A carpenter saws a plank.

Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Herbert Mitchell

The tintype photographic process was patented in 1856, and its popularity swept through the United States in the following years. As the least expensive form of photographic portraiture, tintypes constituted most American’s first experience with photography or the portrait studio.

These photographs were sturdy, long-lasting and quick to produce, only taking a few minutes to shoot, develop and deliver. Because there was no photographic negative incorporated into the process, tintypes were unreproducible — each image was entirely unique. Read more…

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Late 1800s workers pose with the tools of their trades