Pioneering photography collector Robert Jackson wrote recently to tip me off to a few interesting tintypes available on eBay, so I bought them. Mr. Jackson, who is largely responsible for the vintage vernacular photography field had his staggering snapshot photo collection documented by no less than the National Gallery of Art and Princeton University Press five years ago now with THE ART OF THE AMERICAN SNAPSHOT 1888 - 1978. The lovely book is still available and still essential. When Robert told me "you can't go wrong" with the price on these photos, I thought the same about his book. You can't go wrong. It is 300 solid pages of extraordinary images and smart essays, worth every penny and more.
As for the tintypes, they look mundane enough until you look behind the sitters. My interest in tintype photography lies in the plight of traveling folk art portrait painters when they were replaced by the invention of the camera. I attempt to prove they simply went on to paint backdrops instead in THE PAINTED BACKDROP: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography. As far as I know, still the only examination into what was in virtually every one of the millions of tintypes taken in a studio...a painting! It is now available as an ebook for only $5.99, which is good, as the photographs look even better on your ipad.