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History, Conservation, and Repair The history of photographic prints, and how best to care for and repair them.

A very old photograph

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  #11  
Old 06-28-2005, 09:49 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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well, i'm just turning out to be more senile than i thought. there is writing on this one. and it would appear that it's my great-great grandfather, a Van Stone. that's the writing along the side. this is the one that i was going to post in the last post but realized i still had the other one in the scanner, so i've now scanned this one and am posting it here.

at a guess, i'd say this was taken probably at nearly the same time and in the same studio as the other one, being that this is most likely the husband of the woman in the other one.

pretty amazing

and btw, thank you for catching that bit about the cut off skirt. you've saved me a lot of re-work

Craig
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  #12  
Old 06-28-2005, 10:26 PM
MaryLynn MaryLynn is offline
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Glad you found the original tintype of the women. Surprising what we lose in our scanners, isn't it?

Back to my source for this information:

"In 1856, an Ohio chemistry professor named Hamilton Smith patented the process of coating an iron plate with collodion. The iron was coated with a black or brown varnish. The resulting image was a direct positive when viewed on the dark background. These images were known as melainotypes or ferrotypes, because of the iron backing. . . .

"The iron tintypes were more durable and weighed less than daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. Unlike the daguerreotype and the ambrotype, tintypes could be carried in a pocket or sent through the mail without risk. A coating of clear varnish further protected the image area."

No need to scratch the surface; just use a magnet. A magnet will stick to iron.

When you are restoring those images, pay attention to the baseboard of the wall in both pictures. You can see it very well in gggranddad's and only a very little next to gggrandma's skirt. If they look similar, your thought of being the same studio and timeframe are probably correct. Sometimes it is the obscure detail that ties things together.

Did your gggrandparents have a daughter? Could she be the younger woman?
Maybe even a granddaughter if the time is correct. Isn't this fun?

I'll have to prepare a couple of pictures and give you the details of my search to identify the subjects. It was a small detail that solved the mystery.
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  #13  
Old 06-28-2005, 10:53 PM
MaryLynn MaryLynn is offline
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I was given the cabinet card of the two women with no identifying information. The pink matte of the card was intriguing but other than tentatively dating it around 1870, I got no further.

Two years later a cousin gave me a scan of the man, telling me that her mother had given it to her saying, "This is grandpa." For thirty years cousin thought it was our grandfather George. I had other pictures of Grandpa George that were much better quality so I didn't think too much about it for another year or so.

One night out of a clear blue sky, it dawned on me that "Grandpa's" photo had a pink matte. I dug out both photos and looked at them side by side. The background is the same!

Since I had dated the women as 1870, there was no way the man could be Grandpa George as that is the year he was born. When my aunt identified the man as Grandpa, she meant her grandfather, Solomon, father of Grandpa George.

I've compared the woman standing with pictures known to be my great grandmother thirty years later and definitely see a resemblance. The man then is my great grandfather Solomon and this is the only picture of him that anyone has found so far.

Dating one photo helped date the other photo which in turn helped identify the subjects in the first. See why I love this stuff!
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  #14  
Old 06-29-2005, 09:21 AM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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ummm, a magnet will stick to both iron and steel. both are ferrous materials. so is there any other way to identify which this might be? your information certainly does point to it being iron and the information you posted about the coating certainly seems to match up with what i've got.

dont know about a daughter. i'll have to ask my folks. my dad's the geneologist in the family, but not sure he's traced this side of the family yet.

and had you not mentioned it, i probably wouldnt have noticed your two photos had the same background. the two pictures are taken at slightly different angles and distances to that background and it would be very easy to miss. good catch

Craig
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  #15  
Old 06-29-2005, 10:04 AM
MaryLynn MaryLynn is offline
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Regarding iron or steel, would it be possible to cut steel, even that thin, with tin snips? Would steel be as economical to use in this application? Tintypes were popular because they only cost a few pennies each.

I've learned to look for details such as the background or jewelry to link pictures and people. I am amazed by the talents of people on this forum who catch tiny little details for retouching or restoring a photo. As far as that goes, I may see something isn't quite right but don't know what is wrong or how to fix it. I'm still learning!

