Thursday, September 23, 2010

Copying Tintypes

[A story of persistence and luck - submitted by CCGS member Barbara Knisell]

Several years ago I had a local photography studio make prints from three large tintypes of my great-great grandparents and their son-in-law (my great grandfather) so that my sister and I could each have a set. Now that I’m making up albums for my two cousins, I wanted to give each of them a set of three. I decided it might be less expensive to have my local Staples do the job.

The first person I spoke to tried to print one. All she got was a black image and gave up. I went back a second day and asked a young man if he could do the job. He said it would be better if I took the tintypes to a photo shop.

When I took them to a local photo shop the employee started asking what size I’d like? I said, “ I would like them the size they are already." He started to measure them and came up with a price of $15 each. I told him I was making up albums for my cousins, so I would need six pictures altogether. I wasn’t going to spend that much and said, “Thank you, anyway.”

Great-great grandmother Isabella Quin Dimock.
Thinking about what I was going to do next, it dawned on me that I could just bring the prints that the photography studio had made to Staples and have copies made from those.

It was late on a Saturday afternoon when I took my prints into Staples. There was yet another person working in the copy area. When I showed her the prints, she asked me if I had the tintypes with me, which I didn’t. She said she’d like to work with the originals. I related my experiences with the previous employees. She told me that she’d worked for Staples for ten years and she had printed out images from tintypes in the past.

I then went home to have supper and pick up the tintypes to take back for “April” to do her thing! At 69 cents a copy, she did the job just as I’d wanted ! “April” works there only on Saturdays.

The picture shown above is a scanned version of the copy made at Staples from the original tintype. It shows my great-great grandmother Isabella Quin Dimock, who was born in Buffalo, NY on October 16, 1831. She died in Toronto, Canada on April 26, 1914. I'm guessing the tintype was taken somewhere in the 1860's or early 1870's.

Share your experience copying tintypes by adding a comment.


  1. That's a GREAT story, Barbara!! Persistence pays off!

  2. Barbara, I would suggest the date to be late 1850s. The reason why is the gilded ear rings and her dress. Also, the woman appears to my eye not to be more than 25 years old.

  3. Thanks Max for your suggestions. I appreciate it. I'm not very knowledgable about clothing of the 1800s.

  4. I know I'm over 2 years late but I scan my tintypes on an Epson 4990 flatbed scanner and they come out great. I scan them in color mode to keep the original "look" of the tintypes. John