Tintype, about 1890
The National Museum of American History's photographic history collection includes more than three thousand tintypes, also known as ferrotypes, an inexpensive and popular format used in the second half of the nineteenth century. Many are unidentified studio portraits acquired from private collectors and antique dealers, such as this picture of an African American couple, part of a collection of twenty tintypes acquired in 1976. These anonymous images were collected to represent the medium's technical and cultural history rather than tell a specific personal story.
African American History, Photography