlight off of ambrotypes. They were also extremely cheap. Early tintypes were sometimes cased, but in general, they didn't need to be.