Sunday, May 9, 2010


Tintypes, more properly called ferrotypes, were quite popular in the period from 1850's through the early 1900's. The introduction of this method of photography was a great step forward in producing multiple permanent images. This was done by projecting a positive image on a thin plate of japanned iron which had been coated with a collodion emulsion. The process was inexpensive.
For use on buttons, the same image was reproduced many times, close together, on one sheet. The pictures were cut out with a circular chisel to make button disks.
Tintypes buttons are almost all small brass-rimmed men's waistcoat (vest) buttons; the far-fewer larger ones were worn on women's dresses.
It is said men going to war wore small-size buttons on their vests with pictures of their mothers, children, wives, or sweethearts. Many tintypes are pictures of Royal, military and political leaders and other famous people.
The only one on my card that I know of is the top button..Actress Adah Isaccs Menken (1835-1868), whose main claim to fame was from her stage role in MUZEPPA and her scandalous exit from the stage--riding, in a nude-colored body stocking, strapped to the back of a galloping horse. It brought down the house at theatres worldwide.
CLICK on picture to enlarge.
Interesting hats, hair styles and clothing!


  1. Do you know where I might be able to get an example of the tintype button you point out?

    Nick Sekela

  2. oops..sorry I missed your comment until might try ebay!