Another genre of tintypes to collect is the “trickster”. These could be anything from examples like these where the photographer switched heads on bodies in the shot (don’t ask me how, my guess is it involved re-photographing a dissected original) or people dressed in drag, to modern-day ones like someone wearing victorian period costumes but sporting a digital watch or an iPod.
Little loose tintypes like these (approximately 2×3 inches each) are generally a very affordable entree into collecting. These are both probably from the 1890s/early 1900s.
Here are two tintypes that would probably get listed on eBay as “gay interest”. The one appears to me to be pretty obviously a father and son posing in formal wear. The other is much more ambiguous – is it a trio of gay couples? Just six friends stopping by the tintype parlor on a lark? One of the men in the front row appears to be clenching a cigar in his fingers, and two of the men in the front row seem to have some kind of numbers chalked on the soles of their shoes (who knows what it is, if anything). Also very odd is the staging- the men in front look like they’re sitting on the floor, but the men behind them appear to be standing upright, not sitting or kneeling. Are the two men in the front row (left and center) brothers? Inquiring minds want to know!
Last but not least, aren’t you glad swimwear has evolved since the 1880s? How’d you like to go for a dip in the ocean and have to wear that stuff? It’s bad enough when your swim trunks dry out and get salty – imagine that feeling all over! And how long would it take for what looks like wool to dry after a thorough immersion in salt water? You’d be as likely to catch pneumonia from the swimsuit!
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Yes, wool was a standard bathing suit fabric. It was important that the fabric not become transparent when wet. I’ve read that, back in the day, weights were even sewn into the suits to keep the women’s skirts from billowing up in the water. And for a time, women were essentially limited (by convention and by their cumbersome suits) to wading through the waves while holding on to a rope attached to the shore. For as much as I suffer from body image issues some days, I would much rather wear today’s swimming trunks than one of those old monstrosities. 🙂