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A Tiny Tintype - Postage Stamp Format

In Photographs > Tintypes > Show & Tell.
Tintypes18 of 237Richebourg Daguerreotype Camera w/Reversing Mirror (French, 1842): understanding laterally reversed picturesVintage pictures
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    Posted 2 years ago

    (325 items)

    Oh my. It’s surprising what turns up when cleaning and organizing my camera collection closet. And as a specialist of early American photographic apparatus, I am amazed at the number of images that somehow snuck in and now accompany the cameras. Posted here is a tiny tintype I forgot about. Measuring a mere 3/4 x 7/8 inches inside a brass over-mount, it is the smallest image in my collection.

    As photography matured since its invention, picture formats eventually standardized and the smallest of the standards became known as “sixteenth plate” measuring 1-3/8 x 1-5/8 inches. Really small images were advertised as “gem” formats. Yet some of the smaller sizes, such as this tintype, were sometimes referred to as “postage stamp” images. Putting it into perspective, the tintype is incredibly tiny when shown with the extremely popular 1/9-plate (2 x 2½ inches) daguerreotype gem format.

    As a side note, also notice that the daguerreotype is brighter in appearance than the tintype. This is because daguerreotype images are formed on mirror-like surfaces of silver coated copper plates.

    A few specialized “multiplying cameras” could produce postage stamp images. The American builder Simon Wing made several cameras capable of producing large numbers of very small ½ x ½ inch images on larger plates. His cameras had four to nine lenses, masks, and backs that shifted vertically and horizontally in very small increments. Unfortunately these Wing cameras are quite rare and I’ve been unsuccessful in acquiring one of his larger multiplying studio cameras for my collection.

    In contrast to the larger, mechanically complex multiplying cameras, a few companies manufactured simple box-form cameras with 12 or 15 lenses capable of directly creating postage stamp format pictures in one shot. One example is the 15-lens Butcher Royal Mail Stamp Camera (in my collection and posted here on CW). It made 3/4 x 7/8 inch pictures on standard 3¼ x 4¼ inches glass plates. To achieve this, an internal septum forms individual dark chambers for each image. However, this postage stamp tintype was more likely produced by an earlier Wing camera (or similar) because the Royal Mail was designed for glass plates. Regardless, after the plate was developed, each image was then cut from its metal plate with a heavy pair of snips.

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    1. scottvez scottvez, 2 years ago
      GREAT to see an original camera that made these images!

      Thanks for sharing rob.

    2. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
      A bit off subject, but I've got a question for you experts. All of the pix of Yankee invaders, seem to be in reversed. (unless they are all lefties). I am running into a lot of pix of Southern patriotic soldiers that are not in reverse. Any ideas on this ? (I'm not biased in any way!).
    3. scottvez scottvez, 2 years ago
      Tintypes and daguerreotypes are mirror images (ambrotypes CAN be displayed with a true image, but often are not), so the lettering on belt plates will not read correctly.

      Often photographers had soldiers hold weapons in left hands or flip a belt rig to make it appear correct. There were camera devices used to correct the effect, but from my experience, they weren't used by most photographers.

      The mirror effect is a useful tool in the identification of copy photographs.

    4. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
      Thanks, Scott … good info. To add, the reason dags and tintypes are mirror images is because the pictures are made directly on the plate without a negative. The camera lens reverses the image. And yes! There were devices that could correct backwards images; they are very rare. These accessories were typically a reversing prism or reversing mirror that attached to the front of the lens. The limitation is that the subject had to be positioned 90 degrees to the camera and prism (or mirror).
    5. scottvez scottvez, 2 years ago
      Do you have an example of a reversing mirror/ prism in your collection or a diagram that shows how they were used/ positioned?

    6. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
      I've only seen two reversing devices for sale in nearly 30 years of collecting. I wish I owned one. The great collector Matthew Isenberg had a couple in his collection. I have two fuzzy pictures of devices; one a reflecting mirror mounted on a dag camera and a reversing prism in it's original box. Somewhere in my library I have early ephemera with the devices.
    7. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
      So now I know. Thanks.
    8. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
      Could the Southern photographers have been more advanced at the early stages of the war ? I see CS buckles in many of these pix that are not reversed and don't appear to be staged with accouterments reversed for the camera. I noticed yrs. ago that the usual pix have old (1805-1822) converted muskets, etc. as normal and attribute that to photo props. Very seldom do we see period weapons in these.
    9. scottvez scottvez, 2 years ago
      Post some links to the images you are talking about.

      I have owned a significant number of CS images-- don't recall owning any with non mirrored belt plates. In fact three of the best (CS plate, SC plate and VA plate) were all originally displayed mirrored and all were ambrotypes.