Btw, gggranddad is quite a handsome fellow!
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  #16  
Old 06-29-2005, 03:23 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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yes, you can cut thin steel with tinsnips, but you're probably right about the cost and availability. steel was relatively new back then. it's just a curiosity. someone, somewhere, at some time relatively recently, had mentioned something about steel tintypes, and i had just assumed it was steel until you had said otherwise. but, either way, it's a fascinating piece of history and technology.

well, you certainly caught my detail slip, so, good on ya!

i've started the restoring on the two ladies. i was also over at the folk's place today and asked my mother about a daughter of gggrandmom. all she had to say on it was that maybe and if so, then the daughter would have been my grandmother's mother, helen. and that's about all she came up with. dad, on the other hand, uses that geneology program on his computer and has a bunch of stuff on there going back to the 1200's, but i think that's mostly only tracing his side of the family currently. so, i'll have to check that when i can also.

one thing i've tried to see on the two tintypes is the background like you suggested. so far, it's difficult to tell. on the women one, there is something painted into the backdrop on the right of the picture, a dark column or tree-like image. i can find nothing similar on the male one. but, we both know that angles and lighting and backdrops changed, so that doesnt really tell me anything yet.

i was also talking to one of my brothers today and discussing this. i mentioned that i thought they might have been husband and wife, but why wouldnt they have taken one together? i mentioned the 'daughter' being in the one and we somewhat concluded that, in those times, daughters simply didnt do anything without an escort, usually a parent, ergo mother being with her in the one shot, and that dad was relagated to having his own done as the picture might have gotten too crowded for detail with the technology available back then. it's all supposition, of course, but did sort of make some sense. however, that doesnt stand up very well in light of the fact that i've got another tintype with four gentlemen in it.... so, back to the drawing board

at any rate, it's a pleasant little mystery and yes, all us males are good looking. thanks gggrandad

Craig
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  #17  
Old 06-29-2005, 03:47 PM
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alright, thought i'd whet your whistle a bit more here. i dont know who this one is. again, no markings that i can find and my mother doesnt know either. not sure if this was taken at the same place by the same person or not. the backdrop is much clearer in this one. i hope that comes through in this lower resolution. the compression was fairly severe in going to .jpg to post here. had to set it to about 20 to get it within 100k.

the tintype is slightly larger on this one, but not by much. it's not bent as badly as some of the others either. the laquer or varnish on the back is nearly black on this one, with no streaking whatsoever and the only mars to that are a tiny bit of 'bubbling' here and there.

the thing i was looking for here was the backdrop like you suggested. since this one is quite clear and gggrandmum's was so deteriorated, i was hoping that i could use this new one to reconstruct the other. but, i cant say for sure if it's the same backdrop or not. hardly seems so, but maybe.

and the other reason for posting this one is the period clothing. my word, such dark clothing and nary an ankle to show off and since you've taken a bit of interest in these, i thought you might enjoy it

also, i did one pass of 'sharpen more' to compensate for the .jpg loss here.

Craig
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  #18  
Old 06-29-2005, 06:16 PM
MaryLynn MaryLynn is offline
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Wow, she has several classic details that point to the period of 1878-1882. The curly fringed bangs were in vogue about this time and even though the shawl covers the back of her head, her hair is probably in a large braid or bun high on the back of her head.

The bodice of her dress ends just below the waist which is another indicator of the period along with the skirt that falls straight over the hips. Skirts before and after this period had draped overskirts, almost like an apron. (Look again at the skirt on the younger woman in your first tintype.)

Without restoration it is difficult to tell about jewelry and the size of the buttons on the bodice but the parasol was an important fashion accessory during this time period.

She is probably middle aged and married or widowed. The dark clothes may have been mourning clothes or she may have been traveling and wearing garments that would not look rumpled or dirty.

I love the background and the twig chair. Have fun with this one.

Yes, as the song goes, "In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking,. . ." It left everything to the imagination!

And beer is for wetting whistles!
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  #19  
Old 06-29-2005, 09:49 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Quote:
And beer is for wetting whistles!
hehe, well, i owe you one then. thank you

you're really quite into this, arent you. i'll have to remember that as i go along through the rest of these. i can post more of these if you like. i hate to wear out my welcome, though. so entirely up to you. it takes little to scan these and prep them for here, so it's not a problem for me.

ah well, back to the salt mines.

Craig
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  #20  
Old 06-30-2005, 01:06 AM
MaryLynn MaryLynn is offline
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Yes, I enjoy looking at those old pictures and finding the details. I have several good source books that are fun to look at just by themselves. I must remember that my sources are mainly American so there could be an element of ethnic or cultural difference when I look at pictures from other countries.

Thank you for the opportunity to play with your picture and please keep posting pictures if you like. It's a good learning experience for me. I'll probably never be able to restore a picture as well as others can but I can still enjoy seeing the personality emerge as I investigate the clothing and hairstyles, trying to imagine what the person's life was like the day they posed for the photographer. Will people be as fascinated to look at our pictures 125 years from now?

Women's clothing is a little easier for me at this point because the change in fashion was so obvious from year to year. Changes in men's clothing were not so obvious and it was not unusual for some men to only own one suit for most of their lives. Children's clothing is interesting, too.

Well, bedtime and back to the dogs and cats tomorrow.
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