06 March, 2018

The 1889 Tintypes: Geoffrey Hawkins

Tintype of Geoffrey Hawkins. 1889.
Courtesy of the Deakin Archives, Mifflin University.

After a number of recent 20th century explorations, we return to the 19th century to showcase items from the Deakin Archive.  Archive curator Matthew Alexander has provided us with a series of photographic tintypes that date to the summer of 1889. The images prominently feature members of the Society of the Mechanical Sun as they prepare to confront Enoch Cyncad in his underground stronghold.

A tintype was an early photographic process by which an image was produced by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer.  The metal sheet then provided support for the resulting emulsion.  Tintypes were widely used during the 1860s and 1870s and remained in use well into the early 20th century.  The format became especially popular due to its portability and ease of use in settings beyond a normal indoor studio.

The 1889 tintypes discovered in the Deakin Archive were likely created by Robert Deakin.  Our first featured image in the series presents Geoffrey Hawkins as he navigates an underground tunnel.  He is clad in a kind of improvised battle outfit and carrying a rifle-type weapon.  Devon Gillroy, Firearms Curator for the Victorian Mechanical Museum, clarifies, "Hawkins is armed with a æther-modified blunderbuss which could blow a hole in the side of a brick building.  In the underground setting, he likely used it for demolition in addition to assault and defense."

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