Antique Tintype Photographs



2015-06-26 11:18:08

Antique Tintype Photographs are original 19th century photographs using an early method of photography.


Brief history and description

Tintype is an early form of photograph created by projecting a positive onto a piece of iron sheeting/metal, followed by a process of enamelling or painting. The process originated in the 1800’s (the first patent was obtained in 1856), and varied from other early photographic forms as it was the only one to use iron plates.

The photographs represent one of the earliest forms of accessible photography, as the tintype photographic form was both durable and relatively fast, allowing a quick turn-over of images as the photographs were created within a matter of minutes.

Guide for collectors

Tintypes are immensely popular and in many ways very personal collectables, available at widely variable price points. The photographs are viewed by enthusiasts as a piece of captured history, and are widely available through a number of different sources.

Not only are tintype photographs available from mainstream and specialist auctioneers, but also from a wide variety of online sources, including online auctioneer eBay.


The highest price paid at auction for a tintype photograph is $2,000,000, for a lot comprised of a Billy the Kid tintype alongside several tintypes of Dan Dedrich. The lot sold from Brian Lebel’s Old West Auction on 25th June 2011.

Tintype photographs can sell for high prices at auction, often reaching several thousand pounds, particularly if the photographs are of historical figures or of great historical or cultural significance, as with the aforementioned sale.

Large collections of tintype photographs also sell for higher prices than singular photographs, as with the sale of an entire set of photographs of the Llewelyn Davies family, which auctioned for $48,000 from Sotheby’s in London on 16th December 2004.

On 25th September 2004, a lot comprised of 75 tintype images of women auctioned from Early American auctioneers for just $75, giving an individual sale price per photograph of $1.

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