|1/6th Plate Tintype or Ferrotype
2 3/8 Inches by 3 3/8 Inches
(6.1cm x 8.7cm)
Unknown Location - Possibly Canada
|...of Canadian origin is based on the frequency that this type of image was produced in various parts of the British Empire. A stated elsewhere in
this website, tintypes never achieved a level of popularity in Britain that came anywhere near what the process gained in North America. While
British tintypes might even be considered rare they are one of the most common photographic types from the mid-19th Century North America
(Canada and the U.S.) encountered in the collector's market. This, coupled with the fact that this specific image was found in upstate New York
lends to the possibility of it having originated in Canada. Given this, it is possible that the image originated in New York but laking a photographer's
name that will probably always remain a mystery.
Looking at the image itself it is clear that this man appears to be wearing his medals on his right breast in much the same manner as was common
with non-military award such as life saving medals. This is actually not the case and his medals are in fact being worn on his left breast as specified
by army regulations. This seeming inconsistency is actually the result of the technical process used in the production of these types of images.
Tintypes did not make use of a negative as other processes did but produced the image directly on a sensitized metal plate inside the camera. This
resulted in an image that is "flipped" or "mirrored". This specific image is shown below reversed to allow for a corrected view if this former soldier.
|Looking at this man's medals there are several possibilities as to which campaign he may have taken part in. The center most and earliest medal
with the ornate suspender looks to be either an India General Service Medal (1854) or the 1877-79 South Africa Medal. It is impossible to tell
which as the medal planchetes are indistinct and the ribbons colors can not be made out. Another of the strange idiosyncrasies of some 19th
Century photographic processes that medal ribbons that were actually light can appear very dark and dark ribbons light. The second medal with
the straight bar suspender and no clasps could be for instance a number of different medals but many of these can be ruled out since they were not
issued with at least one clasp. While the Egypt Medal (1882-89) was issued without clasps the fact that this old soldier is not wearing the Egyptian
Khedive's Star would probably rule this medal out. This seems to a few other possibilities for the second medal - the Ashantee Medal (1874), the
Afghan War Medal (1881), or the North West Canada Medal (1885).
Logically the most likely combination would be the India General Service Medal and the Afghan War Medal. Less likely (based solely on numbers
issued) would be the Ashantee Medal and the 1877-79 South Africa Medal. This would place all of his service on the African continent. The
romantic in me would like to think of this man wearing the 1877-79 South Africa Medal for service during the Anglo-Zulu War and then having
returned to Canada to see action during Reil's Rebellion in 1885 and earning the North West Canada Medal.
One other detail is very evident in this photograph which may or may not be linked to his days on campaign with that being the very large and
prominent scar that runs across this man's right cheek. The source of the scar, like much else in the photograph will probably always remain a
|Left: a detail of the above
photograph showing this veteran's
medals and the large scar that
crosses his right cheek.