The American Antiquarian Society's photograph collection includes over two hundred tintypes. Tintypes, also known as ferrotypes or melainotypes, were produced from the mid-1850s until as late as the mid-1930s. They were less expensive and more durable than either daguerreotypes or ambrotypes, and quickly became the most popular form of early photography. The image consists of a collodion positive fixed to a thin plate of varnished iron. The name "tintype" is derived from the tin shears used to cut the image from a larger sheet.

Tintypes were sometimes placed in cases similar to those of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes to give them a more expensive look, but because of their thinness, they were more often placed in small albums or cut to fit jewelry. Though similar in appearance to ambrotypes, they are generally lighter, and will attract a small magnet. Sizes are similar to those of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, but also include the Gem or Thumbnail Size of 1" x 1" or smaller.


The collection has been fully digitized. A fully illustrated inventory is available for this collection.

Images are also available through the Society's digital image archive.

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