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William and Peter Neff manufactured the iron used for the plates, which they called ‘melainotype plates’.
A rival manufacturer, Victor Griswold, made a similar product and called them ‘ferrotype plates’.
This, along with the resilience and cheapness of the medium (iron, rather than glass), meant that ferrotypes soon replaced collodion positives as the favourite ‘instant’ process used by itinerant photographers.
The ferrotype process was described in 1853 by Adolphe-Alexandre Martin, but it was first patented in 1857 by Hamilton Smith in America, and by Willian Kloen and Daniel Jones in England.
It was blackened by painting, lacquering or enamelling, and coated with a collodion photographic emulsion.
The dark background gave the resulting image the appearance of a positive.
Unlike collodion positives, ferrotypes did not need mounting in a case to produce a positive image.
A young boy poses for his photograph at Epsom Derby, 1947, William Jones, Science Museum Group collection.
Gem portraits were commonly stored in special albums with provision for a single portrait per page. Some Gems were cut to fit lockets, cufflinks, tie pins, rings and even garter clasps. Itinerant photographers frequently brought the tintype to public gatherings, such as fairs and carnivals.They are a very dark grey-black and the image quality is often poor.Case Ferrotypes were sometimes put into cheap papier-mâché cases or cardboard mounts, but today they are frequently found loose.I found this article on the Internet and thought that some of you who appreciate (and maybe even have a few) old photographs laying around in cardboard boxes or in desk drawers might like to read some tips on ways to try to put a date on when they might have been brass decorative frame.This sealed packet was then force fit into a special wood case and was often padded with velvet or silk. The first step was to make a negative image on a light sensitive paper.