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#102158 - 04/30/03 01:28 PM not on your tintype
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
A hundred years ago, many portraits were taken on tintype, also called ferrotype.
ferrotype
n.
5FERRO3 + 3TYPE6
1 a positive photograph taken directly on a thin plate of black-enameled iron coated with a sensitized emulsion; tintype
2 the process of making such photographs
vt.
3typed#, 3typ#ing to give a glossy finish to (a photographic print) by squeezing into contact with a highly polished surface, usually chromium-plated steel, stainless steel, or plastic

The exposure time had to be rather long, minutes, not fractions of a second. Interestingly, the result
was a positive image. Sad thing was that they slowly turned all black. I had one of my grandmother,
which when about eighty years old was almost all black.

There was an emphatic way of saying "No!" --- Not on your tintype!" I have been unable to
fiture out how it came to be used. Word-Detective's parents in their phrase dictionary said
they were unable to find its origin. Let's have some speculation on it.


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#102159 - 05/01/03 07:51 AM Re: not on your tintype
dxb Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/06/02
Posts: 1692
Loc: UK
Well, I'm familiar with tintypes and have a couple that have come down the family, but this is a new expression to me. I Googled it and found it quite common but seemingly only on US sites, I found three related usages, also on US sites:

“Mull that over on your tintype, then, as we go forward.”

“What did the gladiator say? Blow it out your tintype. Finbad the Failer lives!”

“…or ninny on your tintype, as people of Coppola's father's generation used to say…”

I don’t read much into these as I think they are examples of people not understanding the reference and consequently misusing the expression.

Two possibilities for the origin come to mind.

One is that tintypes were originally rare, expensive and much prized (although eventually very common) and the thought was “Not on your life…not even on your tintype!” I think this is quite unlikely to be the origin, but offer it for what it’s worth – not a lot.

The other is that tintypes were seen as true impressions of reality (the camera never lies – ha, ha) so that “Not on your tintype!” implied something that was *unreal. I think this is quite a feasible explanation.



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#102160 - 05/01/03 08:17 AM Re: not on your tintype
Buffalo Shrdlu Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/24/02
Posts: 7210
Loc: Vermont
One is that tintypes were originally rare, expensive and much prized (although eventually very common) and the thought was ?Not on your life?not even on your tintype!? I think this is quite unlikely to be the origin, but offer it for what it?s worth ? not a lot.


actually, dixbey, this was my thought as well. similar to "not on your life!".<-- I think I must be blind...

I have never heard the "not on your tintype" expression, however...

_________________________
formerly known as etaoin...

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#102161 - 05/02/03 12:04 AM Re: not on your tintype
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
In reply to:

Well, I'm familiar with tintypes and have a couple that have come down the family, but this is a new expression to me. I Googled it and found it quite common but seemingly only on US sites


While 'not on your nelly' seems to be almost confined to uk sites plus a few nz and au sites.

Bingley

_________________________
Bingley

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#102162 - 05/06/03 05:00 PM Re: not on your tintype
Coffeebean Offline
old hand

Registered: 02/11/03
Posts: 725
Loc: Oregon, USA
I've heard "not on your tintype" before, and agree with etaoin and others that it seems to be the same as "not on your life."

If someone is interested in locating the libretto for Meredith Willson's The Music Man, in the last act (I believe) you will find Charlie the Anvil salesman saying to Marion "not on your mother's tintype."



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#204171 - 01/10/12 02:15 PM Re: not on your tintype [Re: wwh]
How Offline
stranger

Registered: 01/10/12
Posts: 1
Loc: U.S.A.
The meaning should be obvious. Like saying "not on your life," it referrers to the possibility of a promise made by 'you' : "not even if you promised to give your life."

The idea that a tintype was as valuable as a persons life is rather absurd, even back in the day. People gave and traded tintypes like we might give business cards, so "even if you promised to give your tintype" it's a bit silly, like saying "even if you promised to give your business card." It is a type of American humor that could originally come from an actual spoonerism. But the content of the phrase is that it a rebuff to the person giving the offer, suggesting the offer is bogus or an insult. The offer isn't worth the paper it's printed on, isn't worth a tintype.

The phrase itself has merit as a tintype would be a ready and humorous synonym for worthlessness, but it may have it's origin in comedy.

This type of humor was very popular in low comedy, like vaudeville and burlesque, being the catch phrase of a comedian. These acts would travel to every major city, so the entire nation might be entertained by the same comedian, but the acts were rarely recorded or even written down, so without a direct record, review, journal entry, etc. it can be impossible to trace a phrase like this.

Regardless, these types of phases can be catchy and survive generations if they are clever enough, even though the original comedy is long forgotten. Often a catchy phrase like this would become a cliche or stock line for a certain 'type', in this case an angry man. This phrase may have been the catch phrase of a comedian in a long forgotten burlesque act.

P.S. there is a misconception that tintypes were "rare" or "prized" they were the cheapest form of photography, the Instamatic of the day, used by the lower classes. Albumen, Ambrotypes and Dagarotypes were much more expensive and preferred (Lincoln gave thousands of tintypes away on campaign buttons). As such tintypes were a code word at the time for worthlessness, much like business cards today which are practically forced upon people -something of value only to the giver not the receiver.

Tintypes were popular in the U.S. because it was cheap to establish a studio to make tintypes and for itinerant photographers to pack up a mule team and travel newly developing communities. Tintypes never caught on in Europe in the same way, which explains why the phrase is exclusive to the U.S.

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