A tintype of two men boxing, for your consideration.
I’m attracted to this image by virtue of the slight motion blur captured in their pose – their hands and faces are a little soft from the 1+ second exposure. I suppose this could theoretically be an occupational tintype in that they may be boxers, although they’re rather formally dressed for athletes. I suspect this is just another case of two friends having a lark in the photographers’ studio. There’s probably a lost backstory to the picture – perhaps an inside joke about friends or siblings who were always fighting? Or perhaps it was a photographers’ study.
This is an unusually packaged tintype of three shopkeepers, one with a broom. I have more than good reason to suspect that the image is not original to the packet in which it resides – the packet itself is very oddly assembled, with the brass frame in four separate sections held together by a strangely still elastic string.The packet itself consists of the cover glass, the brass passepartout, the tintype, and a very thick backing glass that appears to have been blackened at one point with some kind of varnish that has faded and flaked off in spots over the intervening century and a half. The varnished back glass would suggest that it had been originally paired with a clear glass ambrotype. However, a clear glass ambrotype would have been thicker than the tintype, and the packet as is barely fits inside the brass frame. Altogether, a mystery of how this particular ensemble came to be assembled as it currently stands.
I went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania today, as much to get out of the house while we still had nice weather (I think it was nearly 70F for the high today, even if a bit overcast!) as anything else. My parents had been up there a couple weeks ago, and told me about this one antiques shop that they thought was worth visiting. The shop not only had a much better than usual bin of “instant ancestors” (more on that in a minute), but they also had an amazing display of (surprisingly reasonably priced) other Civil War -era photos (dags, cased tins, and cased ambrotypes) and a veritable museum worth of vintage rifles, muskets, pistols, swords, cannonballs, uniforms and paraphernalia (canteens, insignia, and so on). I picked up a quartet of “instant ancestors”, and had my eye on three others that were in the box but not bargain priced. Over in the big glass display case with all the high-ticket cased images of identified soldiers both Union and Confederate, there was this occupational tintype, complete with embossed leather case:
I’m showing it here out of its case because I scanned the tintype on my flatbed scanner while I had the packet apart to clean the cover glass (some idiot decided to stick the price tag to the cover glass with cellophane tape that was not a “magic” residue-free tape). This one was a minor splurge as I’m trying to keep myself to a budget, but given the overall quality I felt it was well worth it.
As to the subject matter – does anyone have any idea what profession these gentlemen might have? My first thought was butcher, but they don’t seem to be wielding any butcher’s knives or have any of their product with them. My second thought went to baker, but again, no bread in the photo, and I’ve seen bakers before holding bread. Perhaps greengrocers? Shop clerks? The aprons are rather long for general store clerks, I think, but I’m not an expert on 19th century tradesmens uniforms.