Skip to main content


This is a ferrotype, also known as a tintype or melainotype. From the 1850s, photographs were captured on a thin tin plate covered with black or chocolate-brown paint. The most common size was approximately 12.7 x 17.8 cm (5 x 7 inches). Ferrotypes sometimes came in a simple paper sleeve or frame, but only occasionally. Unlike daguerreotypes (an image on a silver-plated copper sheet), ferrotypes are not reflective.

Many ferrotypes were made by photographers in outdoor locations, with a mobile photo studio – which was often nothing more than a dogcart with a darkroom in a rucksack!

Read more

Trick with a magnet

Framed ferrotypes are sometimes confused with ambrotypes, which are images on glass. A handy tip: if a magnet is attracted to your find, you have a ferrotype.


Did you know …

… ferrotypes were particularly popular at fairs and markets in the late 19th century? This was because it was possible to take lots of photos in a short space of time, and a cheaper option than the ‘instant photos’ on glass of the time.

Met de steun van Vaal nderen en EFRO europees fonds voor regionale ontwikkeling