That Sixties Look

July 27, 2021 - Comment

Since the heyday of the tintype photo was the period between 1856 and 1867, it’s safe to say these men are wearing sixties fashions. You wouldn’t have seen these in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district during the summer of love, though. When hippies went retro, they tended to favor the Wild West. Something tells me this

Since the heyday of the tintype photo was the period between 1856 and 1867, it’s safe to say these men are wearing sixties fashions.

You wouldn’t have seen these in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district during the summer of love, though. When hippies went retro, they tended to favor the Wild West. Something tells me this trio’s knowledge of frontier life was limited to what they read in Harpers Weekly.

In attempting to research the hat worn by the striking man on the left I discovered how little information is available on line about the history of men’s hats.

The limiting factor might be the damned Bing search engine that has taken over my computer. If I could break through to Google I might have more productive search results.

In any case, I have identified the hat as a bowler hat, but there’s something about its curves and shallowness that sets it apart from the bowlers one sees in the hundreds and thousands in photos from the late 19th and early 20th century.

In a perfect world I know not only the name of that specific style of hat but also full information about all the other garments, including the dates they were in fashion, whether any features are specific to a region and what they say about the wearer’s socioeconomic status.

Tintype photos are remarkable because the chemicals that make the image were once in direct optical contact with the subject. They’re not copies of copies. A tintype is an embodied memory.

I spied a set tintypes stacked one atop the other at the local antique mall last week. One of them is in my Flickr photo stream, photographed through the glass of the display counter. Not long after that I realized they merited a closer look. Having seen them, I knew I had to have them.

How often do we have such close encounters with people during a moment that took place 160 years or so ago?

The heyday of the tintype came and went quite rapidly. Sources agree that the 1860s and 1870s were the tintype era. Some give an even narrower window, noting that the technology was introduced in 1856 and was popular until 1867, when a process for producing images on paper was created.

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