www.creativecockades.com The Cockade Column - Tintype Buttons In 1856 a patent was issued to Professor Hamilton L. Smith “For the Use of Jappaned Me

          Web Version   Forward   Unsubscribe  
facebook banner1 copy
00 Grant 1

The Cockade Column - Tintype Buttons

In 1856 a patent was issued to Professor Hamilton L. Smith “For the Use of Jappaned Metallic Plates in Photography”... and photography was revolutionized.

As were cockades. The tintype was born.

The beautiful velvet-edged photo button on this U.S. Grant cockade became not only possible, but durable and affordable for everyone.

simon wing camera

Unlike previous methods of photography which included fragile glass, tintypes were printed on iron (hence their other name, ferrotypes). And due to another invention by Simon Wing called the "multiplying camera" tintypes were able to be easily and inexpensively reproduced. Wing's camera could literally take one image and reproduce it hundreds of times on a single plate. These hundreds of images could then be cut apart and framed... or put into buttons.

Photo buttons became extremely popular in the 1860s and 1870s. In Uniform Buttons of the United States, 1776-1865 Warren Tice observes, " At the beginning of the Civil War hostilities, ferrotype buttons bearing the images of sweethearts, mothers, children, soldiers, politicians and national heros appeared. Soldiers commonly wore buttons with photos of loved ones on their clothing to glimpse when homesick and lonely."

The presidential campaign industry also capitalized on photo buttons. Cockades, mementos and jewelry were all created with tintypes of presidential contenders. (see the samples below)

00 jewelry
00 jules martino

Another boon for the photo button industry was the mourning cockade. During the American Civil War, death touched nearly every family in America. And when President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, it became very popular to wear mourning cockades and ribbons with his image in a photo button.

This picture from Jules Martino's collection shows a soldier with an appropriately grave expression wearing a Lincoln cockade with one of these buttons in the center.

Below are some of the Lincoln cockades still in existence that sport ferrotype buttons.

00 Lincoln ferrotypes
00 BB on right

The Button Baron is doing a wonderful job of recreating these ferrotype buttons. Their photographs are no longer perishable tintypes, but instead are high quality laminates. However, all other parts are made exactly as the originals on a vintage button-making machine at their shop in Gettysburg. In this picture you can see an original tintype button on the left and the Button Baron's reproduction on the right. Looks pretty darn good to me! These good folks have been supplying me with lovely repros for my cockades.

For a final bit of tintype button eye candy, here are three more cockades. From left to right: A mourning cockade for Colonel Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth, a Union cockade showing President George Washington, and a Confederate cockade with Jefferson Davis's photo.


For many more examples of tintype buttons, you might enjoy my Pinterest board on the subject.

If you are reading this online and want to sign up for my weekly emails, you can sign up on this form. And if you'd like to order your own photo button cockade, check out those in my shop or email me directly at creativecockades@gmail.com.



Back issues of the Cockade Column are now available on my Pinterest site. Enjoy reading the ones you missed!

Thanks for reading... see you next week!

~Heather Sheen
Owner, Creative Cockades

blogger facebook instagram linkedin pinterest