Skip to main content

Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, and Other Imagery: Tintypes

Tintypes from the John D. MacDonald Papers

Hugh and Catherine MacDonald

John Dann MacDonald was born July 24, 1916 in Sharon, Pennsylvania. While attending Syracuse School of Business, MacDonald met Dorothy Prentiss, and they were married in 1937. He went on to attend Harvard Business School and received an M.B.A. in 1939.

MacDonald first visited Florida in 1949, and after spending winters in the Clearwater and Sarasota area, bought a house in 1952 on Point Crisp, Sarasota, and lived there until 1969, when he and Dorothy moved into a new home built for them on Siesta Key. He is best known for his series of detective novels featuring the protagonist Travis McGee, and is acknowledged as a master of the adventure-thriller genre.

Within the John D. MacDonald Papers, there are six tintype portraits of MacDonald family members from the nineteenth century. Featured above is the tintype of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh MacDonald, John D. MacDonald's grandparents.

Damage to Tintypes

Although tintypes are less fragile than daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, these images are still susceptible to damage. The thin metal plate can rust, and the tintype plates are often found with minor to major dents. When handling tintypes, it is best to wear latex gloves because the oils from fingers can possibly damage the photographic emulsion.

This tintype of Mr. & Mrs. Hugh MacDonald features a thumb print.

Damage to Tintypes

This tintype, featuring a relative of John MacDonald, demonstrates a scratched and chipped surface that commonly occurs to tintypes. There is also some visible wear on the top right corner, possibly from fingertips, and some more scratches in the bottom right corner.

Below is a closer look at the chipped emulsion in the lower left area. The image of the floor is clearly chipped away to reveal the black paint that coats the tintype.

University of Florida Home Page

This page uses Google Analytics - (Google Privacy Policy)

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.