Although anonymous like most vintage tintypes, this 1/6th plate example still offers a remarkable character study of the men and women who followed old Horace Greely’s advice and
went West.

Taken sometime in the 1880s, this rather grim looking couple had themselves immortalized for about 25 cents – the then typical cost of such a photograph. He wears a relatively nice
suit of clothes for the session but his shirt lacks a celluloid collar which implies to a certain extent a lack of spare funds for such niceties. His broad brimmed hat with its front brim
slightly turned up typical of those worn on the western plains although his has a finished and trimmed edge that was usually seen on more expensive hats at the time. The 1880s date of
the photograph is based on the small revolver that he holds in is hand. It appears to be an early double action type and is probably either a Harrington & Richardson “American”
pocket model or a Merwin, Hulbert & Co pocket model. Both guns were introduced in the mid-1880s and this format of photograph was on its way out of common use at this time. My
guess is that his revolver is of the later a Merwin, Hulbert & Co type which was a favored day to day carry gun of noted lawman Pat Garrett. These small .32 and .38 caliber handguns
were well liked since they could - as their name implies - be carried discretely in a coat pocket thus allowing the owner to be “heeled’ while in town without the cumbersome
inconvenience of a holstered rig.

The woman is probably his wife even though there is no wedding ring visible on her hand. Wedding rings as we now think of them were only coming into vogue at the time and then only
with the upper classes. Her clothing is of typical 1880s fashion and was probably black broadcloth and rather austere when it came to decoration with only the feathers on her had a tie
at her neck offering a bit of style to her ensemble. At the time if a woman’s clothing was a bit too much on the extravagant side of things it could be seen as an implication of her being
a “sporting woman” and subject of gossip and the accompanying scandal. This this case she presented herself in the most proper and respectful manner of the time.

1/6th Plate Tintype (Ferrotype)
Unknown Photographer
United States
c. 1885