The Tintype in America, 1856–1880 is the history of the tintype from its invention in Paris to the end of the wet-plate era. It included the early plate manufacturers Peter Neff (melainotype) and Victor M. Griswold (ferrotype); its process, patents, and presentations; and the society and industry that supported it.
Always suspicious of art, Americans embraced the tintype. They were comfortable with its artlessness and liked the come-as-you-are independence of the thing. It was so quick, so easy, so spontaneous. At the end of the day the stories were real, untouched by the manipulations of artist or photographer, and unencumbered by Romantic notions of moral and civic virtue.
Janice Schimmelman is Professor of Art History at Oakland University in Rochester, MI.