Tintypes from the Chelsea Fleamarket

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My recent trip to New York helped me understand the deep connection between the wet collodion process and American history and identity.  I visited an excellent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, Photography and The Civil War, which was composed entirely of wet collodion derived images.  Among them images that tell the story of Lincoln’s presidency, from the hustings through to the execution of his assassins.  The exhibition illustrates a nascent medium discovering and forming modes which endure today.


Enthused by the exhibition imagery, I didn’t need much encouragement to snap up some tintype souvenirs form a later visit to the Chelsea fleamarket.

I couldn’t resist this image because the sitters look so comtemporary.  It has a typical clarity which makes it difficult to believe the moment captured wasn’t today but approximately one hundred and fifty years ago.  It would be very satisfying to find out more about the sitters or indeed photographer, but also quite unlikely.  It is maybe enough to think that it was taken at a time when America and photography as we know them today were forming.


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