top of page

Half Cased 1/9th Plate Tintype
Unknown Photographer
Western United States
c. 1870

Wearing an elaborately embroidered bib of shield front shirt and armed with a holstered Smith & Wesson Model No. 1 revolver this rather gaunt Western type was photographed around 1870 at some long-forgotten location.

His chosen method of self-defense the Smith & Wesson No. 1 revolver was manufactured between 1857 and 1882 and was the first revolver to successfully utilize metallic cartridges - in this case, a rather anemic .22 short rimfire round. The speed at which this revolver could be reloaded when compare to contemporary cap and ball revolvers outweighed its lack of stopping power.

The shirt that this man wears has become one of the iconic garments of the Old West. The shirt's "shield" and collar are decorated in the flamboyant style popular with cowboys and gunfighters on the western frontier. Quite often manufactured in the one-size-fits-most manner his shirt was no exception and has cloth bands or ribbons holding up the sleeves. In Hollywood depictions of the Old West women's garters are usually performing this mundane function.

One easy-to-miss detail is the pinky ring that this man is wearing on his left hand. These rings seem to have been popular in the Old West with the likes of Billy the Kid being seen wearing one in his only confirmed photograph.

Cased images are difficult to scan or rephotograph due to the dimensionality of the case and the reflective nature of the protective cover glass. Removed from the case for assessment and conservation (below) the image shines with remarkable detail and clarity.

Old No 1 .png
bottom of page