      I do see some CS images with older weapons-- had one NC guy holding a flintlock. They do appear more often than Union soldiers with older weapons, but the majority that I have observed have period (or close) weapons.

    10. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
      A forum: Alabama Pioneers, has been running scores of pix of Confederate soldiers asking if anybody can ID them, as well as known soldiers. That is where I noticed that on some. The South had close European ties, so maybe there were some "fur'in" photographers with the right equip..
    11. scottvez scottvez, 2 years ago
      Post links to a few-- maybe I can shed some light on the actual images.

    12. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
      Not sure I know how Scott, but I'll play with it later. 1st thing I noticed was the lockplates on the right side of the guns.
    13. scottvez scottvez, 2 years ago
      Go to the image and highlite/ copy the internet address from your browser-- just paste it into a posting and it will create an active link to the page.

    14. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
      Scott, ain't going to be that easy. I get something from them everyday & that series started about a mo. ago & ended about a week ago. Let me see if I can figure out how to bring up those posts. Alabama Pioneers is the site. There were probably 8-10 in that series.
    15. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
      Alabama Pioneers
      Five portraits of Confederate Captains – with links to source of pictures
      by Donna R Causey

      FRancis, Captain John Clark, _CoB_30th_Alabama_Infantry_CSA

      Captain John Clark Francis, , C.S.A. (1843-1864) Francis was captain of Co. B, 30th Alabama Infantry from 1862 until promoted to major in Aug. 1863. He was promoted to Lieutenant colonel a few weeks before he was killed at Rocky Face Ridge, Georgia Q4101

      Lester, Captain_John_H_Lester_Company_E_9th_Alabama_Cavalry_CSA Q4726

      Captain John H. Lester, Company E, 9th Alabama Cavalry, C.S.A. From Confederate Veteran Magazine, Volume 13, Number 2, page 66 Q4726

      Turpin, Captain John Henry Company B, 28th Alabama Infantry, C.S.A. (b. 1837) Alabama Q4313

      Captain John Henry Turpin, Company B, 28th Alabama Infantry, C.S.A. (b. 1837) Photographer

      I tried Scott, but the pic didn't show here, just the script. This is from Oct 27th. His swords guard is not reversed, strap on John Brown belt is correct , the CS on the 2 pc. buckle is correct etc.. Alabama Pioneers ran a series, as said, for a week or 2 with pix from the State Archives asking if anybody could ID unmarked pix. I get a mail from them everyday covering AL history and to ask me to locate & post all those pix for you is unrealistic, to say the least. I think this was the last one and I've given you the source. I'm sure you can find them and will be very interested.
    16. scottvez scottvez, 2 years ago
      Here is a link for others with interest:

      My initial look of what I could find shows those with correct (non- mirrored gear) are paper images and made from a negative:

      Lester image looks to be a post- war larger copy image.
      Turpin looks to be cdv (or other paper image).
      Clark looks to be either a paper image or copy image (soft focus).

      I didn't see any lock plates-- only armed guys I found were with sword or revolver. A link to the specific image would help.

    17. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
      Scott, I get one post from that forum every day. I glean them and then delete. Lot of trouble to dig thru all that stuff and then post them here one comment at a time. Why don't you subscribe and go to past posts & get what you want. There are loads of CW pix that I think you would enjoy. Warning: a lot of it is on side threads of the forum. I read way back when, that photographers had their own weapons etc. for props , so the same gun, pistol etc. could be in a lot of pix by the same guy. Makes sense that they would have a flintlock.
    18. scottvez scottvez, 2 years ago
      I don't have that much interest.

      All I found on the site were explainable with image format.

    19. scottvez scottvez, 2 years ago
      Sorry for the posting hijack rob-- pls delete comments, if desired.

    20. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
      No worries, Scott … I like it when a post generates a good, educational discussion. I also looked at some of the images. Agreed most look like paper. One looks like a dag. Regarding website postings, IMO there is a very small possibility that some images are laterally reversed before being put up. Just a thought.

      And … did you see I posted an 1842 dag camera outfit with a reversing mirror? Check:
    21. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 2 years ago
      Got my answers and it was very enlightening. Thanks .
    22. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    23. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    24. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    25. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    26. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    27. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
      Thanks, AntigueToys!
    28. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
      Thanks, Nathaniel.J!
    29. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
      For those interested in understanding why some pictures are reversed laterally (left-to-right), refer to my post that follows up on this:
    30. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    31. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
    32. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago
      Thanks, Licorice1977!
    33. rniederman rniederman, 2 years ago

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