‘Remember Us?’; A Vast Collection of 150 19thC Tinplate Portrait Photographs c.1850-1900
Period: Early, Mid & Late Victorian
Average Size: 3.25” x 2.5”
Each Strand: 94” high (approximately)
The massive collection of 150 of tintype photographs of mixed sizes and tints, spanning the entire Victorian period, each showing a range of intimate portraits of interior scenes, couples, gentleman and ladies, mothers, children and infants, widows, grandfathers, musicians and tradesmen from England, each of the nine groups strung on clear wire with old lead weights and presented as a fascinating installation.
The condition of each photograph varies but they are generally good with some part decayed and others pristine. Each example has had four holes drilled to it to allow it to be mounted. Some of portraits have markings verso for various studios. More details of the condition of each individual portrait are available on request. The vintage lead fishing weights are of differing sizes and keep the displays facing any which way desired.
The tintype photograph saw more uses and captured a wider variety of settings and subjects than any other photographic type. It’s like the elderly grandfather that saw everything. It was introduced while the daguerreotype was still popular, though its primary competition would have been the ambrotype.
In America the tintype saw the Civil War come and go, documenting the individual soldier and horrific battle scenes. It captured scenes from the Wild West, as it was easy to produce by itinerate photographers working out of covered wagons. It began losing artistic and commercial ground to higher quality albumen prints on paper in the mid-1860s, yet survived for well over another 40 years, living mostly as a carnival novelty.
Tints can range from red rouge cheeks and lips, gold jewellery, watches, Victorian era chatelaines, clothes, buttons, pendants, and mourning and hair jewelry can be found with small swatches of hand coloring, which gives a wonderful hint of richness to the image. Tinting became very popular and is evident on this group.
Rather than leaving such a wonderful collection in a dusty album that never sees the light of day, this proves a unique and fascinating installation that never grows tiresome, being hugely versatile in in terms of its display, as we delve into the lives of our ancestors with each glance, their lives, literally, hanging by a thread.
Remember by Christina Rossetti
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Please see our short film on this wonderful installation here.