The Bosco Automat

This is a little unusual, and I’d not seen one before, so I bought it off Feepay. I’d not heard of a Bosco ferrotype (tinype) before or realised there was a automated early photo booth that produced somewhat crude tintypes. Said to be named after a famous 19th century magician named Bartolomeo Bosco – this Bosco Automat was introduced with some success in 1890.

A black lacquered sheet metal base, shaped like a small tray with raised edges, that could act as its own developer and fixer dish, inside an automated pay per plate photo booth. An early predecessor to the passport style photo booth

From reading online, the production of the tintype took just three minutes. However, much like today it still had to dry afterwards; the surface remained fragile and if touched could be damaged. The edge served as a decorated frame for the finished plate. A matching cardboard case was supplied and a paper sleeve to finish the presentation. What a great idea.

Sadly my example has deteriorated over time but there are much better examples to be seen online with great detail and tonality.

The quality of the Bosco tintypes could be said to be a little inferior to earlier studio portraits. However, these were almost always “occasional” shots that were mostly taken at amusement parks, fairs, festivals or at tourist sites and were not intended to meet any high artistic or technical standards. In addition, the image emulsion layer is not under glass or varnished and is therefore offered little protection from abrasions, scratches and environmental influence.

Still, an unusual example of photographic automation.