Saturday, 14 May 2011

Negative taking on positive in America and the Tintype

An inauspicious form of photography, the Tintype is an exclusively 19th century American phenomenon that provided extraordinary insight into the political upheavals of the American Civil War. Not only was it popularised by it's use to create political campaign buttons in the 1860s, it was also a low cost photography method that was widely marketed as affordable, portable, unique, and available almost everywhere.

This new addition to our book selection at Material, America and the Tintype gives a wonderful overview of the decline of Victorian middle classes in America and the rise of prosperity and leisure time. Many of the images collated for this book were all unidentified photographers documenting a wealth of images of the 19th century working classes and presenting wonderful documentation of the development of national attitudes and characteristics in the formative years of the early modern era. The book presents the life of those form various walks including bellringers, minstrels, a butcher, and a blind girl. Their image is captured by this dramatic form of photography providing a startlingly candid record of the political upheavals that rocked the four decades following the American Civil War, and the personal anxieties they induced.

As the Tintype studio was also said to have become a place for the public to role play and perform many responses to this photographic medium clearly defined leisurely humorous staged shenanigans of masked men in mock sword fights, men staging a robbery and saloon brawls. This, in turn, creates a fascinating study of the first truly democratic form of photographic portraiture where people openly displayed their individuality.

Produced in hardback ?? £32 // 272 pages // 200 colour plates
This title is available in store and shortly, online