African American Tintype Collection
Manuscript Collection 341

Collection Description:
0.5 cubic feet; nineteenth century

Introduced in the mid-19th century, tintypes are positive photographs produced when a nitrocellulose solution is applied to a thin enamelled black iron plate immediately prior to exposure. The tin-type is actually negative in its chemical formation, but is made to appear positive by the black plate. Tintype portraits were identical to daguerreotypes, as they were of the same standard sizes, and they were enclosed in the same type of case. They did not approach the brilliancy of daguerreotypes, however. By the 1860s the elaborate presentation of tintypes had been abandoned, and the metal sheets were simply inserted in paper envelopes, each with a cutout window the size of the image. Tintypes were regarded as folk art through the 19th century and were often used by sidewalk portrait artists at parks, fairs, and beaches. (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

This collection was donated to the Department of Special Collections by Mr. Leighton Coleman III.