“You Cant Call It…..”

While looking for information to post about the the history of dry-plate I ran across another photographer/artist that I had not know about.  Her name is Susan Seubert and you can take a look at some of her dry-plate work here.

 Also you may be interested in seeing some additional work by Jayne Hinds Bidaut that I ran across.  I really dig many of her works.

   After having a few emails arrive stating that it is not correct to call a gelatin silver halide based metal image a ferrotype (tintype) I thought that I would point out a few things.  First off, I don’t really care…….but I will say that dry-plate was meant for making glass negatives, just as there were collodion (wet-plate) glass negatives made.  Marriam-Webster does state the definition of a ferrotype as: a positive photograph made by a collodion process on a thin iron plate having a darkened surface — called also tintype. By this I would guess that you cannot have a dry-plate tintype because it is not made with collodion.  What ever.

The current process for making contemporary dry-plate emulsions is based on the discoveries made around 1871.  The idea is clearly for the making of glass negatives to be printed to paper, BUT did anyone use the emulsion on a blackened piece of metal to make a “tintype”?  I am sure that someone did, but as the era of the ferrotype was quickly dying at that time, I don’t know if there is any historical record to prove it.  I did find one thing below, but the accuracy could be in question:

Many American and to a lesser extent Australian and British family photograph albums of nineteenth century contain carte de visite tintypes and the beautiful miniature gem albums were quite popular in American homes from the 1860s to the 1880s. The development of a dry plate tintype was accompanied by a great upsurge in popularity of the medium from the late 1870s  but by the mid-1880’s the gem tintype had essentially faded from existence, although matted tintypes in paper and card mounts, but using larger than gem size images continued to be offered well into the twentieth century as a form of inexpensive, immediate photography which seemed well suited to cater to the tourist market. They became essentially the Polaroid of their day.


Generic timeline of dry-plate in relation of wet:

The next major development in photography was the “dry plate” negative, which made picture taking much less cumbersome. A colloidion dry plate was invented in 1855 and used commercially between 1864 and 1880, but it never became very popular. The gelatin dry plate was invented in 1871, and by 1880 supplanted not only the colloidion dry plate, but the old colloidion wet plate as well. These convenient dry plates continued in use until about 1920 when they were replaced by the plastic based films.


I will continue to look into this…..maybe….but I will state my view on my work again.  I am not a living historian, and have no desire to keep these photographic processes pure.  I am an artist/photographer who creates CONTEMPORARY ferrotypes (tintypes), both wet-plate and dry-plate and use those processes for the reason of producing my vision, and not for historic preservation or education.

As always……..go create something!


~ by Phil Nesmith on July 18, 2007.

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