Random Images: Rare Tintype of African-American Father and Daughter

(Last Updated On July 23, 2023)

A reader contributed this beautiful image. It was sourced from the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and has few identifying details except it is from the 1870s (catalog number 94.521). The original tintype would have been a negative and so was converted into the form you see here. An image like this is rare because it comes from the era of early photography and quality portraits of African-Americans would have been especially rare because of the cost at a time of disenfranchisement so soon after the official end of chattel slavery in the US.

Untitled tintype from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art collection(1870s) [94.521]

[Strictly speaking, the relationship between the man and girl portrayed here is purely speculative. -Ron]

3 thoughts on “Random Images: Rare Tintype of African-American Father and Daughter

  1. Tintypes were (and still are) not made from negatives. More precisely, the image you see is on a very thin negative emulsion coated on a blackened piece of metal. It is a unique image, reversed (like a mirror) and must be rephotographed to make a copy.

    • Thank you for clarifying. I only read a brief account about how tintypes work and I must have misunderstood or it was not a reliable account. Thanks again, -Ron

  2. Absolutely wonderful! I suspect there were actually quite a number of early photos of African Americans like this, but tragically not enough effort was made to preserve them by later generations, for a wide number of reasons.

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