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Cowboy Tintypes

A tintype is a photograph created on a thin sheet of iron, not on a sheet of tin as the name implies. Tintype photos were in frequent use in the USA during the 1860s and their popularity continued for several decades. Some of the most well-known tintype photos from early eras include photos of cowboys and outlaws as well as scenes from the American West and the Civil War. Today, some tintypes are highly collectible and therefore sell for impressive sums, while others are affordable for almost anyone. Below are tintype photos featuring cowboys, horses, or outlaws for sale on eBay. For more information about tintype photos, please scroll down beneath the cowboy tintypes for sale.

Below: This is a well known tintype photo, circa 1892, of five members of the Wild Bunch outlaw gang. For more information on this photo please scroll down.

Tintype photo

This photo is in the public domain in the United States: PD-US.


See more cowboy tintypes on eBay


About Tintype Photos

The tintype photograph rose to prominence in the United States in the 1860s. Compared to other photographic methods of the time (such as the ambrotype and the daguerreotype) the tintype was comparatively fast and easy to make. In addition, the resulting photo was more durable and didn't require being placed in a protective case like the other two methods. Note: While tintypes didn't require being placed in a protective case some people chose to do so out of habit or aesthetics.

At first tintypes were primarily taken in photographic studios, but they soon became widely used outside the studio as well. The equipment and supplies needed to create a tintype could be easily transported (comparatively speaking, at least), the process was typically affordable to a wide range of people, and the tintype photograph itself was durable. Tintype photography captured many unique moments in American history.

The photo below was taken at a county fair in May, 1903. The description with the photo reads: "Photograph shows photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston, with women and men outside a tent offering tintype portraits, at a county fair. Sign next to tent reads 'Frances Benjamin Johnston, tintypes.' "

A woman selling tintypes

Photo from the Library of Congress.. No known restrictions. Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-J713- 4931.

You may have noticed that many of the people, and even the animals, in a tintype photo look stiffly posed or even rigid. That's because exposure times with tintype photos are slow (several seconds) and any movement would create blur in the resulting image. Therefore, photographers often encouraged their subjects to remain as still as possible while the photo was being taken.


Good Things To Know Before Buying Tintype Photos

Below are good things to know before buying tintype photos on the Web or anywhere else.

While some sellers of highly collectible cowboy tintypes or other items on eBay have had numerous transactions and therefore a lot of feedback, it's not uncommon to find sellers who only sell an occasional item that is rare or highly collectible. In a case like this a seller may have had only a few transactions and therefore very little feedback. Just make sure that any seller you consider doing business with has very good feedback as a seller, even if it's only a small amount.

Many people have successfully and happily purchased all kinds of items on eBay. It has become a terrific place for buyers and sellers from all areas of the country and the world to sell and buy items like cowboy tintypes that they wouldn't otherwise have access to. As with any transaction on or offline, though, make sure you thoroughly research the item you're interested in as well as the seller offering it for sale.


About That Famous Wild Bunch Tintype Photo

This well known tintype photo of five members of the notorious Wild Bunch outlaw gang, circa 1892, is from the photographic collection of famed Old West photographer Camillus S. Fly (1849-1901). The Wild Bunch was famous for robberies in the American West during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Pictured, clockwise, from the top left: Kid Curry (Harvey Logan), Bill McCarty, Bill (Tod) Carver, Ben Kilpatrick, and Tom O'Day.

Members of the Wild Bunch photographed on tintype

This photo is in the public domain in the United States: PD-US.


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