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Case Ferrotypes were sometimes put into cheap papier-mâché cases or cardboard mounts, but today they are frequently found loose.
Size Most ferrotypes are fairly small, about 2×3 inches.
Using a four lens array 16 gems could be produced on a quarter plate, and 32 on a half plate.
A nine lens version of the camera was also produced that could produce up to 36 gems on a 5" x 7" plate.
The term ‘ferrotype’ was in common use, but the public tended to prefer the less formal ‘tintype’, implying the cheap, tinny feeling of the material.
Material These were made using a thin sheet of iron coated with black enamel and can be identified using a magnet.
This, along with the resilience and cheapness of the medium (iron, rather than glass), meant that ferrotypes soon replaced collodion positives as the favourite ‘instant’ process used by itinerant photographers.
The ferrotype process was described in 1853 by Adolphe-Alexandre Martin, but it was first patented in 1857 by Hamilton Smith in America, and by Willian Kloen and Daniel Jones in England.
Like regular cartes de visite, the tintype carte and even unmounted tintypes produced in the United States were required to carry a tax stamp between 1864-66 which can assist in dating of these photographs. A patent for a multiplying back camera was granted to William Southworth of New Castle, Maine on June 17, 1862.This enabled the image to be mounted in carte de visite albums although small albums specifically designed to fit one, two, four or six gems to the page directly were also produced.Unmounted gems usually sold from 10 cents per dozen and around 50 cents per dozen with mounts Similarly mounts were also developed so that ninth plate and sixth plate tintypes (usually slightly trimmed on the sides) could also be placed in carte de visite albums.Rust spots Because they are made on thin sheets of iron, ferrotypes often show evidence of rust spots or blisters on the surface where the enamel has started to lift off." to 1" wide and 1" high made possible by the use of a multi-lens camera with repeating back which therefore could produce multiple exposures on a single photographic plate.