|1/4 Plate Tintype
Southwest United States
This lightly tinted 1/4 plate tintype photograph records the likenesses of four men of Hispanic heritage and was probably taken in the southwest region of the United States - Texas,
New Mexico Territory, Arizona Territory or California, sometime in the last 1870s or early 1880s. Their names are lost to history as is their occupations. They may have been
employed in any of a number of trades including but not limited to cattlemen, sheep herders, farmers, miners, freighters, outlaws - or any combination thereof. The anonymous nature of
most tintypes precludes us from ever knowing for sure. The fact that these four men chose to be photographed together leave little doubt that they were in fact compadres - the Spanish
word often used colloquially when referring to close friends.
One interesting costume note is the "sugarloaf" sombrero being worn by the man seated at left is wearing. This style hat, so called because its tall conical crown resembled the
cone-shaped blocks in which sugar was sold at the time, was probably one of the most popular pieces of head wear in the old Southwest regardless of ethnic background. William "Billy
the Kid" Bonney himself stated that the sugarloaf was his preferred style of hat.