Affectionate Gentlemen Tintype

Here’s another tintype, also acquired today, that fits into that “gay interest” category because it shows two men being physically affectionate. Once more, I will stress that there is NO WAY to know the meaning of the gesture: it was much more acceptable in that day and age for two male friends to hold hands as a sign of friendship. These two look like they could very well be brothers. That aside, it’s an excellent example of a hand-tinted tintype showing a slice of Victorian culture in America. I wonder what’s going on with the one white sock, or is it a single white spat, on the gentleman with crossed legs. This is where the intrigue builds – it could be just that he lost one on the way to the studio, or he got one dirty and decided that only having one looked better than having one clean and one dirty. Or he was absentminded and put on one white sock and one dark one, kind of like Albert Einstein. Or, it could be an 1860’s/1870’s code to indicate something about the relationship between the two men. Without knowing historical referents, it’s an exercise in making interpretive leaps from fragmentary, inconclusive evidence.

Two Affectionate Gentlemen, Tintype
Two Affectionate Gentlemen, Tintype

4 thoughts on “Affectionate Gentlemen Tintype”

  1. Can’t stop searching for the story behind this one. How big is this picture. The clarity and detail is wonderful for a tintype. I love the slightly reddened cheeks. DO you think that the man on the right could be lbind and the gent with the top hat his guide?

    1. It’s about the same size as a CDV – 6cm x 10cm (2.5 inches x 4 inches). Anything is possible in these photos – your scenario could be, although the similarity of attire suggests to me some other relationship. I think brothers or some other non-familial fraternal association is more likely.

      1. Blinking is highly likely the cause. Typical wet plate exposures ran multiple seconds, so if it were a relatively fast one, the blink would have recorded.

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