Tintypes were introduced commercially into the UK in the early 1870s. The photograph was created as a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with emulsion. The process was very quick but only provided small images. Two sizes were popular: one about 15mm across was called a Gem another 35mm across was referred to as a Victoria. By the end of the decade, they had become quite popular for the cheap end of the market and they could be fitted into a card the same size as the ubiquitous carte de visite (described later in this article) and therefore fitted nicely into family albums.
The tintype development process was fairly short, the resilience of iron meant drying time was rapid, only a matter of minutes. This made them quick to produce, boosting their appeal as a carnival or seaside novelty. Often other means of photography were highly technical and limited to experts in the field. This was before the founding of Kodak, who introduced a much quicker and easier process.
Other processes available at the time, like the Daguerreotype, were expensive and impractical; often they were reserved for use in studios with the sitter having to remain still for approximately 20 minutes. They were limited to only the wealthiest in society, and it was not until the late 19th century when cheaper techniques became commercially available that more could afford portraits.