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Online Catalogue last updated 17th of September 2023

The Ferrotype and How to Make It by Edward M. Estabrooke 1891

Ferrotype? Huh? What's that? It's also known as a melainotype. Most commonly called a tintype. You can think of it as the original Polaroid camera. It was quick, cheap, and produced a positive directly without a negative, and as a result, was very popular the last half of the 19th century.

Here you get the classic manual. This is the 7th edition from 1891, and might be the last edition produced. Like tintypes, the book was very popular, but is hard to find today. In fact, it was reprinted decades ago, and even the reprints can be expensive. Here you can get a copy inexpensively.

Ferro refers to iron. There is no tin in a tin type. During the Civil War steel was a scarce, expensive commodity. Railroads ran on wrought iron rails, not steel. And for making unbreakable photographs wrought iron was rolled into very thin sheets and jappaned. Onto that was flowed collodion syrup (first cousin of gun-cotton) with salts dissolved in, sensitized, exposed and quickly developed to give a positive.

Chapters include positive photography, the ferrotype, the glass room, the dark room, collodion, silver, developer and development, the collodion process, fog and other causes of failure, composition and illumination, vignettes and medallions, non-reversed ferrotypes, and the non-reversed medallion photography. Also include are page after page of heavily illustrated advertisements mostly for E & HT Anthony goods, since they were the publisher.

Build a camera and make some tintypes. These photos were very popular with young men going off to fight the Civil War, and are popular with re-enactors today. It's a fascinating process for those people who want to get beyond the obvious and rediscover lost technology. A classic photography book.

Code No. 012207, 171 pages, $34.00

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