Consanguinity: (kŏn'săng-gwĭn'ĭtē) , relationship by blood, whether linear or collateral.

Primarily concentrating on my Browning family from Harrison County, Ohio (and their subsequent move to Crawford County, Illinois) but I've got Plymell, Crago, Eagleton, Garrard, McConnell, Nichols, Swan, Nevitt, Huls, Markee, Depperman, Papstein/Popstein and Hamilton in there too. And that's just the beginning......

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday - "The Mystery Photo" Updates

I took a magnet to the back of the mystery photo (see previous post) and it stuck so there's no further doubt -- it's a ferrotype. I feel very satisfied dating it to c1892.

Brett Payne of Photo Sleuth commented on my previous post about the photo. He says, "If you examine the photograph's surface with a lens or microscope you may be able to detect differences in the behavior of the painted and photographic media, such as the degree of cracking/crazing, which could help you decide one way or another."

I don't have a microscope to place the picture under for study but I do have a magnifying glass. I wasn't able to see all that much with it but I didn't see any differences in the degree of cracking from the background to the foreground. It's pretty uniform until you get to an area just above the "steeple." From there, and stretching to the top of the photo, there is a much tighter crackling pattern. I believe that is simply wear -- that area has some of the top coating worn off and it shows its age there more than anywhere else on the plate.

Brett also mentions that full-plate tintypes are much rarer than their smaller counterparts. I was very interested in that since I have two of these full plate tintypes -- the 6.5 x 9 one I featured yesterday and another that measures 6.5 x 8.5 and is a picture of my 4th-g-grandfather Joseph Nichols. I've spotlighted that picture on this blog before and you can find it right here if you're curious (and make sure to click on the picture and you'll get a closer view!) Joseph's picture is eerie in its "realness" -- it is sharp and clear and the detailing is fantastic. It's like he's standing in the room beside me.

Neither of these tintypes have cases, unfortunately. I've placed both in archival sleeves and handle them as little as possible, always with gloves!


  1. Yes, it sounds like they must be full-plate tintypes. Some were sold cased in similar wooden, thermoplastic, gutta percha or pressed cardboard frames to those used for ambrotypes and daguerreotypes, but many were always loose or in simple paper sleeves, as they were considerably cheaper this way. The very small "gem" tintypes were occasionally sold in a specially designed album. I have one of these in my collection, and you can see it here.

    It's difficult for me to really comment on the "painted background" without seeing it for myself ... your call.

    Regards and best wishes, Brett

  2. Brett...what do I need to do to let you "see it for yourself?" :D

  3. Can you arrange for me to win the lottery, please? Then I'll be happy to make house calls. :-) What I meant was that it will have to be up to your judgement whether it is part of the original photograph or an embellishment. Perhaps a scan at something like 1200 dpi would help? Regards, Brett

  4. I'll try to see about getting you a lottery win, but I'm afraid that'll have to take a backseat to one-on-one interviews with all my ancestors -- since we're indulging in wishes here, ha!

    Seriously, thanks for the clarification since I'd misunderstood you. I had brief panicky visions of shipping my photo overseas and standing at the post office gripping it, shaking my head when they tried to take it from me. Hee!

    So yes, of course I can do a 1200 dpi scan. I'll try to post that as soon as I can....