Monday, 11 March 2013

Seaside Tintypes:

I went along to the London Photo Fair the other day. My heart wasn't really in it and I got there way too late but I did manage to pick up this nice seaside tintype for my ongoing research. Its hard to tell whether it really is an actual Tintype-taken-on-or-near-a-seaside but it was labelled as such and I think I see sand in the foreground and beach huts in the background. As with many seaside Tintypes - poor conditions, equipment, chemicals, etc - this didn't really speak to me 'til I scanned it in and started doing the old Blade Runner on it and it is really quite a nice image. Its a shame that many of these will never really be appreciated in their original state as to the naked eye they are just too murky, dark and/or fuzzy.

Here are a few more from my collection or whose images have been kindly lent to me for my research.

Probably 1870s. Kindly lent by James Downs.

1870s-1890s. Kindly lent by Paul Godfrey.

As can be seen in the next couple itinerants were more prevalent on the beaches of England well into the 30s and 40s until the film 'snappers' and 'walkies' started to come in (and that is a whole other area of study, namely the ever helpful Mr. Paul Godfrey's). These guys would have been old itinerants who most likely learnt their trade decades before. It is interesting that this short-lived format lasted so long on the beaches of England and Scotland (particularly Scotland for some reason), but as you can see from these, the results at the time were pretty shoddy - mostly due to using the cheapest of materials and chemicals - and they haven't aged the images well.

It seems that at some point in the 1920s somebody started marketing these card-stock sleeves and selling them to the tintypists. Whenever I find a seaside tintype dating after the '20s it will unfailingly have the same style card stock, even with the same designs.

Kindly lent by Paul Godfrey.

These later ones are ugly little things, but they stand as a precursor to the period when everyone had a Kodak or equivalent and for that they plug an interesting gap in our social history and of the little explored subject of the history of leisure in this country. As can be seen, these guys were opportunists, snapping people siting along piers or on the pebbles. I've even seen some of these that don't look like they were taken anywhere near a beach, but still fit into the category of leisure/holidays in some way.

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