This sixth-plate tintype image depicts a Civil War soldier posing in a studio setting against a photography backdrop that includes a tinted United States flag.
A very good, clear image, the photographer’s background scene shows a Civil War camp with a raised American flag, colored with red and blue. Unfortunately, like so many, this uniformed soldier remains unidentified.
The sixth-plate (sometimes called a “bon-ton”) is among the most common tintypes produced and measures (roughly) 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ inches. The tintype first appeared around 1856 and had its hey-dey during the 1860s – 1870s. Perhaps surprisingly, tintypes were actually still available in certain venues well into the 20th century.
Tintypes were recognized as an affordable image available for everyone, a completely new concept at the time. Produced on relatively inexpensive iron, for instance, coated with black or brown enamel, the little pieces of “tin” were durable and very inexpensive. This made tintypes widely available and plentiful – today, it is still easy to discover tintypes of all subject matters available at auction.