Tintype is a piece of Henry History

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By Brad Bowman

Tintype photographs populated the personal landscape of the Civil War era and most of the mid to late 1800s. 

A Henry County resident recently purchased a tintype with the name of a Henry County resident Rosa (Rose) Timoney Hermans. Octacvia Tacy Lewis gave birth to Timoney in 1854 in Athens, Ohio. Timoney married James Hermans and lived in Eminence. Hermans died Feb. 11, 1932, in Henry County. No further photographic evidence can be found to ascertain whether the person in the tintype matches the same county resident named on the tintype’s paper case.

Philip Gowan bought a lot of photos at an auction in Darlington, S.C., including the tintype with Timoney’s name inscribed on it. Gowan attempted to determine where Timoney came from and didn’t do any more research afterwards before listing it for sale on the Internet. Anyone with any information or Hermans family photographs please contact the newsroom.

According to the Metropolitan Museum, the tintype, an image on an iron sheet, and an ambrotype, a positive image on glass, started competing with the French Daguerreotype, an image on a silver-plated copper sheet as early as the 1820s.

Frenchmen Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre — painter, printmaker and proprietor of the Diorama, an almost three-dimensional effect using front and back lighting — patented the Daguerreotype. Daguerre’s process involved suspending an image with salt water that had been developed in mercury fumes on an iodine-vapor treated copper sheet plated with silver. The tintype process gained popularity for its low cost and efficient turn around for photographers to their patrons.

Hamilton L. Smith of Gambier, Ohio, patented the process in 1856. According to research from Collections Services Division of the Ohio Historical Society, the negative image captured by a camera would be put on a lacquered iron sheet of metal —not tin. The tintype continued in use up to the 1930s throughout the United States. To distinguish whether an image is a tintype or an ambrotype, use a magnet to see if the iron sheet is attracted to it.

Anyone with any family information including pictures on the Hermans please contact the Henry County Local at news@hclocal.com or call (502) 845-2858