Nathaniel Fullerton

Local History by Ron Patch. Ron Patch is a Chester native, Chester Historical Society president, and a lifelong antiques dealer. He can be reached at 802-374-0119 or email knotz69@gmail.com

Last week I wrote some on the subject of antique photography. That article was about ambrotypes. In that article, I mentioned the ambrotype was replaced with the tintype in the 1860s.

From my collection are the two photos you see with this article. On the left is a CDV albumen photo of Chester’s Nathaniel Fullerton circa 1867. On the right is a tintype photo of Nathaniel Fullerton circa 1870. Fullerton’s CDV has written on the reverse, “N. Fullerton Aged 92 years.” The photographer’s back mark is, “A.S. Hayward, Photographer, Chester, Vt. Negatives preserved.”

Nathaniel Fullerton albumen and tintype historic photographs
On the left is Nathaniel Fullerton albumen, and on the right is Nathaniel Fullerton tintype. Photo provided

  The Tintype

Tintypes were a very inexpensive process. They tend to be dark and not as clear as the albumen. With these two Nathaniel Fullerton photos side by side, you can see the differences. Tintypes enjoyed the longest run of all the antique photographs. They were still in use in the 1920s in amusement parks.

A tintype is not tin but a thin iron sheet. When treated with the collodion process and inserted into the camera, they would result in an image within minutes.

  The albumen

The albumen is my favorite photograph. They are not dark like the tintype and are much sharper. In the 1860s, a basic CDV as you see here would cost 25 cents. The tintype would have cost 10 to 15 cents.

Another advantage of the albumen is that they are a paper photograph. This enabled people to write a name on the reverse of the photo. Tintypes being black metal, neither ink nor pencil would adhere to the metal. Seldom does a tintype have any history with it.

Albumens were a glass negative that produced positive images. Many photos could be produced from the glass negative. Tintypes were the negative and the only one produced.

Nathaniel Fullerton

Nathaniel Fullerton was born in 1775. He was a prominent citizen in Chester in the banking business. He was president of the Bellows Falls National Bank. When he died in 1872 at the age of 97, he had the distinction of being the oldest bank president in this country.

Many will know the home his son Frederick Fullerton built on Main Street in Chester. This is the yellow mansion where Jerry Stewart lives today. I find this home mentioned in his day as “The Fullerton Mansion.” It certainly is the finest Victorian home in Chester. Nothing else comes close. The Fullertons are buried in Brookside Cemetery.

A.S. Hayward

A.S. Hayward is Albert Steven Hayward. I’ve been aware of Hayward’s photographs for years but never knew much about him. Peter Farrar and I have been researching Hayward.

"N. Fullerton aged 92 years"
Inscription on reverse of CDV “N. Fullerton aged 92 years.” Photo provided

Hayward moved around quite a bit. We found him in Londonderry and then Ludlow. For a while, he was in Proctorsville working as a photographer using the albumen process. He then moved to Chester where he continued the albumen process. I’ve seen more of his Chester photos than his Proctorsville photos. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few of his Chester and Proctorsville photos. Thanks to Ted Spaulding, the Chester Historical Society now has a couple more Hayward photos to add to those we had.

We have a number of questions we have yet to answer. Where did Hayward receive his training in photography? His photos are more thoughtfully arranged than his country peers. I’ve always thought he was trained by an urban photographer.

As you look at the photo with this article, ask yourself which process you would choose? I think most will agree the albumen is best. The pose in the albumen is not straight on as it is in the tintype. In the albumen, Fullerton poses at a slight angle.

I’m known by many Vermont and New Hampshire antiques dealers as a buyer of most anything Chester. It was probably 15 years ago I was offered the two photos you see with this article. They were found in a Victorian photo album where they had not seen the light of day since they were taken. This accounts for their like-new condition.

Another thing worth mentioning about Hayward is the red border he used to frame his photographs. Almost without exception, photographers of his day used a gold border, not red. To my knowledge, Hayward is the only Vermont photographer who used a red border.

Over the years, I have examined thousands of these photos. I have only seen a handful of CDVs with a red border from other New England photographers. I have seen one green border.

  This week’s old saying. “If you don’t like my answers, don’t ask the questions.”

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